La Tornantissima: This hairpin-heavy downhill is a true test of skill

If you like a challenge beneath your rubber, then this technical natural trail will fulfil your desires

For advanced riders that want to explore their limits and take their riding to the next level, the Tornantissima – the hairpin of hairpins – is the ultimate choice. Navigating larch trees, Alpine meadows, cute mountain huts and glades with jaw-dropping views, this descent off Monte Varadega has more vertical metres than any other downhill in Valtellina (1,852 metres!). Considering the technical nature and gradients, it’s a popular playground for experienced mountain bikers. And how to reach the start? Well, that involves riding up the legendary Mortirolo – one of the most famous road climbs in cycling.

Begin by heading out of Grosio to start the 16.3 km climb to the Passo del Mortirolo, clocking off 1,204 metres of altitude in approximately two hours. The climb continues even once you’ve reached the top of the pass, beginning with another 30 minutes on a paved road until Alpe Varadega (signposted step 1, 1945 metres) before an old, bumpy military road takes the difficulty up a notch with steep ramps and some hairpins. Follow this until 2,345 metres, where the terrain gets rockier and you may have to get off your bike at times, but keep focused on your target elevation of 2,500 metres (signposted step 2), a point that’s just below the Cima Varadega where you can check out some old military fortifications.
From here, turn the bike to face the valley and get ready for a grin-inducing 10.8 km and a vertical drop of 1,852 metres. Almost equally as challenging as the way up, the first section drops to the junction for the Rifugio Cros dell’Alp down a series of tight, rocky turns that demand full concentration. Entering the trees, the super twisty trail is comparatively smoother, but still techy under your tyres and so full of corners that seem never-ending. Next up is Baiton (signposted step 3, 1450 metres), and a brief stretch on a gravel track before you take a right turn onto the mule track that leads you down to the centre of Grosio.

32 Km
5-6 h
Starting point
End point
Monte Varadega
summer, autumn
Start location: 658 m
Destination: 2.500 m
Climbing: 1.860 m
Climb: 23,8 km
Descent: 10,8 km
Flat: 0 km
Total distance: 34,6 km
Ave. gradient: 8%
Max. gradient: 15%

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