Friday, August 26, 2011

Passo di Fedaia

A wonderful climb to Passo di Fedaia (2057m), ascending along Torrente Pettorina, up grassy slopes and onto the shoulders of Monte Marmolada.

I started in Caprile (998m), though leaving from Alleghe might give a better warmup.  The road climbs  up through several picturesque villages with flower-bedecked wooden balconies.  The last town, Sottoguda (1250m) offers you a choice of continuing on the main road, or entering a narrow chasm along Torrente Pettorina called Serrai di Sottoguda.  This is a fantastic, quiet place, immersed in shadow and the sound of tumbling water.  No cars allowed, and I was the only biker (bikes allowed to ascend only).  It's quite steep toward the end, grappling up the gorge to Malga Ciapela (1450m).

Here you rejoin the main road, which steepens into a long straightish ramp climbing 400 meters in 3 and a quarter kilometers (over 11% median gradient).  This section is called Capanna Bill, and is famous for high speed descents (over 100kph).  A girl in a tank top came flying down this, and I was impressed that the wind chill didn't bother her- an hour or so later when it was warmer I descended with zipped-up jersey and felt cold.

After this the switchbacks begin, including the steepest sections of 17-18%.  All told the 6 kilometers from Malga Ciapela to the pass average well over 10%.  They're completely exposed to the sun, so get an early start if climbing in summer.

The top of the pass has wonderful views of Monte Marmolada (3342m) directly above, with the last glacier in the Dolomiti, whose runoff is collected in a lovely blue lake.  It's a fascinating area, and sufficiently large that even the August touristic hordes didn't spoil the place.

I headed down the tornanti and stopped to photograph a flock of sheep coming up the pass.  I felt like I was flying down Capanna Bill but reviewing the data later, was actually going a little slower than descending Piancavallo.  This time I bypassed Serrai di Sottoguda and went instead through the short tunnel and high bridge over the gorge.  Later I stopped and took some pictures of Torrente Pettorina descending through the forest and meadows.  There's a wonderful hiking/biking path along here that runs all the way from Alleghe to Sottoguda.

I'll definitely be returning here again someday.  Lovely place!


The tall, narrow gorge of Serrai di Sottoguda

Monte Sassolungo (3181m) to the west 

Dolomite dome on Marmolada

Marmolada glacier amid peaks

Glacier runoff in gorgeous blue-green lake

Dolomite tower on ridge to the north

Monte Padon (2510m) to the northwest

Marmolada rock formations above lake

Close up of glacier-carved teeth on Marmolada

Peak on Marmolada facing east

Close up of the peak

Another of Marmolada's massive formations

Flock of sheep ascending Passo di Fedaia

Shepherdess getting mama goat started milking for thirsty baby goat 

Asini enjoying their friends, the sheep and goats

Torrente Pettorina below Serrai di Sottguda

The view back toward Passo di Fedaia from Bosco Verde

GPS track of ride

From start through Serrai di Sottoguda to Malga Ciapela

The upper half above Malga Ciapela

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