Jerry’s Tour of the Dolomites and Central Alps 2003 – Day Eleven

Tschiertschen — Durannapass — Küblis — Davos — Flüelapass — Zernez — Ofenpass — Sta. Maria im Müstair (129 km, 3531 m up, 16-41° C)


I had a fine breakfast with a lovely view from the restaurant in Tschiertschen. Other than me there was only an older French couple (walkers) staying there for the night. We wished each other a good day and went away the same way down in the direction of Molinis (deep in the valley leading up to Arosa). This road is not marked as surfaced on any map I know of, but is fine tarmac apart from four five-meter stretches of gravel. Molinis is 300 m below Tschiertschen and it is equally long up the other side of the valley to St. Peter and Peist, though the road is a bit steeper up there, but wider and even better.


I could look back and see the restaurant from where I had departed along the nice road up to Langwies. At Langwies I forgot what I had read about where to take off to get up to the Durannapass (in the wonderful book by Fred Wright on Rough-Stuff Cycling in the alps available from OCD UK). I soon understood which way to go but asked anyway to be sure. There is a little road going up between the houses in Langwies which is fine asphalt and rather steep at first and that is the one to take. It comes to a junction where the road is gravel (and continues by going right, as one would think). It is a bit difficult in the woods with not so good gravel an somewhat steep, but soon it gets better again and there is even some tarmac again. When you reach Strassberg, you will understand that you should go straight ahead (slightly to the right through the houses there) and the road is just about cyclable up to the last house. Then you will have to lead the cycle for the most time to the top (unless you have a mountainbike). You follow a grassy jeep-track, but one could sometimes cycle a bit on the grassy meadow with a road bike even, as it is pretty flat and smooth, almost like in a garden.


Very nice weather and many people were out doing farming work up here (at Strassberg). The highest point on the jeep-track over the pass goes via a place at 2121 m close by the real pass (?) where a sign without any name on it lay on the ground. You there see the next sign along the track, which announces the Durannapass at 2117 m. When you come up to the 2121 m point, you see the landscape and mountains across to the other side (the highest point you can see in the second photo might be the Madrisahorn (2826m)).

Just a bit below the edge of the green landscape that you can see in the second photo you find the first farm on that side and here a harsh gravel road starts. I managed to cycle all the way down there very slowly, but it was not being too nice to my road bike (but as for most time it worked out well). When you come down to the next farm, the road improves, but it never really gets very good and if it might get a bit better later it also gets steeper. I thought I would meet tarmac before Conters at just over 1000 meters. So it was a long gravel road down that side and I got really tired by the time I came down at Küblis (814m) where it was pretty hot. Flüelapass

The road up via Klosters to Davos is also a rather busy road. It looks nice around Klosters, but the town itself looks very boring with modern bank buildings and such. At Davos it was time for a late lunch break. The weather was not the best any longer and it was rather windy. I soon went up the lonely road to the Flüelapass (not many buildings along the road, just a few farms). The weather did not get worse and I enjoyed the steady climb. The pass is really grey (as some others aslo have noted) – maybe that is where the name (of the region) Graubünden comes from … . There were some motorcyclists and other tourists at the top of the pass (2383m). This is the highest of the three parallel passes going from the north to the Engadin valley. Looking at the map, you are surrounded in all directions down in Susch (1412m) with mountains over 3000 meters high with only some valleys to escape through and only one way to go to avoid any pass (down to Landeck). (Well, the Malojapass in the other direction is not much of a pass coming from this direction.)


My plan now was to go over the Ofenpass down to Sta. Maria, a very small part of Switzerland only connected via this road over the Ofenpass. even though I had made a lot of research beforehand I had not noticed that there is a rather big dip on this road and I thought it curious that I so quickly raised to rather high levels at Ova Spin (1879m). There the road goes down around 300 meters to the junction where one could go over to Livigno in Italy. Then you have to start over again on a very slowly raising road to the Ofenpass which goes through a very old national park and you can see that the somewhat barren landscape has been very untouched (it is rather special and came across as a very bleak area with many pine trees and a big river (with many fallen trees in it)).

At the Ofenpass (2149m), I talked with some French (I believe) people. The man was also out cycling some of the days during their vacation and he also, like me, planned to get over the Grossglocknerstrasse in Austria (one of the few mountain roads built explicitly with a mind to tourists and beautiful views along the road in the 30ies). Some nice fast road at first down serpentines, where I went at the same speed down as the French family and they gave me some candies on the way down there. The weather soon turned really bad down after the serpentines at Tschierv and all my hopes of possibly getting up a gravel road to the Döss Radond (pass) and Val Mora, that I was near a couple of days earlier, where all gone now. I just had to find a place to stay for the night in Sta. Maria (the rain was pouring down heavily and I was a bit cold). The youth hostel in town came to my rescue, even though it was unclear if there was space for me at first. Quite a lot of people there. I also did not have a youth hostel pass, but it was okay. The price was not much cheaper than any other place I had stayed over at and a crazy (French I believe) tourist turned away when he could not get a better price. I also had to visit one of the not so cheap restaurants in the town (they have some really expensive ones and the others are a bit overpriced). The stay was okay even though I managed not to return to my bed before they had turned of all the lights.

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