Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sella Ronda

Il Giro dei Quattro Passi (or “Sella Ronda”) is a popular ride on the border of Dolomiti Bellunesi and Trentino Alto Adige.  Every July for one day, all motorized traffic is banned and the route is covered in bicycles.  This year they added another day, 18 September when I planned to go.  But the provision at www.ilmeteo.it looked bad, so I decided to try this week instead.
I drove away from home at 5:30 AM and arrived at Arabba (1600m) at 8:30.  I would recommend a flatter warmup (maybe from Pieve di Livinallongo), but I started right in Arabba.  From there, Passo di Pordoi (2239m) is a beautiful ride- covered in sunny meadows surrounded by peaks, with 33 tornanti lazily looping back and forth.  To your right looms imposing Gruppo Sella (3152m), the massive range you will circumnavigate for the next 50 km.    
The descent down the other side of the pass toward Canazei is a different environment.  It is covered in medium-size pine trees, and at this hour was cloaked in the mountain's shadow- very cold.  There’s a turn-off around 1750 meters heading up to Passo di Sella.  This was the hardest part of the ride to me- steep and cold, panting clouds of steam.  I soon warmed up and took off my windjacket, then continued grappling up the slope to 2244m.  Beautiful Sassolungo (3181m) towers to the west- I kept turning around to see it from different angles all the way to Passo di Gardena.
The descent from Passo di Sella to Plan de Gralba (1871m) was gentle and not too cold.  It passes through the rolling meadows of Val Gardena, very pretty. After the Plan you climb gradually up to Passo di Gardena (2121m).  
The view of green meadows descending to Corvara is gorgeous.  It’s a very long, easy descent, lots of tornanti, peaks to admire, mountain bike tracks crossing the road, and today a raduno of old Triumphs, wallowing around curves and straining up hill.  All the while, Gruppo Sella dominates the scene, high above on your right.
Corvara (1522m) is a big tourist area, and the start of the climb to Passo di Campolongo (1875m).  It’s quite steep up until Corsa Alta Badia (golfing), then mellows out.  After the pass is a fun descent to Arabba.
Can’t beat the scenery on this ride- really magical.  I’ll have to try it in the opposite direction next time (hopefully soon!)


Tornanti on climb to Passo di Pordoi

The meadows below Passo di Pordoi

Gruppo Sella (3152m) looming above the meadows


Close up Gruppo Sella

The last of the 31 tornanti on Passo di Pordoi

Sass Pordoi (2950m)

El Capitan-like rockface towering above climb to Passo di Sella 
The Marmolada glacier (sorry about the haze)

From Passo di Sella looking back at Gruppo Sella

View down Val di Fassa toward Canazei

Sassolungo (3181m) above Passo di Sella

Cinqueditta (2918m)


Looking north across Val Gardena

Gran Cir (2592m) above Passo di Gardena

Close up of tall spires along Gran Cir ridge

Looking back at Sassolungo from Passo di Gardena


The view toward Corvara from Passo di Gardena

Sass Songher (2665m) above Colvara

Satellite view



Left to right: Passi Pordoi, Sella, Gardena, Campolongo 








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