Colle Fauniera

aka Colle dei Morti

I think this pass is on a lot of favorites lists and it's easy to see why. It is a fairly rough and very narrow curvy road in most place. It stays above treeline for a long time. I was very lucky when I crossed it. Snow still closed the top. But with a mountain bike and a few short portages you could get over it. The option profiled here connects the Valle Stura Valley with the Valle Grana. But there is also an option to connect to the Valle Maira over a different pass. Since all these valleys drain to the east, the ends are easy to connect and this makes for a perfect day loop ride. Judging from all the riders I saw on a Saturday, I think that most people do the loop in the opposite direction as I describe it. My map showed the name Colle Valcavera at this location, which is another nearby pass.

 

01.(00.0km,699m) START-END SOUTH: start of Stura Valle bike route, in Roccaspavera, west of Borgo San Dalmazzo
02.(13.1km,777m) Demonte
03.(22.5km,1320m) San Giacomo
04.(35.4km,2378m) road to left goes over another pass to Maromora
05.(37.2km,2481m) TOP: Colle Fauniera
06.(45.4km,1742m) Santuario San Magno
07.(51.7km,1104m) Campomolino
08.(58.6km,817m) START-END NORTH: Pradleves
09.(62.5km,725m) Monterosso Grana
10.(66.8km,642m) Valgrana
11.(71.7km,593m) START-END NORTH ALT: Caraglio

Approaches

From South. The turnoff in Demonte says "San Giacomo" and often has a "chiuso" sign. But people in town riding bicycles assured me this doesn't mean much. The road climbs through a few small settlements in the valley, grouped around church towers.

Soon past S Giacomo the road becomes much narrower. But the pavement still remains impeccably smooth. While so far the valley was lined with luxuriant vegetation, you can now see a bare, loaf shaped mountain ahead. Then to the left two mountains, shaped like horns, appear. But the narrow strip of asphalt, already fairly far above tree line, turns to the right of these monuments and heads up a gentler drainage, filled with big boulders and alpine grasses. What looks like an obvious pass ahead turns out to be only the junction between this pass and another one further west,  that was still completely snowed in, on the 2nd of June when I rode this. It doesn't look like any of these roads are cleared of snow. They are just left as they are, until nature melts whatever it can melt. The road turns to the east, and gently heads for a gap, while far views open up to the south and west. The road summits in a turn and the monument of Pantani on his bicycle with a tormented gaze appears at the last second. The inscription "Col Cuneo" further confuses the name of this location.

Colle Fauniera, summit

From North. (described downwards) While the southern approach was completely clear, clouds were drifting up the Grana Valley. This approach had far more traffic, bicycles and also a few motorcycles and cars. The road surface is quite a bit rougher too. This would explain why the upward bound cycling traffic was heavier on this side. They want to take advantage of the faster descent on the south side. The road widens past Castelmango, after it passes a collapsing medieval village. Soon you are speeding along in a green gorge on a road of regular width, heading straight down the Grana Valley.

 Colle Fauniera

Colle Fauniera


Dayride
with this point as highest summit:

Colle Fauniera/Colle dei Morti:
Demonte > S. Giacomo > Colle Fauniera/Colle dei Morti > Castelmango > down Grana Valley > Valgrana > Caraglio > Cervesca > Borgo S. Dalmazzo > sp: 60.3miles with 5670ft ft of climbing in 5:57hrs (VDO MC1.0 m4:12.6.2).
Notes: includes a shopping trip and a few extra miles around Borgo S Dalmazzo

The last pass ride with different start and endpoints on this Extended Tour is: Col du Tende


History

The name "dei Morti" derives from a battle the Franco-Hispanic and Piedmont in a nearby valley.

Cycling: This pass was climbed twice in the Giro d'Italia race, even though it was planned to be climbed another time. In 1999 the stage Bra - Borgo San Dalmazzo Bergamo was won by Paolo Savoldelli. The in 2004 deceased Italian Marco Pantani won the pink jersey on that day. Fauniera/ dei Morti was also on the route of the 2001 stage Imperia - Santuario de Sant Anna di Vinadio. It would have been the largest climb on the tour, but the riders went on strike because of a drug raid the night before.

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