Friday, May 13, 2011

Sella Nevea - Altopiano del Montasio

The northeast corner of Friuli Venezia Giulia is home to the Julian Alps (named in Roman times after Julius Cesar).  Today I'm making my first climb there- from Chiusaforte (383 m) to Sella Nevea (1162 m), then continuing to Altopiano del Montasio (1515 m).

I drove from home fairly early and started the bike ride from Chiusaforte around 9 AM.  It was cool and clear, perfect climbing weather.  The ride began with a long warmup ascending Val Raccolana.  This is a spectacular gorge, with dense fir trees covering the steep walls, and streams from the high mountains plummeting hundreds of meters down sheer cliffs to the valley floor.   One particularly large waterfall is visible on your right about 685 meters altitude, just past Piani.  

Now the previously gentle grade steepens somewhat, averaging 7.5% from 700-1160 meters, finishing with an awesome stack of long tornanti scaling the walls of the gorge.  Finally the road emerges at Sella Nevea, a ski resort that's mostly deserted this time of year.  You turn left at the sign for Montasio, while the main road continues to Passo del Predel on the Slovenian border.

The first 400 meters of the climb to Altopiano del Montasio average over 14%, which I rode standing.  I stopped at the next flat spot (end of a switchback) and hyperventilated awhile.  Then I continued and surmounted the following 18% stretch, finally emerging from the fir trees and entering the altopiano.  This is one of the prettiest places I've ever been- it's surrounded on all sides by mountains.   I explored the paved lanes and dirt roads criss-crossing the rolling meadows for awhile, listening to the birds and marmots.  What a wonderful place!

The descent was a very fast 22 km plummet, arriving back at Chiusaforte in less than an hour.  This is a wonderful climb and I'll definitely do it again.  I may try skipping Montasio next time and riding from Sella Nevea to Passo del Predel, then Tarvisio, and down the main highway back to Chiusaforte.   

Note: The Garmin starting elevation was around 330 meters, but should have been about 50 meters higher.  This seems to have carried over all the way to the top and back, so I've substituted the altitude values from the Ediciclo guide.

Monte Canin (2587 m) to the south

Panorama of Monte Canin

Jof di Montasio (2753 m)

Monte Sart (2324 m)

Panorama of ridge east of Monte Canin

The mountains southeast of Altopiano del Montasio

Close up looking south

Ridge east of Monte Canin

Trench from World War I atop Altopiano del Montasio

View down Val Raccolana toward Chiusaforte

Waterfall near Piani

Steep stretches climbing from Sella Nevea to Altopiano del Montasio

Switchbacks climbing to Sella Nevea

Final stretch up to Altopiano del Montasio


  1. Salve e scusa se non scrivo in inglese (privandoti così di qualche sana risata...).
    Volevo complimentarmi ancora per l'accuratezza con cui presenti gli itinerari, dalla quale traspare chiaramente la conoscenza che hai dell'ambiente montano veneto-friulano (almeno nei post pubblicati finora). Ne consegue una valorizzazione degli ambienti che descrivi e una buona pubblicità per gli stessi.
    Quando mi capita l'occasione, segnalo il tuo blog ad amici e conoscenti proprio per la sua qualità. Spero che il tuo blog possa incuriosire e attirare non solo gli appassionati di cicloturismo, ma anche altre tipologie di frequentatori.
    Avanti così, che vai bene (decisamente!).
    Mauro Zambon

  2. Grazie mille per i complimenti gentili, Mauro. Provo di fare onere alle tue parole!