Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cinque Torri

I'd always thought Cinque Torri above Cortina was reachable only by chair lift or hiking.  Then I saw an article about some tourists riding a bike up it so I had to go investigate.  I drove to Cortina very early then hopped on the road bike just as the sun was peeking above the mountains.  It was cold at 1200 meters but leg warmers and a wind jacket combined with the exertion of climbing kept me from freezing. 

I ascended toward Passo Falzarego on the nearly deserted main highway.  What a difference from July-August,when the road is covered with diesel-belching motorhomes and tour buses almost too long to clear the switchbacks.  Soon I was up in the bright morning sun and I passed the turn  off for Passo Giau at Pecol.  A bit further up at 1724 meters I reached the left turn for Cinque Torri.

It's a narrow mountain lane, with barely room for the occasional car to pass a bike riding on the edge.  After dipping down to Rio Falzarego and a brief flat spot, you reach the climb.  This is one of the toughest little roads I've done: in the next 4 km you rise 412 meters.  No big deal you say, it averages 10%, but it does it with a relentless series of 15-18% grapplings, with brief dips down to mere 8-9% in between.  A had to stop and hyperventilate at least 4 times.  No matter how hard I inhaled-exhaled I couldn't seem to get enough oxygen to power my legs.  Once I stopped and got my gasping under control I could restart and pedal another 300-400 meters distance.  Finally made it to Rifugio Cinque Torri at 2137 meters and stopped to take some pictures.  A minivan full of French folks arrived, donned their gear and headed toward Torre Grande to do some climbing.  

I enjoyed the steep descent (pavement is good but watch for loose pebbles on the centerline) and the lovely switchbacks back down to Cortina.  This will be be a new benchmark for me to retry now and then.  Maybe next year I'll be able to cruise up non-stop.


Morning sun peeping into Cortina altopiano

Sun beaming through a notch in peak above Cortina

Turn left here for Cinque Torri


Tofana Group peaks

Tofana di Rozes (3225m)
Tofana di Rozes from higher up

Torre Grande

Alpine meadows toward il Giau

Monte Averau (2649m)


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