The Ferrata of the Alpini Group at Corno del Medale is a challenging, vertical, exposed route but very satisfying at the same time in so many of its climbing sections. The difficulties of the first half of the path make it inadvisable for inexperienced or in any case untrained people, given the height gain that accumulates and the type of climb that requires. In many places the route climbes on vertical slabs, smooth and very exposed. In particular, the first section presents a good regularity of difficult and challenging passages. Be careful to climb it in the summer months due to the absence of water sources along the route and the low altitude. It lends itself very well to being climbed even in the winter months.
The starting point of the itinerary is the village of Rancio Alto above the city of Lecco. From Lecco take the road that leads us towards Ballabio up to an evident double hairpin bend in the middle of the houses. Near the second hairpin bend, we will notice that on the left a road continues straight and we take it (via Quarto), continue about 200 meters until you see a paved road on the right near a clearing that rises steeply with a rusty white bar open. We take this steep climb. We will make a first hairpin bend to the left and we will reach a crossroads where we continue to the right uphill. We continue a couple of minutes until we reach a bar where we park.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
From the car park we go up the cemented road up to a bend where we will leave the cemented road and we will go straight following the indications. Continuing along the path, we will pass by striking rockfall-protection nets up to a saddle in the road: on the left it continues straight on the CAI 52, we take the CAI 58 steeply uphill into the forest with signs for the via ferrata. As we go up we will reach a crossroads near a rockfall net: we will have to avoid going straight downhill and around the net making a hairpin turn. A similar situation occurs shortly afterwards with another rockfall protection network to bypass and continue along the path that comes out of the woods. Follow the red signs along the mid-hill path between stones and reach the start of the via ferrata (40' from the parking lot).
The beginning of the Ferrata del Medale is symptomatic of the type of route we are going to face. We immediately climb a beautiful vertical wall (like most of the route) with chain and wire rope. The wall offers many natural points of attachment but it is immediately clear that the ascent is and will be challenging. The rock is of calcareous type with support points and natural carvings although it is quite smooth. Continue up this narrow wall, quickly gaining altitude and exposure. Carry out a short horizontal traverse to the right and then continue along a vertical wall by bending to the right. At the end of the vertical wall, a challenging diagonal climb to the left is started.
At this point we are near one of the most challenging and exciting passages on the road. We cover a exposed side to the right that leads us to go around an exposed edge with the help of some brackets for the feet. Before starting this section it is possible to rest for a while in a narrow terrace. Beyond the edge, the chain rises vertically (pay attention to the crossing of chain and rope). Go up again with high exposure using the brackets present. You reach a narrow terrace where you can rest for a moment before starting again on a diagonal traverse to the right that goes up another edge, followed by a long vertical slab where we will first climb to the left and then to the right using some brackets. In this vertical section we will have the rope a little loose on our left and the chain on our right. In the middle of this long slab there is a small terrace with a Madonna carved in the rock where it is possible to rest. Continue on a difficult dihedral where it is important to use the brackets on the right side correctly. Go up this dihedral and proceed with a traverse to the right bypassing another exposed rocky edge. Once around the edge, go up a long wall alternating some rocky jumps with vertical slabs assisted with brackets and short traverses. At this point the via ferrata has not "given respite" from the beginning and fatigue begins to be felt. But the first more difficult section of the via ferrata has ended (about 1h 15' from the start - about 2h total). You come to a more flat stretch where you can stop and relax for a while while also enjoying the view before resuming the second and less demanding section of the route.
The second part of the ferrata is much less vertical and exposed. It starts with a series of inclined rocks. You come to a couple of vertical walls with good artificial grips that help the ascent. We continue the climb, certainly less strenuous going up some small walls and a long series of rocky leaps and rocks. Gradually you reach the summit path at times aided up to reach the summit cross (2h from the start - 2h 45 'total).
The descent usually takes place for the Aided path of Medale. From the cross continue north for 5 minutes following the trail track towards Coltiglione. We will reach a saddle with a small pole and some indications (Coltiglione, San Martino). We will have to turn right along a steep path that goes down into the woods. The path is steep and in some places slippery, therefore we recommend the hiking sticks. This that goes down is the Path Aided to the Medal that brings us back to the fraction of Rancio where we parked (1h from the summit - 3h 45' total).
The Ferrata al Corno del Medale is a challenging ferrata, especially in the first half with high verticality and exposure. The climb is tackled much better if the climber is given time to look for natural holds that are often present even if not visible at first glance. The climb is physically demanding and you need to consider the heat in the summer months given the low altitude at which it extends.
A point that deserves to be mentioned is the development that the wire rope and the chain have. We suggest looking at each chenge of gear their future development by anticipating the times in which they cross paths creating the effect of a taproot and therefore having to carabiner halfway between one nail and another. Finally, as happens in some other via ferratas in the Lecco area, the chain is loose in some places and tends to be waved.
At the end of the Ferrata of the Alpini Group to the Corno Medale, as anticipated above, one can descend by the steep Aided path to the Corno Medale, or if you want to extend the trip you could go on:
If you opt for a quick return via the Aided path of the Medal, you could consider (energies permitting) to take another ferrata between those of the Lecco area, for example the short one Via Ferrata of the Morcate Tunnel or the Via Ferrata Gamma 1, both of moderate difficulty with short approaches.