Colle del Gran San Bernardo Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Colle del Gran San Bernardo


How many climbs include a pass made famous by Julius Caesar and Napoleon?

Page Contributor(s): Ard Oostra, Switzerland

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Climb Summary

Climb Summary

Cycling Colle del Gran San Bernardo (Italian side)

Ride 34 kilometers gaining 1,745 meters at 5.1% average grade.

Gradients from Italian Side


Steepest kilometer starts at km 29 (7.5%)

Gradients from Swiss Side


Steepest kilometer starts at km 20.1  (9.4%)

“[Great St. Bernard Pass] is the third highest road pass in Switzerland. It connects Martigny in the canton of Valais in Switzerland with Aosta in the region Aosta Valley in Italy. It is the lowest pass lying on the ridge between the two highest mountains of the Alps, Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa. The pass itself is located in Switzerland in the canton of Valais, very close to Italy.”  Wikipedia - Great St Bernard Pass

This is a historical pass that dates back to well Before Common Era.  According to Wikipedia, the pass first appears in history in 390 BC when Celtic tribes of the Boii and Lingones used it to invade Italy.  Famous generals of note have used the pass for military purposes - one going north and the other south:

1.        First came Julius Caesar (or actually his top commander, Servius Galba) in 57 BC.  Galba having failed to seize the pass.  Augustus later succeeded in securing the pass for Rome and a road soon thereafter built under the direction of Roman Emperor Claudius.

2.        Next up - Napolleon from the north. In May, 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte sent 40,000 men over the pass to attack an Austrian army that had laid siege to French-occupied Genoa.  See, Wikipedia - Great St Bernard Pass

So to has the French Grand Tour passed over Colle del Gran San Bernardo 5 times in the past. Great St Bernard Pass 

It appears the pass name derives from the hospice for travellers constructed there in 1049 by, you guessed it Saint Bernard of Menthon.  So to does the name for the great snow rescue dog derive! Wikipedia - Great St Bernard Hospice