Passo Giau

With a summit at 2,236 meters, the Passo Giau doesn’t earn a high ranking in the list of highest (paved) passes in Europe. However, with an average of 9.1%, the climb from Selva di Cadore is a tough one.

Climbing the Giau is also part of the long version of the Maratona dles Dolomites, the “Percorsa Maratona”.

Both from our first base camp during the Giro’s of 2011 and 2015, the Giau was within biking distance.

Report 2011 here and 2015 here.

Selva di Cadore

Giau - profile from Selva di CadoreThis ascent is that of the Maratona and from Selva di Cadore it’s just over 10 km long, with 922 meters of elevation (9.1%).

You may also add the extra kilometers and elevation gain to even get to Selva di Cadore, unless you come descending from the Staulanza – from Caprile, this is at least some 5 kilometers and 300+ meters of elevation…

The grades on the official climb fluctuate between 7+ and 10+, meaning that you will also meet stretches of 12 to 14%. Since there are no sections where you can “relax” and catch your breath, you’d do well to settle for a pace you can maintain during the whole climb.

As I quickly found out during my ascend in 2011, when I had “only” climbed the Valparola before it and the Falzarego – from Pocol – felt almost like a recovery after that.

And although there are a few nice hairpins in the climb, it didn’t make much of an impression for its beautiful views, even though the surroundings are overwhelming by nature in this area. The near 360 degree view at the summit was breathtaking…

Video of this ascend from the Col Collective here.


Giau - profile from PocolThe commonly marked as “easy” climb up the Giau, is the one starting in Pocol.

This ascent is even shorter with 8.6 kilometers and with 716 meters of elevation, the average grade is “only” 8.3%.

But, other than via the descent of the Falzarego, Pocol can only be reached from Cortina d’Ampezzo – the about 4 additional kilometers from there to Pocol come with an elevation of around 300 meters too.

Plus as usual, averages mean jack shit and also during this climb you will be presented with a maximum grade of 18%.

So, I did not experience this side to be that much easier. Obviously, this was also influenced by the circumstances under which I ascended it in 2015…

After the Tre Cime di Lavaredo – also starting from Cortina – had already all but demolished me, I climbed a completely deserted Giau in the freezing rain, with a brisk wind in the upper half as an added bonus.

During this trip, I could only guess at the views – low clouds and mist veiled a lot and only a couple of times did I get a glimpse of what it would / could look like under better weather conditions – obviously, I had no view to speak of at the summit.

Picture gallery on Google+ (the first picture is from 2011, when I climbed the ‘Selva’ side) – video of the Pocol ascend from the Col Collective here.