Friday, August 10, 2012

Passo delle Erbe

Passo delle Erbe in Trentino Alto Adige is new to me, but I've seen a couple of reviews of the climb: one called it their all-time favorite climb, and another ranked it second only to Passo di Giau.  So I was curious and had to check it out.  

I arrived at the starting point south of Bressanone on SS-12, at a turnoff marked Val di Funes (540m).  I warmed up for a couple of km on a side road but it wasn't enough: the climb starts with 2 or 3 km of 9-12%, so it would have been better to have a few more miles in my legs.  The road climbs through the gorge of Rio Funes, then eases a bit as the gorge opens into grassy meadows below spruce-forested slopes.  I was surprised at the amount of traffic- lots of people commuting to work, and delivery vans/trucks headed upslope.  Then later in the morning the vacationers began arriving.

Soon you arrive at San Pietro (1100m) and continue through the little town with many tourists.  The porphry-block paved street for Passo delle Erbe turns to the left and begins climbing.  It's very narrow, steep and bumpy.  As it climbs out of town the pavement changes to asphalt but continues as steeply and narrowly as ever.  This finally lessens briefly, but resumes again and again in the next couple km.

Around 1600m suddenly the climb transitions to false flats and soon even a slight descent.  This ends in a beautiful pasture-covered amphitheater surrounded by dolomite peaks.  From here some more moderately difficult climbing to the pass at 2004m.  The road is a bit too busy this time of year considering the narrowness- 2 vehicles cannot pass one another without finding a wide spot, so lots of backing up, waiting, etc.   No big deal, but I'd recommend not driving up here in vacation season.

I have to agree with the other two reviewers: this is a gorgeous climb through some fantastic wild scenery.  And even this time of year there were moments when it was deserted; you could get a feel for how it might be in June or September.  There are also numerous ascent routes, allowing many loops and variations.  I'll definitely be back, and will try the climb up from San Martino in Badia next time.

One of many apple orchards covering Trentino Alto Adige

San Pietro church campanile

Wider view of San Pietro and Val di Funes

Pretty meadows above San Pietro

Monte Tullo (2654m)

Close up Monte Tullo

Sass de Putia (2875m)

Close up Sass de Putia

Plose grassy dome (2465m) above upper Val di Funes

Higher view down Val di Funes

Le Odle (3025m) above Santa Maddalena in Val di Funes

Looking back at Monte Tullo from above San Pietro

Pretty wooden-steepled chapel at Pradello

Castel Summersberg at Gudon, high above Rio Funes

Wildflowers along Rio Funes

Some of the steepness climbing out of San Pietro

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, thanks! We begin our Legendary Climbs of the Giro tour on this climb each year
    and will agree - it's beautiful. Many of our clients say the most beautiful of all the passes we climb. Larry did it this year and remembers how tough it is as well!