Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mangart

Monte Mangart is just across the Slovenian border from Altopiano Montasio in northeast Friuli.  Loved by local cyclists for its beautiful alpine environment, its smooth pavement and flowing switchbacks, but most of all its relentless 1360 meter elevation gain in 15km.  A must climb if you're in the area.

I started from Vedronza (319m), a bit northeast of Udine, and warmed up in Val Torre, gorgeous green valley surrounded  by mountains.  After Passo di Tanamea (870m) I descended to the Uccea River on the Slovenian border(570m).  Unknown to me, the climb out on the Slovenian side is quite steep up to 720m, then descends down to Zaga at 370m.  Ascending this climb would be trouble later.

Pretty rolling country in Slovenia, with countless crystal-clear white water streams and rivers.  After Bovec I climbed up past Kluže Fortress along the Koritnica River.  At 597 meters you pass through Log Pod Mangartom, continuing across its meadowy valley.  Soon this road steepens for a long haul up to Strmeč at  1030m, and just above that, the turn off for Mangart.

The spectacular Mangart road starts on sun-exposed slopes and then climbs into thick-trunked beech tree forest.  The shade cools thing off, but the steepness never abates.  There are 5 short unlit tunnels, only one of which was long enough to use the flashlight I brought along (though I kept my taillight on continuously).  Higher up you eventually leave the trees and enter alpine meadows with gorgeous wildflowers.  

Near the summit, a flock of goats was conducting a sit-down strike on the road, calmly chewing their cud.  A young Slovenian couple's toddler fed chunks of carrot and cauliflower to the hungry goats.  The road tops out at 2084m with a little loop road.  Beautiful views in all directions from here.

The descent was fun but almost too long-  nearly all the way down to Kluže (about 30km) before it levels out, climbing slightly.  Now the rolling bit from Bovec to Zaga, and the tough hot climb up to 720m above the border.  I think this was the hardest part of the whole ride because my legs/lower back were fried.  Gentler climb back up to Tanamea but even that was a struggle today.  I coasted down to Vedronza and drove home, bone tired. 



Kluže fortress from WW I

Koritnica River in deep gorge at the fortress

Waterfall at the mouth of valley climbing toward Mangart

Looking southwest from around 1700m

Tall steep cliff face above the switchbacks

Around 1900 meters, the road dwarfed by another huge cliff face;
this section was the site of the goat sit-in

Main peak of Mangart to the east (2679m)


To the southeast, Log Pod Mangartom's grassy meadows far below

These beautiful wildflowers were everywhere near the top

Garmin reading about 70m low- my fault,
should have manually set starting elevation.

The climb

Approach to the climb from Italy

From www.salite.ch

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