Monday, August 10, 2009

Stelvio Tour, Day 5 - 29 July 2009

SilvaplanaseeCould we have two perfect sunny days in a row, driving alpine passes? Yes, it appears we could: today was another wonderful mainly cloudless, hot, sunny day. Leaving St Moritz we popped over a barely noticable pass, the Majola (Pass 7: 5955ft,1815m) before crossing into Italy and heading over the Spluga Pass (Pass 8: 6932ft, 2113m) where we crossed back in to Switzerland. Avoiding the main road we also avoided the San Bernardino Tunnel, instead taking the San Bernardino Pass (Pass 9: 6775ft, 2965m)
Slow traffic on the Spluga Pass
The height loss on the far side of the pass seemed much greater than the gain on the ascent as we wound down to the valley floor. Passing through a number of villages we finally turned north to tackle the Sankt Gottard Pass. This was a challenge in that there are three ways to get over the pass: a motorway; a new highway and the the old original road.Cobbles on the Sankt Gottard It was not clear which of the last two we were meant to take, or indeed which one we were on until the road became cobbles. Surprisingly they are in the process of cobbling the entire ascent – who knows why, the cyclists must hate them for it. Eventually we rattled our way to the top and ticked off Pass 10: 6860ft, 2091m.

AndermattDown the other side we found the pretty village of Andermatt were we stopped for refreshments before setting off to climb the Furka Pass (Pass 11: 7992ft, 2436m). From the top the you can see the road snaking down, then along the valley floor and a road climbing out the far end of the valley. Was this to be our route?
Looking down the Furka to the Grimsell in the distanceLooking back at the Furka from the Grimsell
Indeed it was; after driving along the valley floor we ascended the Grimsell Pass (Pass 12: 7103ft, 2165m) leaving us one last pass for the day; Pass 13, the Brunig Pass, 3307ft, 1008m, from where we headed for Alpnachstad and our hotel for the next two days.

Going down the Spluga13 apline passes in two days: not knowing the altitude of the valleys we cannot say how many metres we gained and lost over the two days and we certainly did not count the hairpin bends; but the weather was wonderful, the views were stunning and the driving experience fantastic.

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