The recent Ferrata delle Aquile (literally "Eagles Ferrata") is a via ferrata that extends on the south-east slope of the Cima La Paganella in an itinerary that extends on a rocky ridge with a rather singular development. The via ferrata starts downhill and then follows a long and exposed ledge and then proceeds uphill. The ferrata has excellent equipment and has two suspension bridges and two original helicoidal stairs in a variant of the ascent route. Attention in the summer months due to overcrowding.
The starting point of the trip is the top station of the cable car that leads from Andalo to the top of the Paganella (2124 m). To reach the valley station of the cable car, you must reach Andalo which can be reached from the Trento Nord motorway exit and then follow for Mezzolombardo and then following the signs for Fai della Paganella and then Andalo. Once in Andalo da Fai della Paganella we will notice the ski lifts on the left and just before reaching it there is a free parking on the right.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
Taking the cable car to Andalo we finish the first section and go down to Dosso Pela (1776 m). We leave the station and go down the path towards the left towards the chair lift that takes us from Dosso Pela to Cima La Paganella (2125 m). The path passes under a tunnel with the tracks above us (5 'on foot between the two cable cars).
Once in La Paganella we continue uphill until we notice the receivers on the right. We set off in the direction of the receivers on a large carriage road until we reach a crossroads:
If you want you can go up from Andalo to La Paganella also with path (F11) which in 2 hours of constant and tiring ascent along the 1000 m of altitude will lead us to the top station of the cable car.
Let's start by saying that the development of the via ferrata is particular and in some ways singular compared to the majority of Italian via ferratas. It extends over a modest height difference with the first part of the downhill ferrata and the second part uphill along a steep rocky ridge (Dente di Corno). The via ferrata is subdivided into some sections that are recognizable with metal slabs along the route.
The first section of the via ferrata is called "Canalone Battisti". This stretch of descent takes place along the left side of an steep , not particularly difficult grassy gully. The cable serves mainly as a handrail and we alternate some sections of descent with short uphill stretches and ledges. On the metal slab "Antro delle Pegore" which follows a stretch of flat path and leads us into a passage in the rock. We go out on the other side and walk along an easy ledge and begin a descent on rocks with increasing exposure. presents particular difficulties but requires only a firm foot and to look for the easy support for the feet.
After these first two easy sections we now reach a stretch with slightly more difficult difficulty: "La Traversata degli Angeli". It is a horizontal traverse that in strong exposure leads us to get around an edge. The traverse offers good natural grips at the beginning and some brackets in the second part. A couple of steps require a little strength in the passage of the carabiners as the wall is slightly overhanging. After the traverse we face two vertical climbs with strong exposure. The passages are not difficult and are aided by some metal supports. This is the first technical section of the moderately difficult route. Completed the climbing section we cross to the left a short section that leads us to a new metallic slab "Conca d'Oro" beyond which we begin a mixed stretch of exposed traverses and ledges - called "Cengia Terlago" - which goes around without significant changes of difference in height to go around the Dente del Corno wall until reaching the west wall.
We cover this section until we descend without noteworthy stretches towards the horn connected with the rest of the mountain by two suspension bridges. We pass the sign "Ponti del Cielo" and after a slight descent we face the first of two suspension bridges. Both bridges are 4-string, very stable with excellent metal foot slabs. Leaving the first bridge, we climb with some pegs up to a short ledge. We go up a short rocky pulpit that leads us to the "Dos de la Merenda" namely a vantage point where second longer suspended bridgestarts a little further. It is possible to get around this second bridge with an aided path. We go up an aided wall and after a traverse to the right we go down into an earthy saddle where the path is rejoined for those who have possibly missed the second bridge.
Variant Battito d'Ali
Since 2019 a variant is now available between the first and second hangin bridge. This variant consists of a pendulum and an overhanging wall of Extremely Difficultlevel. To undertake the pendulum we shall connect to a long metal wire and pendel towards left to reach a metal cable about 7-8 meters away. In order to perform this pendel we reccomend to connect you with both the via ferrata set and a sling with a gate carabiner so to be close to the metal cable. Finished the pendel, the route climbs the vertical wall with overhanging steps without metal brackets. The wall is not long but it will be hard to free climb so you will pull on the cable with a certain effort in your arms. It worth to underline that it's hard to retreet from the pendel (perhaps impossible). If you undertake this variant, you shall complete it and reach the second hanging bridge.
After the book of signatures we are now near the last section of the via ferrata. We will note at this point two options: continue towards the extreme variant or go up the "Spigolo del Vento:
From the end of the ferrata we will have to continue in a north-west direction following the path ascending towards Cima La Paganella. We will reach a crossroads where if we continue to the right we will slightly extend the return. If we keep to the left we continue on the path until we reach near the meadows of the ski slopes. This section is in constant ascent and will take us to the cableway facilities (30 'from the end of the ferrata - 2h 30' total) from which we will be able to go down to the valley and then to the parking lot.
The first note goes for the equipment. Recently built and in excellent condition. If we wanted to find a point that is at least partly negative, it is the short distance between the nails with the result of being constantly engaged in slamming even in easy stretches on the ferrata. Obviously this provision has obvious advantages for safety in the event of a fall but in some places the distance between the nails actually seems too short.
Suspended bridges are well made, stable and well built. The only comment is on the second bridge where the high cable that can be used for the carabiners is generally too high with the result of making it difficult to proceed. Although it is not an optimal situation for the progression, it is possible to proceed by placing a carabiner on the right cable and one on the left.
The last note on the development of the spiral staircase. This variant extreme it was inaugurated in 2017 and represents something unique and unusual in the Italian panorama. There are conflicting opinions on this development and, although we also have an opinion on it, we refrain from making it public on this report. Surely it is a unique experience to do and to avoid potentially dangerous situations we recommend having a sling with you in case you want to stay half ladder.
Conclusion on overcrowding. The Ferrata delle Aquile is an itinerary that in the summer months of July and August is traveled by many people. The medium difficulty level and the possibility of getting on and off by cable car, reducing the approach to a few minutes, makes it a very popular destination among tourists in the area. Probably due to crowding, it is explicitly forbidden to cover the via ferrata in the opposite direction to that indicated in the report. With this in mind, traffic jam situations are frequently generated which make the route much less pleasant. This problem can be overcome by walking along it on weekdays and more generally starting early in the morning as soon as the lifts open.
The Ferrata delle Aquile is an trip that, if undertaken using the lifts both uphill and downhill, will leave us both the time and the energy to combine a second aided itinerary on the same day. Among the natural candidates there are the Ferrata at the Burrone Giovanelli near Mezzocorona (attention to the schedules of the facilities for the descent) or the Rio Secco ferrata. If from Andalo we wanted to go down towards Molveno and then towards Lake Garda we could go to the Via Ferrata Preore or the Via Ferrata Rio Sallagoni, both with short approach and low gaps. Finally, for a second itinerary certainly more challenging but very rewarding is the Via Ferrata Marangoni in Mori near the Rovereto Sud motorway junction.
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