Page Contributor(s): Luke Hise, AZ
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Cycling the great Mortirolo, a Top 10 Italy Epic Bike Climb
Ride 11.6 kilometers gaining 1271 meters at 11.1% average grade.
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.
The approach to the pass has been from Mazzo di Valtellina in 11 of 13 Giro appearances.
The 1990 and 2017 Giro used the approach from Edolo to reach the pass.
Don’t be shy, the Mighty Mortirolo Awaits . . . if you dare!
This is by far the most popular of the four 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, 10.25602 latitude / 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.
Roadway Surface and Traffic Report: 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.”
. . . . how many switchbacks on Mortirolo?
Okay, 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!