Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Passo Stelvio

Passo Stelvio is one of the best climbs I've done. I would put it up on the list next to Col du Galibier in the French Alps. I rode both sides (north, then south) of Stelvio today. Its the highest pass in the eastern Alps at 2,757 meters.

The pass was completed in 1825 by the Austrians and its route has not changed since. The north ascent is the more famous route. It has 48 switchbacks up a steep wall. Ascending the south was just as awesome (38 switchbacks), but the scenery is quite different. In fact, the southern side had a wide, green valley that reminded me of Col du Tourmalet and Col du Galibier.

Once I finished the southern ascent, I descended a few kilometers back to Passo Umbrail. It sits on Stelvio's shoulder (so I didn't need to climb) and then descended ~1200 meters into Switzerland. From Santa Maria, it was a 20km loop back to my hotel in Gomagoi, Italy.

Switchback #40 (the northern side has 48). Only 39 to go.

The northern wall of switchbacks is in the distance leading up to the saddle.

View from near the summit of the northern side.

The southern ascent leads to Passo Stelvio and Passo Umbrail (in Switzerland).

The southern side has 38 switchbacks. (So, that would make it 86 switchbacks for the day!). 

The pass has 4-5 tunnels, each 100-200 meters long. They are dark and unlit. I was holding my breathe each time. 

View of the southern wall. 

The top half of the southern side is a nice, green valley. It doesn't look anything like the bottom half. 

First, I took a right to Stelvio and then returned to take a left to Santa Maria.

Top of Stelvio after my southern ascent.

The road to Switzerland.

Passo Umbrail has 2km of gravel road. 

A well-engineered Swiss switchback. Nice and smooth. 

Looking down the valley at Santa Maria.

And finally, back in Italy.


  1. Unbelievable scenery!! Nice to see you paying homage to Charly Gaul. Looks like you had better weather than Hill Junkie in June. And much better weather than Andy Hampsten in the '88 Giro de Italia.

  2. Superb photos. Congrats on a truly great ride.