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Cason di Lanza (pso di)

Highest Point:
1552m
Eastern Approach:     drop
from Pontebba (561m) 991m 15+1/2km  
from Cason di Lanza (1100) 452m 5km  
Western Approach:      
from Paularo (640m) 912m 15+1/2km ~160m
from bridge over Rio Lanza (971m) 581m 6km  
photo page      
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View eu_Cason_di_Lanza in a larger map
   
Crossing this pass was almost a kind of religious experience for me. The reason is this: In spite of all their scenic splendor, civil engineering marvels and tasteful picturesqueness, there is one quality that few paved passes in the alps possess during July and August, and that is peace, quiet and a relative absence of traffic. This pass has all that and more. This road is so narrow, many bike paths are wider. For km after km it is narrow strip of smooth asphalt that seems glued to the mountainside on one side. On the other side a banister separates you from dropoffs of varying heights. The state of this banister is testimony to the fact that rocks come down and roll across it rather commonly (see picture page). There are a few local vehicles that cross this road. The drivers know what to expect. It is extremely steep in places, without the usual warning signs that such a spot is coming up. Countless small bridges cross what can be raging torrents, one leading by a waterfall so close, you can touch it as you ride by. There are many rough sections with large rocks on the road, including where the road surface is sloughing away, and drainage crates that are wide enough to swallow a skinny tire. But all these can be easily circumnavigated with a little care.


Approaches

From East.  From Pontebba there is no sign that points to passo del Cason di Lanza. Instead you follow signs to Studena Bassa on the left side of the river Pontebba, when leaving town. The village is soon reached and the mountains ahead do not really look that big. The small strip of asphalt enters forest. When crossing to the right side of the river an obvious pass ahead looks like today's destination. Instead the road starts climbing the hillside in extremely steep switchbacks in the forest. A clearing is reached and the narrow strip climbs up between two  pairs of buildings that almost seem to touch the road. Soon  the actual pass becomes visible, while to the south a horn like mountain seems to reach above the surrounding horizon. The top is still forested and there is a mountain hut that does dispense water, food, lodging and other things (obviousely only when it's open). I spoke with a local cycling couple there who told me of their route, which included a portage up from the Austrian side from Rattendorf. 

From West. (described downwards). It is not so much the far views that make this pass so interesting, but the roughness of the immediate surroundings. A sharp downgrade leads by a very photogenic waterfall. Another one-buiding settlement with a small barking dog marks the turnoff to Strangleralm, which is another unpaved way to descend into Austria. The pass road negotiates a few scenic switchbacks in a valley meadow and starts climbing to a second smaller summit. The foliage here seems to be even denser as the road makes itself through a tunnel of green, traversing above a deep green slot in the mountains. Soon a clearing shows the descend into the town of Paulero. The road stays as narrow and curvy until the final bend into town.

Extended Tour:
 
(<Vrsic Pass, Pso di Fusine|Forcella di Lius>)
Pso Cason di Lanza , Forcella di Lius: Pontebba > Pso Cason di Lanza > Paulero > Forcella di Lius > Palluzza > Timau: 35 miles with 6100ft of climbing in 4:5 hours (VDO MC1.0 m3:9.6.17)
Notes: includes about 3 miles trying to find an open alimentari on a Wednesday afternoon, which is not possible here. 

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