|Lettomanopello: the most favoured route to the Blockhaus.|
Height Gain: 1,961m
Average Gradient: 7.3%
Maximum Gradient: 9.4%
Another great Italian climb (though not included in the Giro d’ Italia as often as many of its northern counterparts), is Blockhaus. 180 kilometres east of Rome, in the Della Majella National Park, the mountain is part of the long Apennine chain that covers 1,400 kilometres from Savona in the country’s northwest to Reggio di Calabria in the south. Literally meaning “stone house” in German, Blockhaus got its name from a tiny garrison built during the mid-19th century to help control the increasing lawlessness in the Abruzzo Hills.
|An unexpected interruption along the way.|
The 28 kilometre ride, from Lettomanopello, is the most difficult of the three routes up to the mountain’s 2,142 metre summit. Long and steep, it wastes little time settling into its regular 7-9% gradient for most of the journey to the top.
The overpowering terrain of Blockhaus is one of many similarities with the climb up Mont Ventoux. Similar to the junction of two of the three French climb’s routes at the Chalet Reynard, the roads from Lettomanopello and Fara Filiorum Petri meet at the Passo Lancio. It is from here that the forest begins to dissolve into a barren landscape, soon to be joined by zigzagging ski poles and giant antennas still a long way above.
Like Ventoux’s moonscape summit, you’re now at the mercy of the mountain’s elements; heat, heavy rain and battering winds, each contriving (should they desire) to make the remaining few kilometres to the summit an unpleasantly memorable one.
Should you make it to the top, the view over the Abruzzo hills and the snow-coated Apennines’ high peaks to the northwest, is spectacular; certainly well worth the time it takes to reach the town at the bottom of the climb, and the 28 remarkable kilometres that patiently follow .