Fri, 10 July 2015
Minimum altitude: 195 meters
Distance: 46.34 km
Slope Aspect: North-EastTrip Reports
Vertical Climbed: 1,551 meters (5,089 feet)
Vertical Descended: 1,550 meters
This fearsome climb starts from the village of Ornavasso just north of Gravellone-Toce. Ornovasso (Umfasch) is an old Swiss Valser colony and some of the older locals still speak a kind of German dialect which is very hard to understand even for German speakers. You'll be climbing in pro cyclist Elisa Longo Borghini's training ground, she lives near the base of the climb.
The route to the summit is rated harder than Mortirolo and Mt. Zoncolan, one of the most difficult paved roads in Italy. The climb is not too bad until 970 meters, the average 10% gradient is interspersed with short sections of 15-18%. The the road surface degrades with pot holes and gravel and an average of 20% for 2km with sections at 33%. About 500m before Scirombei the road flattens and the surface improves to Corte Mezzo and a refuge.
After the 15km ride on main roads (thankfully quiet at 7am) I reached Ornavasso and took the left turn signposted for Boden. You pass by a number of churches. I stopped at Cortemezzo just before the final "wall" due to time but will be back next year. Remember you have to ride down what you came up. I tackled a bit of the 2km steep descent MTB style with my backside hung way back on the bike for balance. I was using 25mm tires on Open4 CD 36x wheels. Pretty robust stuff. Returning to the Boden road I climbed the 300 meters to Boden where there is another church. Again the place names reflect the Swiss Valser dialect.
I'd suggest a 34x32 combo for the climb if you are on compact or something bigger on an MTB.
At Boden there is a Trattoria which also offers rooms: http://www.trattoriaboden.it/
The ride down to Ornavasso is fast. At the village cross over the main road to head to a suspension bridge (cycles and pedestrians only). This takes you across the river and onto the Mergozzo road. Mergozzo is an interesting city with a 12th century church and a good cafe stop by the lake.
Pot holes above 970 meters after the hamlet of Bedomye. Warm and Sunny. Avoid on weekends due to the number of cars on the narrow roads.