Tiliacher  Joch

Tilianer Joch is an old trading route between what is now Italy and Austria. It also played a role in WW1. It is now designated as an international border crossing mountain bike route, at least on the Austrian side. Some large scale maps show the name Ponzescharte at this location. That is a 400m higher walking path, that also serves as climbing access. This is one of the more exciting border crossings and requires a short push section.

photo page

01.(km00,1390m) START-END NORTH: Obertilliach
02.(km01,1370m) low point crossing stream
03.(km09+1/2,2094m) TOP: Tiliacher Joch
04.(km21+1/2,1040m) START-END SOUTH ALTERNATE: junction wtih SR355 in Osteria alle Alpi
05.(km28,910m) START-END SOUTH: Sankt Stephan (Santo Stefano di Cadore)


From North. A narrow, paved path heads downhill across the valley from Obertilliach. You can make out the pass from the main road, by visually following a powerline up Obertilliacher valley to below a block shaped mountain, the Ponze at 2599m. The powerline then goes to the right of the block shaped mountain. The Tiliacher Joch goes to the left.

The paved path first decends to cross the stream Gailbach. It does so with a few curves to a wooden bridge, passing a cucifix. The path now climbs along along a small mountain stream, intermittently steeply. The surface is smooth crushed, compacted rock/dirt, that drains so well that it is usually dry even it rained cats and dogs the night before. The mountain Ponce intermittently appears between the trees. I is possible to meet a slow moving tractor or car on the path, which carries supplies to a hut. The path passes a high lake with a first building. This is not the (hut) Ponzehuette. Here the trees thin out. Now sharp switchbacks make their way up above treeline towards the Ponzehuette. A very short distance below this second hut a large sign points the way left to the "international border crossing mountain bike route" over the Tiliacher Joch. More switchbacks, this time on a rougher single track follow. You cross a gate, which designates the next section as "Schiebestrecke" (push your bike route), and five minutes later voila the summit. A hiking path following along the top of the range, also leading to the Ponze Scharte (2363m) crosses at the summit. The difference in the views to north and south is striking. To the south are dolomite needles, while to the north the more normally behaved Carniche alps may be hidden in clouds.


From South.
(described downwards). You can see the road come up from the Italian side. But it is not immediately apparent how to get down to it. It is just a few hundred feet. The shortest way is to stay as low as possible in the gap. But then you don't see the road. If you traverse along a faint path to the right you see the road, and also get to it at a slightly farther point. Rolling down, you notice that the Italian road surface is markedly rougher. At the next several junctions I always took the downhill option, even if the other options actually may promise more scenery. This is escpecially true of the first right. Left would lead to the path shown on picture 8 on the picture page. Continuing directly down valley, the route becomes one of those enchanted, intermittently paved paths switching back and forth between meadows, or rolling through dense forest that only exist in the dolomites. There are no vehicles allowed on these forest roads on the Italian side. I have been told by the toursist information center in Obertilliach on the Austrian side, that this actually includes bicycles, but that nobody enforces it. A comfortable lazy descent eventually leads to a whole group of rustic huts and restaurants that are located in a sort of alpine dolomite park. Sharp peaks surround a set of dirt and paved roads with houses loosely spaced in the meadows. If the objective is to descend further it is important to stay left at the paved fork in this park. Although to the right you can reportedly carry your bike back into Austria over another pass too.

It seems like passes in the dolomites often have two parts. The first is the alpine part, followed by a relaxing roll through the forest. Only afterwards comes the second part, another large descent into a deep canyon. This is the case here too. A cracked, heaving, sloughing, innumerable patched up road descends into a crack in the earth, a needle of a rock towering above. The road follows the valle Visdende to its junction with a main road. Turning right here the descent continues intermittently to the town of Campolongo and San Stefano. The church at the main plaza has an interesting mural of some hellish scene from the bible. Turn right to go up paved Kreuzbergpass (pso di Monte Croce di Comelico).




Tilliacher Joch , Kreuzberg Pass , Kartitscher Sattel: Obertilliach > up the north side to Tilliacher Joch > down the south side > Campolongo >  Kreuzbergpass > Innichen (S Candido) > Sillian > Kartitscher Sattel > sp: 66 miles with 7000ft of climbing in 6:5 hours (VDO MC1.0 m3:9.6.21).

The last day with different start and end points on this Extended Tour is on page: Ploeckenpass

During the middle ages a feudal boundary ran along the river in the Lesachtal on the Austrian side. Following a power dispute, the border was moved to the top of the ridge. However Italian speaking people from the south retained grazing rights and brought their cows over this pass to graze on what is now the Austrian side.

When Italy declared war on Austria in 1914, WW1 was also fought here. Rifle comandoes kept Italians at bay against shrapnel and burning granades, but the village of Obertillian was vacated. In order to affect the outcome the poeple of Obertillian vowed to worship and pray and dedicated a new local holiday for June 19 (called Herz Jesu Freitag). The holiday was set up to expire after 20 years, but local authorities have decided to extend the expiration date regularly to this date, which explains why all the stores were closed when I happened to get here.

Obertiliacher Joch

Highest Point:
Northern Approach:

from stream crossing south of Obertiliach (1390m) 8km 704m
Southern Approach:

from Sankt Stephan (910m) 21km 1184m
from Osteri alle Alpi (1040m) 12+1/2km 1054m

View eu_Tiliacher_Joch in a larger map ------

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