The Colle Fauniera, a.k.a. Colle dei Morti (“Mountain of the Dead”) is part of the Colli di Cuneo, a range of high mountain passes in the Cottian Alps, Piedmont, northern Italy. The rather ominous name Colle dei Morti stems from a fierce battle which occurred in the area during a 17th century clash between Franco-Spanish and Piedmontese troops.
The road was fully asphalted in 1999, to allow the Giro d’Italia to pass over it, after which it became more popular to the (cycling) tourists. I doubt that a lot of maintenance has been done on it since, as I’ve experienced first hand that the roads in the upper part of the pass are – besides narrow – in bad shape and possibly “deadly” too if you’re not careful, especially during a descend…
Generally speaking, this pass is not very much traveled – it is not that widely known and thus not (overly) popular to motorists, and the state of the road doesn’t attract as much as for instance the Stelvio.
However, while it may lack attractive hairpin sections, the views are spectacular and the green meadows, filled with a variety of alp flowers, are home to a large population of marmots.
With its summit at 2,481 meters, it also owns a top 10 spot in the list of highest paved passes in Europe.
I’m not sure how many “Pantani Forever” monuments there actually are, but I’ve cycled passed four of them so far: on the Mortirolo, my favorite, on the Galibier, on les Deux Alpes and this one.
It’s a little ‘creepy’ if you’re all by yourself on a gloomy day, like me during my trip up this beautiful mountain – the statue really fitted the wild desolation of the summit…
The Communal Council Castelmagno also wants to rename the mountain pass and give it the official name “Colle Pantani.”
However, at the time of writing, ratification from the Institute of Military Geography of Italy has not been given yet and it may never come to that either.
But, it would be an unprecedented event if it did – and fitting tribute? – since there is no known cyclist in the world that has a mountain named after them…
There are 3 possible routes to climb the pass on a road bike, all of them with an average grade of 7% or more.
This is the road I took during my Tour de France 2014 – the views higher up were overwhelming and because the passage at the summit turned out to be blocked by snow, we had the road even more to ourselves than usual…
Report of my trip here.
Starting from Ponte Marmora, the ascent is 22 km long and the elevation gain is 1,567 meters, which means the average grade is 7.1%.
And starting from Pradlèves, the ascent is 22.4 km long, with an elevation gain of 1,689 meters, which – at an average grade of 7.5% – makes this the toughest climb, looking at the grades anyway.
During the Giro’s of 1999 and 2001 the Fauniera ascent from Pradlèves was included in a stage – in 2001 it was also Cima Coppi.
Picture gallery on Google+