Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stelvio Tour, Day 4 - 28 July 2009

Stelvio Pass, northern ascent (thanks to redlineblog.com)Today, the fun began: Matrei am Brenner is at the foot of the Brenner Pass thus our alpine passes day began immediately. We took the B182 to enjoy the drive, while alongside or above was the motorway with all the heavy trucks grinding slowly up the incline. Pass 1 was completed at 4495ft 1370m and we crossed into Italy, dropping down to Vipiteno and then on the S44 over the Passo do Monte Giovo (Pass 2: 6870ft, 2094m) and down to Merano.

Laurence leads us up the StelvioFrom Merano we headed for Sponding where the Stelvio Pass begins. Fortunately Laurence in his TR5 and I had a fairly clear run without slow traffic in front and so enjoyed a wonderful romp up the hairpin switchbacks, a truly fantastic drive. (Pass 3: 9045ft, 2757m)

Looking down the other side of the StelvioThe Stelvio Pass is the second highest paved road in the European Alps and as you go over the top you skirt a corner Switzerland. The 60 hairpin bends on this pass make it one of the most challenging roads in the world.

Down the other side to Livigno before heading off over Passo di Foscagno (Pass 4: 7516ft, 2291m), Forcola di Livigno (Pass 5: 7595ft, 2315m) which took us into Switzerland; and finally over Passo del Bernina (Pass 6: 7801ft, 2378m) where we saw the Bernina Express coming down the mountain, the train we had ridden nearly 8 years ago.
Alpine viewAlpine view
The Bernina Express heads down the valleyAnd so we arrived at St Moritz, at the end of a fabulous day's driving and enjoyed a walk around the lake that we last walked on, in the middle of winter.

Yesterday the weather was wonderful but as we relived the day over dinner the thunder pealed and the heavens opened making us wonder what our alpine pass day was going to deliver. St MoritzBeing woken during the night with more thunder and heavy rain, we were quite apprehensive about our chances of seeing the Alps. However the scattered low clouds present when we awoke cleared quickly and we were privileged to see the Alps and drive the passes in glorious sunshine all day.

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