aka Pso di Rombo

Several passes radiate out from the Meran area. All of them are scenically magnificent. But two of them have an especially high cult status with cyclists, first the even higher 2757m Stilfser Joch (pso Stelvio), and second this pass.

From below it's a series of switchbacks that seem drawn with ruler on a mountain face. Once on top of this series of z's, the road stays long enough above treeline, to take in several viewsheds of sharp glaciated peaks. Several tunnels act as transition points between viewsheds. Also, crossing this pass means a change in environment and climate, Italy to Austria, as well as the gentler mediterranean influence to the colder, wetter Atlantic climate. All this and more makes this a pass with a sort of cult status with cyclists.

01.(00.0km,340m) START-END SOUTH: Meran, pedestrian section in center
02.(20.0km,676m) START-END SOUTH ALTERNATE: Sankt Leonard, jct with Via Passo Giovo
03.(28.0km,1203m) Moso im Pasaiertal
04.(48.7km,2509m) TOP: Timmelsjoch
05.(55.7km,2120m) Hochgurgl
06.(71.5km,1352m) Soelden
07.(85.0km,1175m) Laengenfeld
08.(94.5km,1020m) Umhausen
09.(102.0km,821m) Oetz
10.(109.0km,705m) Oetz - Bahnhof and jct with bike path following Inn.


From South. The road starts climbing from Meran. A bike path leads up the Passaiertal to St Leonard. It starts at the Meran downtown promenade area, then crosses the paved road up the same valley. This totally separate bike path stays close to the river, while the road sweeps up high to collect various villages. Once you are on the bike path it is not exactly easy to rejoin the road. The bike path is a very pleasant ride, crossing over the river in narrow, adventurous bridge constructions, while the main road can have heavy tourist traffic. The bike path is however largely unpaved, with one or two graveled sections, that are actually worthy of a mountain bike tire.


From St Leonard the road climbs steeply to Mosa. What may at first appear as the pass road ahead is really the val di Plan, with its route up the Meraner Hoehenweg and the Eisjoechle. The pass road switches back and forth to the north (right), gradually dwarfing the rocket ship like church tower of Moso below, while the snow covered peaks above come a bit closer. This first set of switchbacks contains a few short, unlit tunnels. Then a traverse along the valley, gives some time to relax and study the next series of switchbacks ahead, which have an intimidating look, a whole series of z's on a foreshortened cliff face. A small bridge that seems glued to the mountain, with houses apparently suspended next to the cliff below make an interesting motif. These switchbacks seem to take forever and slowly but surely deliver the perfect vantage points on sharp almost-horns like the Seeverspitze (3267m) and the Botzer to the north (3260m). After this long workout, a series of several tunnels begins over the top. The first one is the longest, about half a km. It is lit with lights blinking on the floor. The viewshed changes to the north and takes in a whole new set of mountains. When the pass summit comes into sight, there may be clouds bubbling up from the Austrian side, even if it's been clear so far. This is a significant weather divide. The summit is relatively unspoiled, as passes in the alps go, no hotels, no big parking lots, just a small souvenir shop and a sign saying "good bye Alto Adige" in several languages other than English.


From North. (described downwards) It's soon apparent that the climate is harsher on this side. There is more karst topography. A high valley, comprised of straight geometrical shapes, descends uniformly. The road still carves through some snowbanks in the beginning of July. The bike rolls nicely. It is not so steep that you have to worry about the brakepads burning out, even on a fully loaded bike. As a matter of fact, as the road seems to head straight for another white triangle in the sky, and the road starts climbing again substantially. It tops out a second time at a toll building. This is the town of Hochgurgl, the highest village in Austria that is inhabited year round. Motorized vehicles have to pay a toll here if they want to proceed further down into Austria. Bicycles are free. Once the road descends into the Gurgl Valley, it switches back north and heads for a long gallery style tunnel, that was visible from the climb on the descent. Then the road reaches the valley floor, which is now called the Oetz Valley. Gentle pedaling will speed the bike through overbuilt ski towns with huge many-star hotels, lifts wherever the eye may wander, but thankfully also a few smaller breakfast pensions, devoid of the standard solarium, sauna and whatever. Further downvalley you can pick up the bike path (Oetztal mtbweg). It is largely unpaved.

A Day on a Tour:

Timmelsjoch: Sankt Leonard > Timmelsjoch > Soelden: 37 miles with 6300ft of climbing in 5 hours (VDO MC1.0 m3:9.7.3).
Timmelsjoch (summary)
aka pso di Rombo

Highest Point:
Southern Approach:

from Meran (340m)

from S Leonardo (676m) 1833m 28.7km

Western Approach:

from Oetz Bahnhof (705m)

from Oetz (821m) 1688m 53.3km ~250m
from Soelden (1352m) 1157m 22.8km ~250m

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