Stage 10 involved a side trip to Italy: after a car transfer over the Larche to get to the start of the Colle Fauniera, I got on my bike in Demonte.
Why this col is more aptly referred to as “Colle dei Morti”, I found out very quickly.
With a length of nearly 25 kilometers and an elevation gain of some 1,700 meters, the average is a healthy 7%.
The start is irregular, with frequent ups and downs, where the “ups” are basically close to and over 10% – there is no easing into this one…
The views, however, get more spectacular by the kilometer. There’s little traffic, which also may have been on account of the pass being closed near the summit, because of a massive patch of snow blocking the road.
We didn’t know that when we started, although I did see an announcement (in Italian, probably saying something about it) patched to a sided fence when we returned later on.
That fence was probably tossed aside to enable big trucks to pass. Despite the road being closed to mini vans, campers and caravans, the Italians do not mind hauling their 30 ton trucks up the mountain to unload cattle. Eventually, these trucks will have to turn and get down the mountain again and we got stuck in a traffic jam when the road got completely blocked because of this…
After a delay of about half an hour, they had managed to maneuver the trucks out of the way just enough to enable Paula to pass with the car.
The rest of the way, we had the road pretty much to ourselves, besides meeting the occasional Alpine Marmot. It got chillier and chillier the more I advanced towards the summit and the sometimes strong gusts of winds made the real feel of the second half rather arctic.
Close to the summit, I had to get off my bike and plow through the snow to be able to continue the last 400 meters or so, but I really wanted to reach the Pantani monument there.
Paula was lucky to be able to turn the car on a small plateau – going down backwards would have been impossible…
On our way down – in the car, because I didn’t want to descend the treacherous road on my bike – we ran into another traffic jam, albeit smaller and more quickly resolved this time.
All in all, this has probably been the most beautiful pass I’ve climbed thus far.
And I rate it higher – in difficulty – than the Stelvio, despite the numbers on ClimbByBike.
More general info on the Fauniera here.
Trip: 25.2 kilometers / 1,645 meters elevation (Garmin).