29 Jul

Four climbs in the Alps that give me goosebumps

In the last 8 weeks, I got to ride parts of the Slovenian, Italian, Swiss and French Alps covering 26 passes. The European Alps has hundreds of passes so this is a selection of a small list. Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you four passes which gave me goosebumps – and not because I was freezing. It was the same kind of goosebumps when you listen to a great singer who hits a certain pitch – there is something that just struck a cord with you and you are fascinated.
Here are the four climbs that I was fascinated with:

1. Stelvio, Italy

This climb is special. It makes my heart beat faster just seeing all the switchbacks heading up that wall of a mountain. Riding up Stelvio is like entering a painting. The small tunnels along the way make me feel I am entering a cave as there is water dripping from the walls. The waterfall from the side of the mountain and the vast landscape once over the second part of switchbacks just creates an unreal atmosphere.

Photo Credit: Velodrom Studio

Stelvio from the Prad side. The weather is unpredictable. This was in June, three weeks after the picture below.

Stelvio from the Bormio side.

2. Gavia, Italy

Maybe it was due to the weather but Gavia felt very mystical when I was heading from sunshine and short-sleeve into the clouds and snow. Especially at the top, despite the typical restaurant at the top of all passes, I felt like I am far away from civilization. I couldn’t take my eyes of the lake and the mountains in the background. The pitch-black tunnel towards the end of the climb added to the feeling that this mountain requires attention of all senses.

Photo Credit: Velodrom Studio

3. Fedaia, Italy

Similar to Gavia, the weather on Fedaia created an interesting atmosphere with low hanging clouds pressing against the mountain. This area is fully covered with grass which appeared to be extra green. At one point, I felt like I was in Lord of the Rings. It seemed so unreal.

Photo Credit: Velodrom Studio

4. Cormet de Roseland, France

I have a thing for climbs that feel out of this world. I got that impression of Cormet de Roseland. After a set of initial switchbacks (from Bourg St Maurice) I found myself surrounded by mountains that seem so far away – or are they actually close? Because there is no way to compare the actual size it was tough to gauge the vastness of the surroundings. The wind and the landscape made me feel vulnerable and so small.

Photo Credit: Andrew Dennes (Velodenz)

Photo credit: Denis Smyth

What is your favorite mystical, unreal, goosebumps-causing climb?

  1. Monika, you are living the dream.
    Favorite climb, the one I’m doing….

  2. andrea davolio marani

    Monika your blogpost brougth me back to the mind 3 clims that gave me goosebumps and making me feel a lucly , priviliged one.
    On top of a snowy and lonely Giau sourronded by snow-covered mountains.
    Climbing the Valparola with its stones on a splendid sunny day
    Descending from the Stelvio 15 minutes before the runners of Giro di Italia savoring the atmosphere and pathos of waiting for the passage of the race

  3. – Col de la Madeleine, Savoie, France – not sure why I enjoyed this one more than the others surrounding la Maurienne, but I really enjoyed it.
    – Going to the Sun Road, Montana, USA – absolutely stunning scenery on a fun, fun ride.
    – Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii, USA – not a classic alpine scenery climb, but beautiful in its own right. You will have extreme heat and humidity, sunburn, and cold. Over 3,000 m of continuous climbing. It is an epic climb, with few breaks – although it never really gets steep.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Jim! That makes me want to plan a trip to the USA!

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