This is a fantastic little known climb to a high alpine dam in Piemonte, Italy. It’s a steep (I do mean steep!), narrow little road that starts next to the beginning of the road to the legendary Colle del Nivolet.
It’s easy to miss the start, don’t expect a sign (see map at bottom). It’s tough immediately with 6 quick, ferocious hairpins. There are a few tiny hamlets early on. How do people get up this in winter? About half way up the route is signed as dangerous, private, no cars without authorisation. Great!
This reminded me of Lac Cap de Long – my favourite climb in the Pyrénees.
The entire road is paved. I’d describe it as “adequate” for a road bike. Fine (but tighten your brakes).
Perhaps halfway the dam comes into view. It was hazy, and this photo isn’t great, but at that exact moment I knew this was going to be fun. The dam was way up there!
The valley is sort of a three-sided amphi-theatre. In France this would be called a cirque. The last few kilometres hairpin up the left side. It’s spectacular.
After this great stretch of hairpins, I thought I was almost there. But as I came over a ledge I saw the dam was still much higher.
The road now snakes up the right side, heading through a couple of small tunnels. And finally a bunch of quick hairpins before reaching the top of the dam.
It was forbidden to walk across the dam. Damn. But there is a gravel road along the right side of the lake. It leads to a hiking trail that climbs out of the cirque to a rifugio. I rode a couple hundred metres just for fun and the views.
Note, the sign in photo below, the dam (diga) and lake is also called Telessio.
Here’s a 3D video of the ride. No making fun of my average speed!
This was a great surprise, as great as I’d hoped. Challenging, remote, and spectacular. Too much fun. I highly recommend it to anyone that comes to this area to ride Colle del Nivolet. (I had planned to descend and ride up Nivolet but black clouds came rolling in and I just made it down as it started to rain).
Looks great indeed! Added to the list.
I’m cautiously writing down some ideas for next year, would like to go back to the Nivolet if it’s in any way nearby the traject, might do this one along with it!
Is the Nivolet still open? Can’t be long anymore now…
Nivolet was warm enough for shorts and short-sleeves today. 🙂
I just found out. I can feel a drool-worthy blog post coming!
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It looks awsome Will.
Now I see what I ve missed by not reaching the dam in august when heavy rain forced me to descend. Reason enough to go back one day.
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I can confirm the brilliance of this climb to Teleccio which I did yesterday having done Nivolet the day before. As you climb, the beauty increases along with the steepness. It really does not relent until your wheels are on the top of the dam! An awesome ride in such a beautiful environment.
One more for the list. Thanks.
If anyone is looking for something even more challenging and crazy than Teleccio, look no further than the Rifugio Barbara Lowrie. It is located in the Pellice valley, so it is in Piemonte as well. It is harder than Teleccio, and I can guarantee this because I live nearby and I climbed it multiple times (I climbed the Teleccio only once, immediately after climbing the Nivolet from Locana, and yes it was difficult, but not the monster I expected).
With a properly equipped gravel bike, you can go on after the Rifugio Barbara for few km, reaching the Col Barant at 2373m (Rifugio Barbara is at 1750m). From Col Barant you can descend to Rifugio Willy Jervis, and close the loop returning to Bobbio Pellice. I usually do the loop with a MTB, but I suppose that with a gravel bike equipped with at least 40 mm tires it’s doable (some very rough segments for gravel bikes).
In the same area, I also strongly recommend Meire Durandini (also known as Pion da Charm, or Pian d’la Ciarma) and Pian del Re. They are both in the Po valley (during the week, before June or after August, there is almost nobody in the places I mentioned).
Small tip: look out for the raspberry bushes shortly after the start of the final steep 3km section, just above the hairpin at 1500m. Good fuel for the final push! There are also several taps to fill up water in the first third of the climb – the last one I think was at Valsoani, about 4km from Rosone, so you can save a few grams on the first bit. Another great climb, thanks for scoping it out for us all 🙂