Thursday, July 19, 2012

Passo di Stelvio da Prato

This legendary climb speaks for itself:
- punto di partenza: Prato allo Stelvio, 950mt
- lunghezza: 24.3 km
- pass altitude: 2758 mt
- dislivello: 1808 mt
- pendenza media: 7.4%
- 47 tornanti

I left home at 0330 and arrived about 0800.  I spent 10 minutes looking for parking in Prato but it's all either pay-to-park (100 minutes max) or marked for clients only.  So I drove out of town and found a free spot along the climb.  I warmed up on the easier 5%-7% beginning stretch of the climb.  After the first 10 km it starts getting a bit steeper.  I remained seated except to stretch, and on the brief steeper parts.  The climb is long but not super-difficult, so don't be intimidated.  Today was especially nice; though there was full sun, the cool air compensated and I never felt too hot.  Traffic wasn't too bad on the early climb but quite busy when I descended- probably best to get started 0600-0700 so the traffic isn't too heavy on the descent. 
By the time I descended there were tons of cyclists climbing up: lots of ladies, older folks, even a couple of kids on small race bikes with 24" wheels.  Much different than the riders I usually encounter climbing around Friuli.

The most striking aspect was the natural beauty of this climb- whitewater, wildflowers, spruce forests, snow-capped peaks, even a very cool glacier.  I definitely want to ride it again  and explore the environs more. Upper Sud Tiröl is surely one of the most spectacular areas in Italy.

Roiling Rio Solda along the early kilometers of the climb

Wonderful view of Trafoi (1540m) church and surroundings

A very nice German man asked if I wanted a foto taken;
sorry as always for the helmet hair

View of the upper stack of switchbacks

A different angle

Awesome glacier "flowing" down slopes near Passo di Stelvio

Close up: note the dark grey "rock meal" covering most of the glacier surface

Glacier overshadowed by beautiful wildflowers

More wildflowers

Yet more wildflowers

Mountain biker scaling a switchback

Rio Solda with driftwood and whitewater  

Starting warm-up and the first tornanti

The tornanti higher up

Last 14km average 8.6% gradient

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