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).