Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monte Grappa da Pederobba

After reading about Monte Grappa on Italian Cycling Journal and I got curious and decided to check it out.  The closest climb I've done previously was Valdobbiadene to Rifugio Mariech (1510m) on Monte Cesen.  So I thought I'd ride from Valdobbiadene to nearby Pederobba and start the climb there.

Left home at 5:30 AM and arrived in Valdobbiadene a couple hours later.  I noticed the signs weren't too clear on which way to go, so I decided to drive to find the way, rather than getting lost on the bike.  After driving around aimlessly awhile, I saw a road for Padova which crossed the Piave River so I took that. Luckily this went through Pederobba, so I parked and started the climb.

This is an odd climb because it's actually 3 climbs strung together.  The first, from Pederobba (213m) to Passo del Tomba (861m), ascends 11 tornanti through cool shady forest.  The average grade on the tornanti section is about 9%, with 3 steep ramps in a row near the top, one at 18%.   This ends in a natural meadowy area at the passo (grazing is forbidden, so lots of wildflowers), with some gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside.  The view ahead was more troubling- the second climb up the slopes of Bocca di Forca and Monte Palon to La Vedetta at 1445 meters.

After a short descent you begin 5km of tornanti averaging 11%, with stretches of 15-16%.  It's mostly exposed to the sun, so it would be very hot later in the day in summer.  This is the hardest part of the climb.  Eventually the gradient eases a bit, with fantastic views down the sheer slopes to the pianura.  The cliff walls along the road have dozens of tunnel openings, which seem to lead upward to fortifications along the cliff tops.

Now another descent carries you away from the cliffs to an area of lovely rolling meadows, Pian della Bala (1300m), surrounded by mountains.  I was lucky and managed to traverse the lane before a herd of Holsteins wearing bells crossed on their way to pasture.  Dozens (hundreds?) of cowbells ringing in unison sounded like a large gamelan orchestra.  I will try to record this with my camera next time- really striking.

The mountain lane winds through an area with many World War I landmarks and hikers exploring them.  Now it traverses cliffs above heavily eroded slopes, then climbs more tornanti up the final push to Monte Grappa, at 1732 meters.  This section has an overall gentle average grade of 5.5%, but the steepness is skewed toward the final 3.3 km, which averages 10%.  At the top clouds were swirling, the huge WW I monuments silent in the cold wind.  I donned my windjacket and photographed some of the spectacular scenery.

The descent was fun- a welcome rest after all the grappling.  I had to re-ascend the 10% grade from Pian della Bala back up to Monte Palon,  but it wasn't that bad.  Reached the car again about 4 hours after starting, including stops to take pictures.  

I would definitely recommend this climb.  The scenery is wonderful and constantly changing- from dense spruce forest to rocky cliffsides, verdant alpine meadows, and finally a stark, windy summit.  All of this interspersed with dozens of historical sites from World War I.  Really fantastic ride. 

Monte Palon ascent (1445m) looming ahead from Passo Tomba (861m)

Colline Asolane rise from the plain south of Passo Tomba 

The slope of Monte Palon with tornanti

 Dolomiti Bellunese to the north 

Goat sign at junction with climb from Paderno del Grappa
(Salto della Capra)

WW I memorial at summit

Ossuary with remains of the fallen from the battles on Monte Grappa

View of the beautiful alpine meadows of Pian della Bala

Cool peaceful spruce forest on the tornanti of
Passo Tomba

9% average grade on tornanti climbing to Passo Tomba

11% average on the tough tornanti up Monte Palon

Easy average grade on climb to Monte Grappa,
but the top 3 km are 10%

Some of the steep 16-18% stretches

Aerial view of the climb

The beginning- from Pederobba up Monfenera to Passo Tomba

Passo Tomba meadows and the first series of tornanti up Bocca di Forca

Traverse of Monte Palon to La Vedetta (1445m)

Beautiful alpine meadows of Pian della Bala

The windblown expanse of Monte Grappa's summit (1732m)

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