Cycling Tour 2004: Passo del Mortirolo (1852 m)


Sign at the start of the climb (near Mazzo di Valtellina). More images.


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 42'32".

Note that on maps the Passo di Mortirolo is usually indicated as Passo della Foppa, which is in fact the correct name. The "real" Mortirolo (1896 m) is situated a few hundreds of meters south of the Foppa summit.


 Ascent:  To overcome:  Gradient:  Time:  Average speed:
 West slope: from Funny Bar, Mazzo di Valtellina (552 m)  distance: 12.6 km
 elevation: 1300 m
 average: 10.3%
 maximum: 18%
 Ward: 1h23'
 Oof: 2h12'
 Ward: 9.9 km/h
 Oof: 6.3 km/h


Navigation: Start page | Albula Pass | Passo di Foscagno et al. | Passo di Gavia | Passo dello Stelvio | Pass Umbrail

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).


You are warned: "strada con forte pendenza, procedere con prudenza"

Thumb up, we have made it ! (if we are looking not too happy, it is because of the rain).