Jerry’s Tour of the Alps 2011 – Monday July 18th

Deutscher Peter — Feistritz — Wurzenpass/Korensko Sedlo — Trevisio — Passo del Cason di Lanza (116.7 km, 2375m, max 33% ?, 11-25°C)

Wurzenpass/Korensko Sedlo

This day was the day with the worst weather of the remaining days. It started fine without rain, but cloudy. I had thought about taking the train a bit further back west, but I did not gain any time on it, so I just started out cycling to the corner between Slovenia, Austria and Italy along the southernmost road in Austria. I stopped once at a grocery for a sandwich and coca-cola – maybe in Maria Elend (509m), but cannot remember for sure. At Fürnitz I found a short-cut road based on vague memories from looking at maps (508m).

I was soon at the turn-off for Slovenia via Wurzenpass/Korensko Sedlo (1073m), a road choice I had not totally made clear to myself whether I should use or not, but thought it would be as good to get over on this way to escape the relatively boring road directly to Tarvisio/Tarvis (701m) (or so I thought). I had some thought about possibly going over the Naßfeldpaß/Passo di Pramollo/Pas dal Pramuel (1531m) also and possibly do a BIG climb or two on the Austria side, but I just wanted out of Austria now and hoped for better weather down in Italy. Just after a few hundred metres up the Wurzenpass it started to rain. I hoped it would not last for long and decided to continue despite that it looked better inside Austria actually.

Wurzenpass/Korensko Sedlo bremsweg

I stopped for a photo of the “bremsweg”, at the end of the long very steep ramp up to Wurzenpass. This is not so common, but it is a stretch were lorries can continue up if their brakes does not help them in time for the curve. Guess I wanted to see how that ramp felt from this side as I only had descended here before (the asphalt road, that is). The ramp is indeed a hard one, but luckily it is not endlessly long, so no real problem. The road is rather funny though, since it then becomes flat and even descends before it again raises with a ramp almost as steep, but shorter before the pass. I guess maximum steepness on the first ramp might be up to 20% (it is usually said to be 18%, but I guess that is on average).

I was in no luck here. It only rained more and more and only briefly lightened up at the pass, where I had two photos and continued braking my way down the road into Slovenia. I took off at once in Podkoren where the rain was quite heavy. I got to the little centre of the village and stopped by the hotel there as I saw no other restaurant. I went in and noticed they had steeper prices than in either Austria or Italy (which is uncommon for Slovenia), but since I was rather wet by this time and needed a lunch, I ordered some gnocchi. I sat there for some time before I decided it was perhaps stopping to rain and went outside. Talked with an English couple for a while and then started out toward Italy, when it right away started to rain again and more and more heavily the closer I got to the Italian border. I just had to stop at the next place, but it was some distance away from here in the open fields. It says Valico di Fusine (853m) on maps and it is a pass, but that is not what ‘Valico’ happens to refer to here, but rather to the border. The actual pass is also a few hundred metres inside Slovenia. I stopped outside a worn café by the roadside. It was not open, but I just had to take cover. I waited for an hour and then the café opened and I moved inside and got a coffee and waited nearly another hour. It just rained, rained, rained and heavily all the time.

Passo del Cason di Lanza/Lanzenpaß

Eventually I got on my way slowly down to Tarvisio/Tarvis (701m), where the café I had stopped at another time was closed (closed down?). I continued out, but stopped by a funny grocery (well, the lady there was funny). I just wanted a coca-cola and maybe something else and also needed a new soap. I got a soap and coca-cola after some discussion. She was very nice, but seems like maybe she was not so used to customers … odd, but nice with unusual shops. Clearly I was no longer in Austria. Here it was almost dry as I remember it. Then I continued up to Sella di Camporosso/Saifnitzer Sattel (816m).

It started to rain briefly again, but mostly it was no more rain down to Pontebba (561m), but I regretted not having gone over Naßfeldpaß/Passo di Pramollo as it would likely have been much faster despite the harder climb there. Now it was after 17, but I just continued up the next pass as I better get at least one real pass climb done this day, I thought. I went up from the east to Passo del Cason di Lanza/Lanzenpaß (1557m) that I climbed from the other side on my first trip down in the Alps in 2000. At that time this east side of the pass was not asphalted more than at the start from the pass and the last flat stretch down to Pontebba. And it was the worst passage that time with heavy rain, falling twice as I got stuck with the front wheel in the drainage gullies.

Passo del Cason di Lanza/Lanzenpaß

This time the road was asphalted and it looked nice and relatively newly asphalted, but it had been damaged here and there and overrun by landslides now and then. But basically it was all fine asphalt all the way to the top now. This road will not be considered good by anyone driving down and motor vehicles going either way as it has some problematic places where the road surface has made steps on the ground (so to speak). In my mind this road on the easier side is the road most prone to landslides in all of the Alps – probably even more than the famous Elva road to the Sampeyre pass in Piemonte (which is more prone to rock falls than landslides).

This climb to Passo del Cason di Lanza was not much easier on the east side than on the west, which is known to be a real hard one. It is quite steep when it starts to get steep, but is also irregular. I was a bit surprised by how hard it was, even though it does not have a very high rating at, it still feels not much less hard than something like Kitzbüheler horn which has almost the double hardness rating, but so much depend on circumstances and expectations, I may add. Just as I thought that there would be no more rain now and was closing in on the pass, it started to rain again. Thankfully I had no rain on the steepest parts. At the pass itself I had wanted to take some photos, but you can see on the last ones here just how lucky I was (I only used my iPhone as there was no point in taking a better photo here now).

Passo del Cason di Lanza/Lanzenpaß

It was cold up here and I think the place at the pass was closed, but do not know for sure. In any case I thought it was a bad idea staying at the top, so went down and was prepared to stop at the first possible place along the road, which I did. After a long section, with the steepest part on the west side with myriads of drainage gullies that one could get trapped in – they look like the openings are so narrow that a wheel cannot get stuck, which was why I was falling two times here in 2000 (on the east side near the top), but also because there were big stones there which I thought I had hit instead at first. So take my advice and cross them carefully diagonally! Of course chances are not very big you will get stuck as one normally would cross them slightly non-straight anyway, but I wouldn't want to get stuck in good speed. (In 2000 I was going very slowly, so I had not much damage in the fall and thanks to the helmet.)

There was a simple guesthouse at the end, where they had no guests and I stopped as it was rainy like hell again and I was all soaked. The people were fine. I had a shower and got some food to eat. The lodging was very simple, but it was all right with me. In the morning I realised I had no cash left with me. More about this on the next page!

Passo del Cason di Lanza/Lanzenpaß