Review of the Gusella Aided path that runs along the route from Passo di Ball to Forcella Stephen and then to Forcella del Porton in the Dolomites of the Pale di San Martino. A long itinerary with a high gap. Very varied itinerary to travel with certainty of good weather given the long distances.
The starting point of the itinerary for the Nico Gusella aided path for the itinerary we propose is Malga Civertaghe in the municipality of San Martino di Castrozza in the province of Trento. Malga Civertaghe can be reached after a stretch of forest road of about 3 km. From San Martino di Castrozza we take the state road towards the south and near the fourth bend we will notice a road that continues straight ahead. We take it and follow the partially aided road but in fair condition. We reach a junction of another road and we keep the right uphill until we reach the car park at Malga Civertaghe. Directions for Google Maps available here.
The proposed itinerary follows the Gusella Aided Path clockwise going up from the Porton to Forcella Stephen then descending to the Ball Pass. Following the itinerary in this direction to return to the starting point - Malga Ciavertighe - it is necessary to walk up the Portata Ferrata. We decided to propose the route in this direction, and not in the anti-clockwise direction, because the section that goes around Cima di Ball is easier and better identifiable uphill than the descent. Obviously along the route in this towards the most vertical aided section between the Passo di Ball and Forcella Stephen, it is covered downhill.
From Malga Ciavertighe (1375 m) go up towards the clear walls of the Cima Val di Roda following the path in the woods with trail marker 713. The path climbs modestly, passes next to the ruins of the Malga Sopra Ronz and continues uphill. We come to a crossroads where our path 713 keeps the left uphill now steep while the path 724 continues southward halfway up. We keep the path 713 that now comes out of the wood and proceeds on stony ground. We reach a saddle: on the right the path 713 continues towards the Rifugio Velo della Madonna while on the left we follow the track on the path of path 739 which soon leads us to the first aided section of the road: the Ferrata della Vecia.
The Via Ferrata Vecia - recently restored - it allows to go up a wall of about 50 meters from which we can climb up to the Porton. The start of the Ferrata della Vecia consists of one long series of metal frames free of difficulties. Let's go up there new metal bracketa and we go out diagonally towards right for a few meters of comfortable rocks. We walk the last meters aided and follow the trail of the path 739 that on a grassy slope before and on rock then rises in the direction of the Porton. We climb steeply but without difficulty until we reach the characteristic Porton saddle (2460 m - 2h 30 'from the parking lot) where just before reaching it we meet one signpost with signs to the left for path 714 towards the Ball Pass. This path is our itinerary: the Gusella Aided path.
We are now walking around the south wall of Cima di Ball along an easy path that gradually rises with an increasing slope between meadows and rocks towards the Forcella della Fede that separates Cima di Ball from Cima Val di Roda quite clearly already along the path. Following the red signs at this point we descend into the downhill passage along a groove without protections to pay attention to. At the end of the gully we follow the path to the right and we soon meet the equipment with which the real Gusella Aided path begins. This first part of the aided path extends across the river western wall of Cima Ball where between ups and downs we gain altitude diagonally. Follow i red marks alternating sections aided with unaided sections (attention in case of fog).
The environment is just rocky so we cross diagonally. This section requires firm steps and concentration while not presenting difficult passages or excessively exposed ones. By looking up a carving between the rock can be seen and this will be our goal if we cut the mountain diagonally. We climb up to reach Stephen Saddle (2650 m - 1h 30 'from Porton - 4h total) which marks one watershed between the two sides and also an intermediate point of the Gusella Aided path.
The next point of our itinerary is the Ball Pass which is about 300 meters downstream along a gorge. Let's start by going down on one steep trail trace (watch out for the gravel) until you meet the first section aided. Compared to the other side here the equipment will be necessary to get off too vertical strokes. We begin the first section diagonally and then take a descent of about twenty meters up leaning slab however with few holds. We go down again diagonally reaching a short chimney. We go down it and the cable continues always vertical downhill. Looking up we see above us thecarving of Forcella Stephen. We continue now alternating short sections of ledge with new vertical sections and rocks. We end the descent aided and straight to us on Ball Pass. Now continue on the path until you reach the Ball Pass (2443 m - 45 'from Forcella Stephen - 4h 45' total).
From Passo di Ball it is possible to proceed to the left in the direction of Rifugio Rosetta. However, to return to Malga Civerteghe, we will keep the right downhill on trail sign 715 to reach the characteristic Pradidali Hut (2278 m - 20 'from the Ball Pass). From the hut we follow to the right the clear indications that with a downhill stretch they lead us to the start of the Porton Ferrata (40 'from the hut - 1h from the Ball Pass). We climb up the exposed but never difficult Ferrata del Porton (read report here) until you reach the Porton saddle (1h 30 'from the start - 2h 30' from the Passo di Ball - 7h 15 'total). At this point we will have to return to Malga Civerteghe along the path traveled to the outward journey (1h 45 'from Forcella Porton - 9h total) or reaching the Rifugio Velo della Madonna along the Via Ferrata of Velo (10h 30 'total).
The Gusella Aided path is a long itinerary with a high gap. Be careful not to consider the relative height difference indicated in the report which does not include the descent from Forcella Stephen to the base of the Portata Ferrata. For this itinerary it may be ideal to break the itinerary in two days and stay overnight at Rifugio Pradidali to then enjoy both the Ferrata del Porton and the Ferrata del Velo (the latter descending).
Attention also to the various unprotected sections between Forcella del Porton and Forcella Stephen, especially if in the presence of damp ground as well as the first few meters below Forcella Stephen. The views are wonderful on both sides and the hike is very rewarding. It is also possible to go up a trail with expert hikers to the summit of Cima Ball starting from Forcella Stephen.
The proposed itinerary is an itinerary that is ideally covered in two days and concatenates 4 ferratas: the short Ferrata della Vecia, the Sentiero whereas Gusella, the Via Ferrata of Porton uphill and the Via Ferrata of Velo downhill. If you wanted to stay at altitude it is possible from the Ball Pass proceed northwards going up the long series of hairpin bends to the Rifugio Pedrotti from where you can take the long hike to the Via Ferrata Gabitta d'Ignoti at Cima Vezzana. Near the latter ends the difficult one Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli in Cima Vezzana.
If we wanted to proceed towards the Cimerlo we meet the Ferrata Buzzatti and Aided path del Cacciatore. On the eastern side of the Pale di San Martino we meet 4 other medium-difficult level aided itineraries: the Stella Alpina Ferrata, the Ferrata dell'Orsa, the Ferrata Fiamme Gialle at the Reali Shelter and the short but athletic Ferrata del Canalone.