The Mortirolo is considered the toughest mountain one can climb in Italy and many professional cyclists consider it to be the most difficult mountain of the three big tours. Lucho Herrera (1991) called the Mortirolo the "Queen's Climb of Europe" and Lance Armstrong called it the most difficult climb he had ever ridden.
You can climb the Mortirolo in three different ways. From the west side you can start via Sondrio as well as Mazzo. After about ten kilometers both routes come together and you take the same road (SP81) for the last kilometers to the top. From the east side you can climb from Monno or start from the lower Edolo.
Often the Mortirolo is visited from Bormio, one of the most famous cycling spots, because from here you can climb the big Italian three: the Passo dello Stelvio, the Passo Gavia and the Mortirolo (or Passo della Foppa). These last two can also be combined; either you start south and take the difficult side of the Mortirolo and then climb the already more difficult north side of the Passo Gavia. Or you can first climb the Passo Gavia via Santa Caterina di Valfurva and then take the easier eastern side of the Mortirolo via Monno. Good for a wonderful day of cycling just over 100 kilometers.
We're heading south for Tirano. After 22 kilometers you reach the start of the climb near Grosio. About 6 kilometers further you can start from Mazzo.
The climb via Mazzo is definitely the most difficult. The "easy" first and last part of the climb are continuously at 10%. In between you have to overcome 6 kilometers at an average of 12.4%, with strips up to 18%.
Down in Mazzo you have two options to start the climb. Normally you take the Via Orti, near the church. This way you'll soon reach the Strada del Mortirolo. Immediately you get an impression of what awaits you for the next hour and a half (the average climbing time on Climbbybike is 1h35min). A narrow steep road between the trees with hairpin bends. There are no less than 30 "tornante" (hairpin bends) waiting for you.
The climb is getting harder and harder. Once in a while you get a glimpse of the valley. Near the Casa dell'Acqua (terms) the climb even opens completely and you can see the difference in height that you already conquered. After a left-right hairpin combination you'll suddenly reach wrath 11. Take a good look off the road, because in front of you hangs the statue of Marco Pantani on the fence wall. You are now 1450 meters high and hopefully this will inspire you to cover the last difficult kilometer of this climb. A bit further on, at 1557 meters in the meantime, you'll reach the SP81 from Grosio.
From here it's another three kilometers to the top and the toughest is now conquered. Since you already got that far, the rest of the climb is still a piece of cake. First you stay between the trees, but towards the top the climb becomes more open. No reward however on the not very meaningful summit. After such a climb you expect a bit more, although such places are preferably kept as natural as possible. The exact location of the summit is a bit unclear, because there are no less than three indications. So keep an eye on your Strava when you want to set a time! But maybe just reaching the summit was more than enough 😉.