Headed north from Tolmezzo (320m) around 7 AM then turned right toward Paularo (640m). I rode up the gently-rising valley of Torrente Chiarsò, which has dozens of little roads turning off and climbing into the surrounding mountains- I'll have to go back this Fall and do some exploration. At Paularo I found the right turn for Pontebba and began to ascend. After winding through the little villages on the outskirts of Paularo the road becomes very steep. I stopped to get a couple of fotos here and continued to climb. Soon you are skirting a narrow ledge along cliffs high above the roaring Chiarsò. Just when you are glad to have reached 1100 meters, you lose 130 of them again by descending steeply to a bridge over Torrente Chiarsò. Now you must start climbing again, very steeply (14-15%) through grassy meadows past Casera Ramaz. You re-enter dense spruce forest and soon arrive at the lovely waterfalls of Rio Malinfier (1159m). Here begins another hellish stretch of 14-15%, which seems like it will never end. Finally the grade lessens briefly as you pass Casera Valbertad Bassa (1361m) (note the dirt road on your left which leads 2km to Austria). After about 3 more kilometers you finally reach the pass of Cason di Lanza (1552m), grassy pastures with dolomite peaks on both sides.
The descent was much more fun, with lots of drainage grates to bunny hop, swooping curves, and even a chunky marmot who scurried across the road before diving into some rocks. Lovely dense forest and scenery, but I'm afraid it's even steeper than the west side. I climbed it two years ago but I don't know how I made it. The rockslide I had to carry the bike over last year has been bulldozed and now only requires slowing on the dirt surface. Eventually you end up in Pontebba (561m).
Now I headed up through Studena Alta's meadows and over Sella Cereschiatis (1066m). I've descended down this side before but never climbed it- nice easy workout. After the top you get a long wonderful descent through the wildness of Val Aupa, surrounded by rocky cliffs, to the town of Moggio. Here you join the old main road SS13 which is wide, well-paved, and almost deserted because most traffic uses the autostrada- a great bike route all the way from Travesio to Tolmezzo.
I will try climbing Passo Cason di Lanza from Pontebba in the next couple of months- it will be hard but the natural beauty of the wilderness makes it worth it.
|Monte Sernio (2187m) above Paolaro|
|Monte Zoncolan in the distance above Villamezzo|
|Torrente Chiarsò at 971m|
|Righthand Rio Malinfier waterfall (1159m)|
|The lefthand falls|
|Over the pass, looking down the valley of Torrente Pontebbana|
|Beautiful meadows of Studena Alta|
|Creta di Pricot (2225m) from Studena Alta|
|Creta di Gleris (2098m) from Frattis|
|From left to right, climb to Cason di Lanza and descent to Pontebba|
|From right to left the climb over Sella Cereschiatis |
and descent down Val Aupa
|2 km of 10.8% climb out of Paularo|
|5.6 km of 10% average grade from Torrente Chiarsò bridge to pass|
|Note the quantity of greater than 10% gradient, |
as well as greater than 15% gradient