The Mortirolo Pass by road bike
The Mortirolo Pass is the goal of all cyclists. After its discovery in the Giro d’Italia in 1991, it became probably the most famous climb in Italy, not so much for its history, length or altitude, but for its difficulty.
The “noble” climb is the one that starts from Mazzo di Valtellina. Over the years we have tried to imitate and surpass it with other, perhaps even harder climbs, such as the Zoncolan, but the Mortirolo is unique.
1. Some numbers
The figures speak for themselves: an average gradient of over 10% with peaks of almost 20%.
Altitude at the start of the Mazzo di Valtellina 552m. Total length 12.4 km.
2. Exit route
Leaving the Mazzo Di Valtellina there is a small ramp that leads to a crossroads: the climb begins on the left. The gradient increases inexorably and you are immersed in the wooded landscape of Mortirolo.
The first 3 km, fairly steady at around 10%, are just a prelude to what lies ahead.
3. El centre
The central part is undoubtedly the most difficult section. After a few hundred metres past the church of St. Matthew you are suddenly confronted with a terrifying sight: the vegetation opens up and here is a ramp of about 20% that ends after much effort in the vicinity of the village of Termen.
We cross the “Pantan” in a short, less steep section and here we face the hardest part of the whole climb: 400m, all between 16% and 20% gradient. It seems like a never-ending climb. Once past the wall, the slopes continue to be considerable until “Cuscisc”, where the path flattens out for a short stretch and allows us to breathe and recover.
When you’re going to do the Mortirolo, you have to be patient. Very patient. You have to be clear that the difficulties are not over until the end. Inclines no less than 10% will keep on coming. The monument dedicated to Pantani on the eighth kilometre gives us strength, but above all it indicates that the worst is almost over.
4. The end
Finally, from the 9th km onwards, the gradients are “normal”, despite a few hundred metres over 15%.
The last kilometre is definitely one of the most beautiful you can see. Either because of the total change of scenery, which after more than 10 km of forest becomes much more open, or because of the many writings left on the asphalt to remember the feats they did, or because we are aware of having accomplished a challenging challenge.
A few more pedal strokes, and we’re there. The photo is a ritual, as is the descent with a smile while waiting to enter a bar.
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