The Mortirolo Pass - also called La Foppa pass - is 1852 m asl and connects the Sondrio and Brescia areas - but only in the summer.
Many cyclists consider the climb to Mortirolo pass from Mazzo (on the Valtellina side) as the toughest in Europe.
In 1990 this secondary road, which is characterized by very steep slopes, was included in the Giro d'Italia. The solo breakaway of an emerging athlete named Marco Pantani in 1994 made of it a famous and popular destination for all racing bike lovers. A monument dedicated to the champion is now near the 11th hairpin bend, in memory of the routes that made him a champion: the great climbs of Giro d'Italia.
There're a number of opportunities to reach the top of the pass by racing bike: on the Valtellina side - starting from Mazzo, Tovo or Grosio - or on the Brescia side, from Monno.
The climb from Mazzo.
The climb to the Mortirolo from Mazzo is a classic route starting from Mazzo in Valtellina (552 m asl) that goes up 12,5 km with extremely steep slopes.
The route gets immediately challenging, hairpin bend after hairpin bend. The first 5,5 km are the worst ones, with slopes that reach 18%. The last kilometres are easier, with parts of the route where you can catch your breath.
The average gradient of the slope is above 10% and the maximum gradient is 18%, with a vertical drop of about 1300 m.
On the Valtellina side there are two other climbs to Mortirolo pass: from Grosio the slopes are more moderate and the road more scenic. From Tovo, the gradient of the slope, instead, is of 23% in the final part. This climb has been part of the Stelvio Santini marathon route several times.
The climb from Monno.
The climb to Mortirolo from the Brescia side starts from Monno, near Edolo (1066 m asl) and goes up11.5 km with moderate slopes.
A few short parts are characterized by an around 10% gradient, while the most parts of the climb are around an average 6%, with a long slight slope.