The above photos are of the Passo dello Stelvio climb and were provided by the Sport Hotel Veronello. The Hotel Veronello, near Lake Garda, caters to cyclists and these photographs came from one of the trips they organized for guests.
In the summer of 2006 I climbed the Stelvio with my cycling club, Gruppo 1 of Verona (http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2007/03/looking-back-climbing-famous-stelvio.html). The club had a saying that went along the lines of, "If your feet touch the ground you can't claim you climbed the Stelvio." Therefore, on that trip there wasn't going to be any photography by me on the way up but I did take a few photos about half way down on the descent.
I've arranged these excellent photos, which you can click on to enlarge, in the order of what you would see as you climbed the Stelvio. The Passo dello Stelvio at 2757 m (9,045 feet) is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the Alps. Of course, it is famous with cyclists as epic battles have been fought here in the Giro d'Italia and as a measure of personal achievement.
The climb begins simply enough on a small road out of Prato. Then, there is a pretty stretch with a cascading river on your right. Soon you come to the first "tornante" (switchback) sign, numbered 47. You climb through a wooded area before coming out into the exposed side of the mountain. On the opposite side is a beautiful glacier. Once you exit the woods and are on the exposed section of road you can see all the switchbacks leading to the top. It's a daunting sight. I decided it was best to keep my eyes on the road immediately ahead. Looking all the way up....well, it just seemed it would be impossible to get to the top. Keep in mind that this is a a climb of 15.1 miles (24,3 km) with an average gradient percentage is 7.4 %.
To all my friends that I tried to come to ride with me: See what you missed?! I could be persuaded to go back though.