Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Passo di Pura - Lago di Sauris

This ride starts in Ampezzo (565 meters), a town in Carnia, a previously-Austrian section of Friuli north of the Tagliamento River. The first 3 km are on the main road to Passo della Mauria- then, turn right and the climb proper begins. You ascend an 8-11% grade up the tornanti for the next 6 km, the only break coming briefly in the curve at the end of each switchback. The views of the Tagliamento valley and surrounding mountains are spectacular. The climb is mostly shady, with a few open stretches. Luckily it was nice and cool today so the climb was very comfortable.

The top of the pass (at 1428 meters) is beautiful, a meadow of wildflowers surrounded by fir trees, with a rocky peak on each side. To the west, the range of mountains dividing Friuli from Veneto stretches across the horizon.

The descent is beautiful tornanti through dense forest- I definitely would love to climb this side later this summer. You then arrive at emerald green Lago di Sauris, surrounded by mountains. There is a strange tunnel which snakes around through the rocky cliffs adjacent to the dam, with no lights and no natural light from the openings due to curves. Luckily I was forewarned by my Passi e Valli In Bicicletta- Friuli and brought along my 20-year old Cateye headlight. Came in handy in the pitch black section- otherwise I would have run headlong into a rock wall.

The dam is very high- I'm guessing 200 meters? Then you descend through a series of well-illuminated but very old tunnels, with porphyry block pavement. Very shaky if you build up any speed, so I rode the brakes most of the way down. Still the small (2" square) blocks are holding up remarkably well given all the big trucks and buses bouncing on them for decades- they are mostly very level and intact.

One tunnel empties out onto a bridge over the Torrente Lumei, a single span over 100 meters long and 150 meters above the gorge. The other end of the bridge plunges immediately into another tunnel. After the last tunnel the road snakes down through the Lumei gorge and finally to Ampezzo, where I had parked my car.

Fun climb with fantastic scenery- highly recommended!

Looking back at Tagliamento valley and mountains

To the left, Cima Corsa, where I started the ride to Passo della Mauria a couple weeks ago, and surrounding mountains

Monte Tinisuta, to the left of the pass

Wildflower covered meadow of the pass

Looking southeast from the pass

Northwest toward Belluno

West toward Veneto

Southwest along the Friuli-Veneto border

Southwest- dolomite mountain

Deep gorge below the dam

Mountain to northwest above Lago di Sauris

Mountains to west and Lago di Sauris

Waterfall along the gorge

Friuli's answer to Bixby Bridge- Ponte Lumei

Lumei gorge from the bridge

Mountains above the gorge

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