Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Monte Cuarnan

Gemona is a small city northwest of Udine on the Tagliamento River.  It was built on the lower slopes of Monte Cuarnan (1372m) with Monte Chiampon (1709m) looming even higher above it.  I've driven there many times before, particularly a few years ago when my neighbor had several appointments at the university hospital there, but never biked there.  Today the weather was perfect so I gave it a try.

I left home before 6 AM and took it easy all the way to Gemona, 60 km away.  I was disappointed I didn't see any grifoni at the wildlife refuge at Cornino.  Maybe it was too early and the updrafts weren't strong enough to carry them up the cliffs yet.  Near Avesinis I turned right and rode through Trasaghis and then crossed the Tagliamento.  I headed up the steeply-tilted streets toward the centro, and reached the highest spot near the Duomo.  I then traversed the slope near the top of town heading north.  After quite a ways the pretty houses thinned out and I saw a road called Strada di Foredor, which begins switchbacking up the grassy slope.

After a bit the narrow lane entered a tree-shaded zone, which continued all the way up to 967 meters.  The pavement is mostly good, with a few rare craters, patches of loose stone, etc.  The gradient is very mellow and constant- mostly in the 5-8% range.  In the last km or so the road is crossed every 20 or 30 meters by deep, wide metal drainage gutters, so be careful when descending. 

At 967m  I entered a gravel parking area at end of pavement.  There is a very rough steep dirt road which leads one kilometer to Malga Cuarnan and Sella Foredor.  I saw a hiking trail marked 10 minutes to the malga.  So I put on my cleat covers and tried hiking up, alternately carrying/pushing the bike.  Finally the trail enters a meadow at 1037m with wonderful views of Monte Chiampon.  A dairy farmer had set up ropes around an area for his cows to feed, unfortunately smack in the middle of the trail.  I decided the bike might spook the cows, so I took some pictures here and turned around.  

The descent was nice, though you can't go very fast because of the drainage channels (which I bunny hopped) and the blind tornanti, with a few (not many) cars coming up.  I decided to take a different route through the upper part of town (Via Baldo instead of Strada di Foredor).  I would definitely avoid climbing Via Baldo to approach the climb- has a long 16-18% stretch, which you can easily avoid by taking Strada di Foredor instead.    

Took it easy on the ride home and just kept moving.  Got home shortly after 1PM, very hungry and tired.  This is an easy climb, very shady so the sun won't beat you down, with great views of the Tagliamento River and Monte Chiampon.  And as a bonus, it has 40 tornanti, more than any other climb in Friuli.       



Monte Chiampon attracting clouds

Close up of Monte Chiampon

The trail-blocking milk cows with Malga Cuarnan in background


Hazy Monte San Simeone rising from the Tagliamento River

Trasaghis at the bridge across Tagliamento River

Profile of the ride

Strada di Foredor approach and the first series of tornanti

The upper half of the climb

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