Fingers crossed, we peeked out our bedroom window early. Rain had been forecast on and off for the whole day. There has been some, but it looked potentially ok.
We had mapped out a few different routes we could ride for our two full days here.
Heavy, misty clouds hung over all of the peaks surrounding Cortina. We decided to attempt a climb up to Passo Falzarego (2120m.a.s.l) and take it from there. I had done this climb last year arriving to sleety and cold conditions at the top, huddling in the small chapel trying to warm up before descending.
The climb is certainly not the longest or highest single ascent we have done. It is a 16 km climb from around 1200 m.a.s.l to 2120 m.a.s.l, so around 920m single ascent.
We headed off and climbed, climbed and climbed. Within a few km we already had great views of Cortina.
Through the one and only tunnel. The signage appeared every 1 km advising you how much further the summit was.
Tony saw two deer…look closely. An adult and fawn are just to the right of the green tree, behind the brown area. Snow clad peaks in the distance.
Patches of snow started appearing when we were at 1600m.a.s.l gradually thickening as we attained greater altitude.
The climb was at a tempo pace, so quite comfortable, despite the continual but steady ascent.
About 2 km from the top, a guy came past in his car, wound his window down and gave us a thumbs up. Ride on!
At the top, there was an amazing amount of snow for this time of year. I had previously thought that maybe the heavy rains may have melted it.
Here I am, just cresting the last incline.
There were a couple of motor bike riders at the top. One guy kindly took this photo.
Also taking a break were these dudes. There were three groups of these disguised test cars using the mountain roads as a private testing ground. They had overtaken us at huge speeds. Tossers!
This is the little chapel I used as a refuge last year. The snow is very deep around it and I did not attempt to revisit it.
The weather was good, we pushed onto Passo Valparola.
When you get to the top of a climb, it is traditional to have your photo taken with the sign, showing the altitude. I was having problems! When I did eventually stand up, my feet went down so deep that the snow was at thigh level, so maybe three feet deep.
So Tony went up instead, and then I used his foot well marks!
Now we had decisions to make. One part wanted to roll on down to Corvara. In fine weather, no problem, but this is an alpine region where conditions can change very quickly. The dark clouds ahead looked a tad ominous.
The sensible voice said, head back to Cortina, you got lucky, had a great climb and views, do not push your luck. The other, competing, very loud voice said, go for it!
I hate internal conflict. I asked Tony what his opinion was. “Whatever you reckon”……🙈🤷♀️
The road ahead did not immediately descend greatly. You could see a straight section for maybe 500 metres…so maybe ride it and then have a better look at what is ahead of the descent?
There was a WWI Museum (closed), and when I looked down the descent, I thought ‘nope’, not today.
So we did an about turn and headed back down to Passo Falzarego and then down to a cafe near Col Gallina where a cafe open. Coffee time!
We kept a good eye on the conditions and after a couple of coffees rugged up for the descent. All clothes on. These photos are of the cafe and Col Gallina.
The descent was very cold. Holding the brakes the whole way back to Cortina, with minimal peddling required ensuring you stayed chilled.
We were pretty pumped that we had achieved our higher altitude ride with no rain. The conditions at the top were as good as you could hope for. We got up there before the tourists (two buses arrived as we started descending).
The climb epitomised my love for the Dolomites. 💕
The map route and ascent chart.
What will tomorrow bring? Well the forecast looks like rain…but let’s wait and see.
Thanks for reading,
2 thoughts on “Dolomites”
Well done Shaz / Tony. A tricky call to go up when the weather is so poor.
I remember our guide telling us before heading up Stelvio three years ago (also in May when the Giro was on) …. and also snowing at the time, that a call to turn back was unequivocal. To be trapped by a snow storm likely meant hypothermia. It did snow and white out but cleared to sunshine latter but was still was very cold. I recall the marmot’s coming to sunbake on the road after the snow storm… you had to dodge them on the way down as they scurried out of the road!
Another peak tomorrow then?
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What a great ride.
I love all your pictures, but that first one really speaks to me.