Cycling Climb. Gavia Pass


46.3435° N, 10.4846° E

The Gavia Pass; An Italian legend, made famous thanks to its Giro d’Italia battles.

An ancient pass from medieval times, convoys of merchants would cross this pass risking death. It was nicknamed the Pass of Skulls due to the number of victims it would take.

Ready to take on the Gavia Pass? Read on…



1419m 5% 13%

The town of Bormio,  for centuries a trading town and now a gateway to other legendary cycling climbs like the Stelvio Pass.

The history of the Gavia pass is far more than its trading history though, with the Giro d’Italia first featuring the Gavia pass in 1960. Some 28 years passed until the second time where one of the most legendary days in modern cycling occurred. Riders battling in a snow blizzard in shorts and short sleeve vests. Some more prepared with snow goggles and jackets, the stuff of legends, which will never be seen again. 


26KM (for us 25.4!) of joy awaits you. The climb from Bormio is much easier than from Ponte di Legno. That being said there is still plenty of elevation to be gained and the maximum gradient does go upto 13%.

Past Trafoi you become surrounded by trees and an intoxicating smell. You are now firmly in the business end of the climb, with the gradients increasing.

10 glorious hairpin bends set in the trees to enjoy.

Having ridden over Ponte Dell Alpe the landscape starts to change dramatically. Rising above 2000m and even in the height of summer, there is snow on the mountains. Gone are the green pastures and now you are surrounded by the grandeur and epic views. The peaks such as Punta San Mateo at 3678m and Pizo Tresero 3594m 

Chiesetta Alpina al Passo Gavia.

Looking down the valley with the Chiesetta (little church) overseeing all those who pass it.

Monumento ai caduti sul Passo Gavia. A memorial to fallen soldiers.

The battle of San Matteo ( a peak at 3678m). The highest battle in history took place on the Gavia Pass in World War 1.

A battle between Austrian-Hungarian troops and Italian in 1918. where the Austrian-Hungarian set up artillery positions to harras Italian convoys try to get to the front line.

At the summit, the history of the Giro d’Italia dominant. Below is Lago Bianco (white lake) which even during summer was covered in ice and snow. Be prepared for all weathers and conditions.


The Gavia Pass cycling climb from Bormio has a very different feel to riding it from the other side. The gradients are shallower, the distance is less, but this doesn’t mean that it is any less beautiful.

If you are short on time we definitely recommend going up and over and descending to at least the tunnel section past Lago Nero (approx 2km) as that section is spectacular.  Link to the other side of the Gavia Pass below.


This road is only open from May to October and early/late season is not guaranteed.

From Bormio the Gavia Pass has 10 hairpin bends / 10 switchbacks.

There are two ways up the Gavia Pass. From Bormio and from Ponti di Legno.

The Gavia Pass is the 10th highest Alpine pass and the second highest pass in Italy.

Due to its elevation, the weather can be very unpredictable. It may be blue skies and warm temperatures in Bormio but it could easily be snowing at the top. If starting in shorts and short sleeve jersey we recommend arm warmers, a jacket and gloves as an absolute minimum.

At the pass during the summer there is a restaurant serving food and drinks. This is also a hotel and is open early/late. 

By August all of the snow should have melted, but there are no guarantees. Although fresh, we enjoyed the extra visual drama the snow gave.




The Stelvio Pass needs no introduction. A legend, and the most famous cycling climb in the world. There are three directions to summit this beast, with this being from the town of Bormio.




A climb often forgetten when in the Bormio area, but this giant links onto the Stelvio Pass, and absolutely should be on your bucket list.




Starting from Bormio this fantastic climb with a magical set of switchbacks take you to a stunning lake and dam

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