Never before I have had the experience that a 10% climb can be a relief. That is probably the best way to characterize the Passo di Mortirolo, a bastard that you will appreciate when you have reached the summit. The Mortirolo demonstrates that the highest passes are not always the toughest. There are climbs that have stretches with a steeper gradient, but there are to my knowledge no other climbs that continue to climb well over 10% for so many kilometers. In that respect the Mortirolo seems unsurpassed by any other climb. The first 3 kilometers are relatively easy, after that the serious part comes: six kilometers 11 to 14%, with short stretches up to 18%. No way to relax. Finally the gradient drops to 10-7%. At the top there is satisfaction and, when we climbed the Mortirolo, rain.
The Mortirolo does not offer stunning mountain views. Nearly the full length of the climb winds through a dense forest, which makes it easy to focus your attention to next hundreds of meters in front of you (and they usually need your full attention).
With respect to the Mortirolo
we owe to the Giro d'Italia for two things: publicity and asphalt
of surprisingly good quality (given the unimportance of this connection
between the Valtellina and Val Camonica). Since 1990 the Mortirolo
has figured in seven Giro's. The very first time the riders had
to climb the east slope (starting at Monno) and descended to Mazzo
di Valtellina. Given the steep and narrow road on the Mazzo side,
that descend resulted in several accidents. After that, the Giro
reversed the direction. Thus, the Mortirolo has to be climbed
from Mazzo di Valtellina. To put our achievements in perspective,
the best time ever recorded is Marco Pantani's exceptionally fast
Profile and more images.
The gradient profile of the Passo di Mortirolo - from Mazzo di Valtellina - has been made by Ward Oud in Matlab, based on the read out of his Ciclomaster HAC 4 cycle computer. Click here to download a more detailed version in pfd format (12 k).