Review of the Ferrata Senza confini (literally "Without Borders Ferrata") to Cellon. The via ferrata is very demanding, vertical, exposed and physical. To be avoided if not well trained and used to exposure. Medium-length itinerary with strong historical interest and the possibility of traveling through a long aided war gallery.
The starting point of the Ferrata Senza Confini itinerary is the Passo di Monte Croce Carnico on the border between Italy and Austria. To reach the pass, go up in about 40 minutes from Tolmezzo (Udine) to State Road 52b. Tolmezzo is easily reached by the A23 motorway with the Tolmezzo-Carnia exit. Once at the pass, we park in one of the yards. For our itinerary we will start in Austrian territory to return from Italian territory. Directions for Google Maps available here.
To reach the start of the via ferrata it is possible both to follow the path that climbs from the Italian side and from the Austrian side. In this report we propose to go up from the Austrian side and to go along the Cellon war tunnel. From the parking lot (1360 m) we pass the customs and take the CAI path ascending to the Crete di Collinetta on the western side of the pass. Shortly after we meet a first sign that already indicates the Ferrata Senza Confini to the left but we ignore it continuing straight towards the Gallery and the Canal Steinbergerweg. At about 15 minutes from the pass we meet another crossroads: straight ahead towards the Canalberg Steinbergerweg with the homonymous ferrata while we keep the left steeply uphill towards the Schulter Gallery. Let's go up now firmly reaching a first steep but not difficult stretch aided with a safety rope and we arrive at the war settlements therefore at theentrance to the Cellon Gallery (1541 m - ca 30 ').
The war gallery dating back to the First World War rises by about 110 m in altitude and almost 200 in development. Its interior is rather steep and the rock is moist and generally slippery. The tunnel is however aided for its entire length with a protection rope and in the steepest sections it is placed also some brackets that facilitate the climb. A frontal light is required as the first section is completely dark. In the second section we meet some loopholes. In just under 30 'we go out through one narrow slit from the war gallery and we cover an aided stretch and we reach a war buttress (1h from the parking lot) seeing below us a wind turbine already encountered in the approach.
At this point it is necessary to pay attention not to lose the orientation to reach the start of the via ferrata. We meet a first junction where the trail climbs from the Italian side. We hold the right pointing to the top. We continue on the path and we meet a second junction marked on a rock: on the left you reach the start of the Ferrata Senza Confini, on the right you continue towards the start of the Ferrata Steinbergerweg. We continue between grass and mountain pines first and stony ground and grassy sods then up to locate a evident dihedral / diagonal slit where the via ferrata begins without slabs or indicator tables (1h 30 'from the parking lot).
The start of the via ferrata it is placed about 4 meters from the ground and we will have to climb free to reach it. The passages are supported and with obvious grips. Reached the cable we climb the first meters up supported rocks with a couple of more pronounced leaps but rather easy. We still gain altitude and bend to the right finding ourselves inside a groove at the end of which the cable turns sharply to the right vertically. We are at the base of a long, demanding and a aerial dihedral. The dihedral extends with the cable on the left, climbing on a slab poor in grips natural in which they have been inserted a good number of brackets metal but distant from each other. This arrangement of the brackets will result in some traction on the cable during the climb. We quickly earn ahigh exposure climbing. The upper part is slightly more cluttered but there are fewer brackets and this keeps the difficulty level high.
We finish the dihedral and, after being there pushed to the left on a passage always challenging, we carry on ridge thread. The stretch is aerial and below we see the pass left a few hours earlier. We are now on the ridge of a series of less demanding passages but that soon ends up returning to difficult medium levels again. Let's face some inclined slabs initially on the left side of the ridge then on the right side. The exposure is always kept high and we proceed on the very compact rock that is not rich in handles. We climb an exposed edge and then a couple of steps up difficult diagonal slabs where we will have to have good strength of arms taking advantage of the adherence of the boots. We reach a jutting rock near a boulder first aided only with rope in which we will have to combine a good agility with a certain strength. We continue on some slabs along the ridge and reach a second overhanging piece, this time initially aided with metal steps. We then address a new dihedral that we go up on the left side. We continue meeting a well-set chimney that we also go up on the left side. We continue and reach a piece of supported ridge with some pine trees where it is definitely recommended to rest and enjoy the view for a while.
Let's start on ridge thread which we follow faithfully going up some stretches looking for the few grips available and working in adherence when this is missing. This section of the route is aerial and this point looking up at the summit of Cellon is now closer. We reach the book of signatures beyond which we ascend a new dihedral and are nearing the end of the road. Shortly after they finish the equipment and we cover a ridge path for a few minutes leads to some barracks of the Great War.
We continue and reach a crossroads of paths (2103 m - 1h 30 'from the start). To our right we reach the Ferrata Steinbergerweg, on the left the path for the normal route (signpost 147). Straight to us the summit of Cellon and its metal cross. We climb on an obvious track towards the summit of Crete di Collinetta until we reach the east front, where we meet numerous remains of the Great War and we reach shortly the summit of the Crete of Collinetta (2241 m - 20 'from the end of the ferrata - about 3h total) marked by aimpressive metallic cross on a commemorative plate of the violent clashes that took place on this summit during the conflict.
We return to the intersection of paths reached at the end of the via ferrata. We go down to the right on the 147 in the Italian side cutting in horizontal and we can reach the Creta di Collinetta (Crete of the Hill). We continue now in descent along the mule track which rejoins the path left during the approach. We then return back along the approach path to the car park (1h 30 'from the summit - 4h 30' total).
The Ferrata Without Borders is a typical example of a via ferrata that elicits conflicting opinions. The climb is athletic, difficult and definitely puts the driver to the test. However, the climb is not very climbable for long stretches with some single level crossings at least 6A which lead to a strong traction on the cable. The road climbs close to a historic climbing route opened by Friulian mountaineers (Mazzilis and De Infanti). The original route is visible with many nails and pegs along the way. The ferrata runs parallel for long stretches. Without climbing shoes and good technique it is almost impossible to climb in some places. Put these elements on the table, the via ferrata is suitable for hikers trained with strong arms who absolutely do not suffer from vertigo (a couple of steps are very exposed and adrenaline). The environment in which it extends is very beautiful and the ascent is satisfying. The wordings Crete from Collinetta and Cellon are used without distinction.
As indicated in the via ferrata, this itinerary shares the approach and the return with the neighbor Ferrata Steinbergerweg. This could be assessed as a downhill option by experienced hikers. The area of Carnia is rich in many other noteworthy aided routes. Continuing south from the pass we meet the Aided path Cuestalta while, at moderate distance as the crow flies from the summit of the Cellon, you can reach the Rifugio Romanin by trekking to reach the start of the Via Ferrata del Coglians. Going further south in the province of Udine we meet some very challenging and varied ferrata: the Via Ferrata Cassiopea at Torrione Comici, the Ferrata 50 del Clap at Creton dei Culzei and the Ferrata at the Clap Varmost.