Mortirolo. Yes THE Mortirolo! We love Mortirolo, and, contrary to many of its “sans scenery” critics, we beg to differ! At #9 on the Top Italian Climb List, it is a stout climb and serious challenge. There is a reason this climb has been one of the most frequently visited (see chart, below) by the Giro d’Italia over the years. Yes, the distant views are often blocked by the thickly wooded forests bordering the road as we ascend, but to the interested and trained eye, there is much to behold.
Aerial photo of the Pass.
Don’t be shy - the Mighty Mortirolo Awaits . . . if you dare!
How to cycle Mortirolo from Mazzo di Valtellina
This is by far the most popular of the 4 routes to the pass and is the most difficult. Begin the climb in Mazzo di Valtellina by riding west on Via Valle from its “T” intersection with Via Pedenali (46.25478, 10.25602latitude / longitude).
Be prepared with proper gearing (30t for the average cyclist) because the average grade for this climb is 10.4% for 11.6 km gaining 1,273 meters.
The roadway is in very good shape and there is very little traffic on the ascent and the traffic we have encountered on our two trips here travels respectfully and at a safe speed.
Castle at km 1.2 (had been for sale 2016 but off market 2018
Pantani monument on tornante at km 7.5
The Marco Pantani memorial is located at tornante/switchback 11 and the cycling news report of its inauguration is:
“The inauguration of a new Marco Pantani memorial on the ascent of the Mortirolo mountain, which will this year be the final climb of the 20th stage of the Giro d'Italia, will take place on Tuesday, May 2. The association of Italian cyclists ACCPI, together with manufacturer Bianchi, brought about the memorial in honour of the 'Pirate', who died on February 14, 2004, in Rimini. The monument is located in Piaz de l’Acqua, some eight kilometres off the mountaintop.”
Math Quiz: And . . . .
. . . . how many switchbacks on Mortirolo?
O.k. I am a lawyer, not a mathematician - there’s your fair warning! According to the road signs, verified by our count as we looked up (briefly) from the pavement in front of us on this brute, there are 33 switchback/hairpins up the Mighty Mortirolo. We LOVE switchbacks, and the Italian Alps are perhaps the greatest venue for switches in the world and Mortirolo is one of its greatest ambassadors. We took the time to photograph every switchback and sign along the way. Our slideshow is located at the bottom of this climb page - enjoy!
Cycling Mortirolo from Edolo
The “easiest of the ascents to the pass but still no slouch at 16.8 km / 1,126 m / 6.7%.
We are on a busy highway for the first 4.5 km until turning onto a much lesser travelled and well maintained road for the majority of the climb. This is the “back way” to the passo - it is far to the south and isolated from the other 3 routes which all overlap themselves at some point. The Edolo path to Passo Mortirolo is the only approach that does not share the road with one of the other 4 routes to the top.
Climb begins in Edolo (pop. 4532, 2017)
Climb is on busy SS 42 until we turn left onto SP81 at km 4.5
Nice views as we climb.
The Giro visits fairly regularly
How to cycle Mortirolo from Grosio
This is really a fun climb and, after the traditional route from Mazzo di Valtellina, our favorite route to the top. This route begins at the northeastern edge of Grosio and runs along a typically narrow route to Passo Mortirolo. The views along this climb are the best of the 4 routes to the top. The roadway is in excellent condition and there is next to no traffic along this route.
Climb begins in Grossio (pop. 4,431, 2017)
14.2 km / 1,216 m / 8.5
Roughly 25 tornanti on this route to the Passo.
How to cycle Mortirolo from Tovo
This is another route up Mortirolo that is best done with at least a 30t cassette as it averages 10.5% for 12.2 km. While this climb presents a great cycling challenge, it is the least scenic of the climbs - for much of the route we are bordered by thick forest which block our views of all but the roadway ahead - on a climb that registers a 10.5% as an average grade, perhaps just the road in front and directly in front is all we need . . .
12.2 km / 1,285 m / 10.5%
Views are blocked by forest along much of this route.
There are no routes to Passo Mortirolo that don’t go through many tornanti.