I've ridden up Val Aupa from Moggio over Sella di Cereschiatis a couple of times enroute to Passo del Cason di Lanza, but never heard of Val Alba or Monte Vualt. Then I saw a mountain bike site mention it, and noticed it was mostly paved. Why not try it with a road bike?
I left home in the car worried about the overcast and chance of rain in the forecast, then a couple of km down the road it started drizzling. It was quite dark and stormy looking to the northeast, but I pressed on. By the time I reached Gemona it was pouring and I was pondering whether to ride further south where the skies looked better. Then the rain let up and it looked better to the north again. When I arrived in Moggio it was merely dripping.
I parked and an older Italian guy in a bike jersey drove up and was calling people on his cell about a group ride. I told him where I was going and he looked at my road bike and said I'd need a triple crank because Vualt is too steep. He also was worried about my skinny tires on the unpaved sections. He showed me a map on the entrance of the restaurant I'd parked in front of (which I think must be the Moggio bike club's hangout) and gave me some hints about the ride. Very nice man.
The road from Moggio up Val Aupa is a very gradual climb- good for warming up before the steepness. Unfortunately it was only 2 or 3 km before the turnoff for Pradis, and my legs were pretty creaky from lounging around the beach in Tuscany last week. So I tried to take it easy as possible, but 10 km averaging 10% is tough to slack on. There are some very steep bits over 20% with several long 15-17% pitches to keep you humble. I was amazed to make it up to the dirt road (1098m) with only a stop for pictures and wind jacket stowage. The dirt surface was pretty good for the most part and I made it up the hill and then the couple-hundred meter long downhill section before pavement briefly resumed near the Rifugio Vualt junction. The rifugio is a stone cabin for hikers at 1136 meters. I decided to try to make it up the next paved section to the World War I military hospital at 1300 meters. I made it but I was toast. I took pictures awhile, resolving to return on mountain bike to finish the road another day. But when I got back on the bike something made me want to keep climbing. This lasted a couple of hundred meters until I conveniently arrived at a construction zone. So here I started pushing the bike up the hill past the road work and continued further till I reached a level spot, then rode steeply up to end of pavement at 1368 meters.
Very slow ride down- there were now hikers with dogs and even an SUV. The previous downhill dirt section was now uphill, and I was surviving pretty well till I crossed a drainage channel, spun the rear wheel, the bike teetered briefly without forward motion and I luckily got a foot unclipped, avoiding a sideways face plant. After a couple hundred meters the dirt uphill levels out and I remounted.
This is great riding and scenery, with a number of variations to try with MTB when I return. Here's Riserva Naturale Val Alba's website http://www.parcoprealpigiulie.it/it/principale/il_parco/val_alba/val_alba.aspx
|A couple km from Moggio turn right for Pradis|
|A ways past Pradis avoid this left turn- keep going straight|
|Shortly afterward, take a right toward Val Alba|
|Much later, Rifugio Vualt (1136m)|
|Ruins of WW I hospital (1300 m), with Monte Vualt in background|
|From hospital, towers of Cima della Vacca and Cima della Pecora|
|Cuel da le Fratte, left; Monte Vualt, right|
|Monte Forchiadice above Rio Alba headwaters|
|Monte Forchiadice, left; Cima Valeri, right|
|Rio Alba descending with left to right Monte Forchiadice, Cima Valeri, |
and Monte Chiavals
|Monte Masereit cliffs over east bank of Val Aupa|
|Creta Grauzaria (2065m) west of Val Aupa|
|The view looking back up Val Aupa from northern confine of Moggio|