Region: Canton of Uri, Switzerland
Height: 2,106 metres
Altitude Gain: 610m
Length: 8.6 kilometres
Average gradient: 7.1%
Maximum Gradient: 9.0%
Linking Europe’s north and south, Saint Gotthard Pass lies between the Italian-speaking village of Airolo, and Andermatt, in the German-speaking canton of Uri. From our accommodation at the Hotel Krone, in Wassen, it was a 10.5-kilometre ride to Andermatt, the easier of the two routes up the pass.
Andermatt, in fact, is connected by four Alpine passes: Oberalp Pass to the east, St. Gotthard to the south, Göschenertal Pass to the north and Furka Pass to the west. Rather ironically, the highest of the four – Furka Pass – seems to be a lot less-renowned than Switzerland’s fabled climbs, St. Gotthard and Susten Pass.
The attraction of St. Gotthard isn’t so much its difficulty, particularly from Hospental. Less than 9 kilometres and averaging 7.1%, there are dozens of more formidable climbs throughout Europe. From Airolo, it’s a different matter but we’ll get to that in my next blog. Its attraction seems more to do with its engineering history, particularly its tunnel – which draws motorists aplenty – and its cobbled road.
Apart from the bleak conditions, which, if anything, worsened the higher I climbed, it took me surprisingly less time to reach the top of the pass than I ever envisaged. The first 4 kilometres of the climb average but a breath over 6%, while the remaining 5 are approximately 7.6%. With these figures, the main attraction from Gotthard’s northern route is obviously not its difficulty but its well-preserved cobbled road and the breathtaking scenery along the way.
Books by Mark Krieger:
‘High Spain Drifter’ is available on Amazon , Barnes and Noble, Booktopia and other online bookstores.
‘Lycra, Lattes and the Long Way Round’ is available on Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books
Both books are also available at local bookshops on the Mornington Peninsula: @ Rosebud Bookbarn and @ La Brocante