The Aided path of the Val Cassina is an itinerary that goes up a gully located between the Sasso dei Carbonari and the Sasso Cavallo on the southern slope of the Northern Grigna, in the province of Lecco. The itinerary takes place in a narrow valley between the steep limestone walls of the two hills. The itinerary presents contained technical difficulties, however it has a long approach and covers a gap of almost 1400 m.
The starting point of the itinerary is the hamlet of Rongio in the municipality of Mandello del Lario in the province of Lecco. Once you reach Mandello from the highway, you come to a roundabout and pass under the bridge over the via ferrata. Follow the road uphill until you reach a rather large car park where you can leave your car. Directions for Google Maps available here.
Leaving the car (approx. 400 m) we cover the paved road that soon becomes a dirt road in the woods. The path continues with a modest slope that goes along the Valle del Meria until you reach the Ponte di Ferro (490 m - 30 'from the start) staying on the path marked 14 (to our left the path 18 that we will use for the return comes off). The path 14 now increases the slope and decisive salt. After about 2h from the start we can continue on path 14 and reach the Elisa hut (1515 m - 2h 45 'from the start) or follow the steep path 16 which it reaches directly the Val Cassina, destination of our itinerary. In the report we follow the path 16 with red trail signs leads toentrance to Val Cassina where do the equipment (ca 3h from the parking lot).
The Val Cassina it is narrow between the walls of the Sasso dei Carbonari on the right and the Sasso Cavallo to the left. In the most challenging sections of the gully there are metallic equipment that helps to climb up rocks and stand out with the help of metal ladders. The route does not present particular technical difficulties and the rock is generally good to proceed without problems. The path leads us to the deviation where on the right you can take the Ferrata of the CAI Mandello al Sasso dei Carbonari (trail sign 26). This itinerary can lead us with a magnificent ridge itinerary to the summit of the Northern Grigna. If you follow this route, the time expands considerably compared to the report (consider at least 2 hours for the summit and about 1 hour to descend to Rifugio Bietti).
Our report does not include the ascent to the summit and continues towards the Bocchetta della Val Cassina where the Aided path actually ends and the view opens onto the meadows of the western side of the Northern Grigna. (45 'from the beginning of the equipment - about 4h from the start). Behind us, however, the is clearly visible Aided path of Val Scarettone.
From the Bocchetta della Val Cassina (1823 m) we cover a wide semi-circle to reach the visible Bietti Buzzi Hut (1719 m). Just before reaching the hut we will notice on the left the indications for the path 25 which descends in the direction of the Lake. We follow it up to always intercept the path 18 on the left which we take and follow in constant descent, ignoring the path 20 which on the right would lead us back towards the Val Cassina. Always on the path 18 of the Gardata we reach the Iron Bridge, a stretch that was the first leg. From this point, go back along the approach path to the car park (approx. 2:30 h from the end of the aided path - 6:30 total).
There is also a return option that includes the Ferrata to the Sasso dei Carbonari but excludes the ascent to the summit of the Southern Grigna: go up the Ferrata to the Sasso dei Carbonari until you reach the Bocchetta di Releccio (2263 m - ca 1h 30 'from start 5h 30 'total). At this junction, instead of keeping the left and climbing to the top of the Northern Grigna, we will keep the right downhill towards the neighbor Ugo Merlini Shelter (Bocchetta della Bassa). We continue downhill again until we meet on the right the path with trail sign 16A that descends along the Via dei Chignoli. We follow this path in steep descent with some parts are aided with ropes. The path intersects in the valley with path 16. At this point we can consider to keep the right and go back to the entrance of the Val Cassina and then go back to the backward path. Or, keeping to the left, you reach the nearby Rifugio Elisa and then with path 14 return to the parking lot. For this option consider a global itinerary time of about 7h / 7h 30 '.
The Aided path of the Val Cassina does not present significant difficulties for those accustomed to walking via ferratas. However, the itinerary is long and covers a height difference of about 1400 meters. There are footholds - both the Rifugio Elisa and the Rifugio Bietti Buzzi.
From the Bocchetta della Val Cassina it is possible, with a partially aided path, to reach the summit of Monte Cavallo by going up the northern slope with the 16B signpost (approx. 30 '). As indicated in the report an interesting opportunity is to combine this itinerary with the Ferrata of the CAI Mandello al Sasso dei Carbonari. Very beautiful, long and tiring itinerary that allows us to reach the summit of the Northern Grigna.
From Mandello to Lario we also recommend taking the Aided path of the River and Sileggio Zucco Aided path. Moving instead towards south along the road that runs along the Lake of Como it is possible to undertake the brief and overview Via Ferrata of the Morcate Tunnel.