from the Col Collective
Watched over by the highest peak in the Dolomites, the 3,343 metre high Marmolada, the Passo Fedaia is an enchanting journey of mystery and intrigue right from the very beginning. From Caprile, in the east, you’re faced with just over 14 kilometres of climbing at an average gradient of 7.5%, not so bad you may be thinking? Guess again.
I remember the first time I tackled the Fedaia it was the ninth climb after a monster day on the bike. We needed to make it back to Canazei before dark, just one little peak stood in our path. Meandering our way through the early villages past mythical creatures, sculptures and goblins towards Serrai di Sottoguda, one of Europe’s most beautiful gorge’s with limestone rock 100 metres high on either side, cascading waterfalls and a slither of tarmac pitching up to 11% felt like something out of Alice in Wonderland.
Captivated by its beauty it was only a matter of time before the Fedaia unleashed its full fury, reinforcing exactly why this is one of the hardest climbs in the region. From Malga Ciapela the road ramps up viciously to over 12%, holding its form for nearly 3 kilometres. A second to catch your breath at Capanna Bill rifugio and “BOOM” it hits you again, only this time harder. It was on this very section of road in 1998 that the great Marco Pantani set the Giro d’Italia on fire, demolishing the peloton and launching himself towards overall victory in the race.
Make sure you have compact gearing. As the road starts to switchback the gradient just keeps rising – 15%, 16%, 17%, 18% until the summit when you’re blessed with the beauty of the Lago Fedaia and the satisfaction of taming a true mountain legend.
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