The Fedaia pass from Caprile

 In Altimetries

The Fedaia Pass faced by the hardest side, in Veneto region, from Caprile. A climb that starts relatively softly, only to get harder to the end. Meanwhile, the mind runs to the landscape and history …


Summary table
Length 12,68 km
Elevation gain 1043 m
Elevation loss 6 m
Min elevation 1014 m
Max elevation 2051 m
Average gradient 8,2%
Max slope 18%


There are places that have entered the legend for different reasons. One of these is certainly the Fedaia pass. Here, particularly on the Marmolada glacier, which can be reached from the pass, the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies faced each other for almost three years during the Grande Guerra (The Great War, as we call the First World War), practically living in tunnels dug in the ice (as evidence of that period, there is  the Museum of Great War). Here in the 1950s a dam was built at an altitude of 2000 meters for the production of hydroelectric energy and immediately after a specialized laboratory for the study of cosmic rays, which could take advantage of the large amount of electricity produced. Along this climb, near Malga Ciapela, the famous Marmolada cableway starts, which reaches an altitude of 3265 m. An experience for those who do not have particular problems with height!

In the world of cycling this climb is linked to one of the most beautiful achievements in the history of Giro d’Italia. That of Marco Pantani in 1998. The Pirate shot on the straight of Malga Ciapela together with a great Guerini, leaving the pink jersey Zuelle almost planted on the pedals watching them go away with an unreal lightness. The two men engaged in a very long escape facing, in addition to Fedaia, also the Sella pass and arriving at the finish line in Selva di Val Gardena. Gerini achieved the stage victory and the Pirate the pink jersey and 4 minutes conquered on Zuelle!


inizio passo fedaia

The climb to Fedaia pass begins

The description. I don’t know if this is the hardest climb in the Dolomites, but it is certainly the most difficult for me. I have faced it several times and each time I have get out of it literally destroyed. The only ascent comparable to this in my area (the Marche region) is Laminox, but it does not, in my opinion, reach this degree of difficulty. The ascent to Passo Fedaia is characterized by a great complexity that makes it perhaps unique in these parts. The first 5 kilometers, up to the beautiful village of Sottoguda, are easy, with only a few peaks of 10% at the beginning.


At Sottoguda begins the splendid and spectacular Serrai gorge, with its rocky walls hundreds of meters high which almost touch each other. At the bottom the Pettorina stream and a beautiful small toll road, very pleasant to be traveled by bike, when not too crowded. The alternative is the SP641 with its gallery. The stretch of the Serrai, a couple of kilometers long, begins to present important slopes, but it is on their way out, at Malga Ciapela, that the real climb begins.


Coming to the village of Sottoguda


The entrance of Serrai di Sottoguda


The road with the stream at Serrai

From Malga Ciapela to the Capanna Bill refuge there are almost 3 kilometers of straight stretch with an average gradient close to 12%. The maximum slope is 18%. There is not much more to say. The road is all in front of you and looks you in the face. Try to turn your attention to the mountains at the top, or to the next meter of road, head-down, so as not to be struck by the total vision of the straight and by the enormity of the effort it will take to climb it. The bike does not seem to want to go on, as if it were braked, but in the end we reach the first bend, at Capanna Bill.

fedaia rettilineo malga ciapela

The terrible straight of Malga Ciapela

Fedaia capanna bill

The hairpin bends at the Capanna Bill refuge begin

“Here begins the ascent”. These words, often heard by local cyclists, hit you like a hammer blow, because you understand that it is absolutely not over. We still have two and a half kilometers with a double-digit slope, with another 18% peak. The hairpin bends, however, help here, at least psychologically, and the landscape also becomes more spectacular. Turning back at the last bends we perceive the greatness of the valley and the road built to travel it, in addition to the pride for the achievements we have performed.

fedaia primi tornanti

The first hairpin bends of Fedaia

fedaia primi tornanti

The first hairpin bends of Fedaia seen from above

fedaia ultime rampe

The last ramps of Fedaia

ultimo tratto passo fedaia

The last demanding stretch of the Fedaia

fedaia panorama veneto

The Dolomites of Belluno from the last ramps of Fedaia

Suddenly we reach the pass, with the Fedaia refuge on the left. The ritual photo, a small tunnel and the wonderful view of the lake and the mountains of Trentino opens wide in front of us, as if the curtain of a theater were opening. Marmolada stands in all its splendor and we admire it for long moments, while the multitude of tourists, transported here by motor vehicles, prepare for the walk, not being able to fully enjoy the sensation of conquest that instead fills us, arrived with our strengths, our hearts and our tenacity.


passo fedaia

Coming to the Fedaia pass

marmolada da passo fedaia

Marmolada after the Fedaia pass

Fedaia lago

The lake of Fedaia

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