Another dreaded, steep climb: the Mortirolo (or Passo della Foppa) with a summit at 1,852 meters. It used to be the favorite mountain of Marco Pantani.

“If you want to die, this is where you go” – encouraging words, often found when reading reports about this climb…

However, I think the Mortirolo from Mazzo di Valtellina, labeled the most difficult, is not much worse than the Gerlitzen – sadly, the latter is hardly known to anyone, but I can assure you it’s as tough as the Mortirolo, especially the climb from Tschöran…

Described here are the three “most famous” alternatives, but there are quite a few ways to the top of the Mortirolo, many of which no more than goat paths and/or hiking trails.

This means that with a mountain bike, you have some more options to exhaust yourself. One alternative that is used in at least one gran fondo, is the one from Tovo with grades up to 26%…

I climbed the Mortirolo in 2011 from Mazzo and in 2015 from Monno – reports here (2011) and here (2015).

Mazzo di Valtellina

Mortirolo - profile from Mazzo

This most frequently traveled ascend is almost 12.5 km long from Mazzo, in which you’ll gain 1,300 meters – that’s an average of 10.4% and you may “look forward” to stretches of 18, 19, 20%…

However, this climb is rather constant in its steepness – the last kilometer is a little less intense, so you have the chance to recover a bit and look “fresh” when you take a picture / selfie at the summit.

It’s during this climb that you will pass the Pantani monument – it is located in turn 11, about four kilometers from the summit.

The summit is quite desolate – like the Zoncolan, there is nothing to do. But if you would like to raise a glass on your accomplishment or eat a snack, then ride on down towards Monno – about one kilometer past the summit, you will find the Albergo “Passo Mortirolo”…


Mortirolo - profile from GrosioDeemed a slightly easier alternative on the west flank, is the climb from Grosio, which is located just north of Mazzo.

This climb is 14.8 kilometers long, with an altimeter gain of 1,222 meters. I’ve seen this end twice as a downhill, never have I climbed it.

From what I was able to assess – as far as possible in a descend – this climb seems a lot more irregular, which also corresponds to what you can see on the profile card of CBB.

Despite the deceiving 8.3% average, many stretches are possibly even steeper than the ones found in the climb from Mazzo, but there are “easier” parts to recover a bit.

This climb joins the one from Mazzo at turn 8, some 3 kilometers before the summit…


Mortirolo - profile from EdoloFrom the (south) east you can tackle the Mortirolo from Edolo – this is the road towards the Tonale (Ponte di Legno) and the first couple of kilometers from Edolo until the Monno turn, can be used as a good warm up.

From there you need to overcome an 900 meter elevation gain in approximately 11.7 kilometers – relatively speaking, this may be considered easy.

And while I do not, I did find this climb considerably less difficult than the one from Mazzo. Which, depending on other factors, like weather, probably means it could still break you…

In particular the stretch from about two kilometers from the summit – starting just before San Giacomo – might make you swear: under shelter of the trees, you’ll grovel you’re way up as the grades rise to 16%…

A good indication of the steep nature of this part, is the fact that it has no less than 10 hairpins; numbering starts at 12 just outside Monno, about 7 kilometers down the road…

Coming up this end, you will pass the only tavern near the summit – about a kilometer before you arrive there, you’ll pass the Albergo.

Picture gallery (2011 and 2015) on Google+

Giro d’Italia 2015 – Stage 8

Aprica & Mortirolo

As it seemed yesterday’s extra / half rest day had done me well, I was hoping to complete a slightly more challenging stage today.

Keeping in mind the restrictions on distance and knowing that sustained climbing efforts of over 11% were most likely not possible, I looked at the Mortirolo from its “easy” side, Edolo / Monno…

After all, with all due respect, the profile from that end doesn’t look half as scary as the one from Mazzo or Grosio.

So, since I stated that the climb from Mazzo “did not hurt as much as expected” in 2011 – probably because I did the Zoncolan shortly before it – I was hopeful that I would be able to make it.

Read moreGiro d’Italia 2015 – Stage 8

Giro d’Italia 2011 – Stage 6


Mortirolo info page

GPS of the MortiroloBefore checking in to the Alpen Hotel in Valdidentro, Toerbeest made a stop in Mazzo di Valtellina, so Cyclopaat could climb the Mortirolo (profile).

This climb is considered to be one of the toughest in Europe, but after the Zoncolan, any climb (here) seems like a piece of cake 🙂

Besides, the Mortirolo offers more shady – tree covered – stretches than the Zoncolan, which makes a BIG difference under sunny conditions.

Read moreGiro d’Italia 2011 – Stage 6

Italy 2011 – D-Day

Giro d’Italia 2011 – D-Day

Toerbeest and Cyclopaat are leaving for Italy later today for their own version of the Giro d’Italia 2011.

For first time (foreign) visitors: the latter is Robert, the former is Paula, who will support C. during his bicycling trips.

She will follow him by car, take pictures, shoot movies and provide him with supplies (varying form food to dry clothes).

All-in-all she’s probably delivering a bigger effort than our self declared cycling hero…

Anyway, first stop will be the Albergo Bräuhaus in San Pietro (Lajen, Bolzano) – from there, C. will conquer some high altitude passes and on Sunday he will enjoy a (car and motor bike free) Sella Ronda Bike Day with 4 mountain passes.

On their way to Mestre for the Open European Mahjong Championship (OEMC 2011, July 7 ~ 10), they will stop in Ovaro so C. can climb the fearsome Monte Zoncolan.

After the OEMC, they will head back to Nothern Italy, to the Alpen Hotel Chalet in Valdidentro. On their way there, they will stop in Mazzo di Valtellina, so C. can climb the Mortirolo.

Other passes on the menu are the Gavia, Stelvio and Umbrail.

On a – sort of – regular basis, depending on just how worn out C. will be at the end of each day, you will find new blog posts here, so be sure to check these pages on an equally (ir)regular basis 🙂