Cycling Tour 2004: Pass Umbrail (2503 m)


1: Val Muraunza (Switzerland) with ascent to Pass Umbrail; 2: Pass Umbrail; 3: Swiss-Italian border;
4: Valle del Braulio with Stelvio ascend from Bormio (Italy)  More images.


The Pass Umbrail (locals prefer this Rheato-Roman order of words, instead of Umbrail Pass) is an almost one-sided pass. The Northern ascent, from Santa Maria in Val Müster, offers a genuine alpine climb, whereas the Southern slope is less than a kilometer long. The summit is situated very close to the Swiss-Italian border (see photo above). There the Umbrail road meets the road from Bormio to the Passo dello Stelvio. From the custom barracks to the Stelvio summit it is another 3 km. It seems that the Umbrail-Stelvio frontier is the most elevated border crossing in (Western) Europe

The importance of the Pass Umbrail is restricted. Other roads and passes offer an easier, and 12 month/year accessible, entry to Italy. The Pass Umbrail is mainly used by tourist and offers the possibility to make a beautiful 70 km Sta Maria -Umbrail - Stelvio - Prad am Stifserjoch - Sta Maria round trip. The data below refer to the round trip in anti-clockwise direction (Umbrail and remaining 285 m of the Stelvio uphill, and the 48 hairpin bends of the Stelvio towards Prad downhill).

Because the Pass Umbrail is of no real importance to the economy of the Swiss canton of Graubünden, there is little money for road improvement. About three, relatively flat kilometers between Sta Maria and the summit are still unpaved (approximately between 1800 and 2000 meters). Despite this stretch of "dirt road" the Pass Umbrail traverses the beautiful Val Muraunza. Especially the rather steep an windy road out of the Val Müstair is most rewarding. Also for statistical reasons the Pass Umbrail is a must: it is the highest "paved" pass in Switzerland. Surprisingly, none of the famous Swiss Alp passes reaches the 2500 meter level, although the Col du Grand St. Bernard (2473), Nufenenpass (2443 m) and Furkapass (2432 m) come close.


 Ascent:  To overcome:  Gradient:  Time:  Average speed:
 Swiss north slope:
from Santa Maria in
Val Müster (1375 m)
 distance: 15 km to Umbrail
     + 3 km to Stelvio
 elevation: 1128 m (Umbrail)
     + 256 m to Stelvio
 average: 8%
 maximum: 11%
 Ward: 1h23'
 Oof: 1h59'
 Ward: 10.5 km/h
 Oof: 7.5 km/h

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


Profile and more images.

The gradient profile of the Pass Umbrail (north slope) 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).

Photo above: Ward at the unpaved part.