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28-01-2023 | Herman Nekkers

The highest climbs of Europe #10 - Colle del Nivolet

Finding a col that's more famous than the Colle del Nivolet is easy. Finding one that's more beautiful isn't. If there's such a thing as a cycling paradise, this is it.

Colle del NivoletLooking back down the valley (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols)

Colle del Nivolet

Country: Italy
Height: 2632 meters


The Italian Colle del Nivolet is perhaps the most unknown climb on this list. This road connects the regions of Piedmont and Aosta Valley. Although it's col, with a road bike only the south side is accessible. The surrounding consists of the Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso. The Gran Paradiso is the highest mountain that's entirely on Italian soil.

The south side

The climb runs through the Valle dell'Orco. A valley that's located in a far corner in Italy. Several towns could be assigned as the starting point. From Cuorgné, at the beginning of the valley, it's a massive 55 kilometres to the summit. The first 25 km are false flat. The road connects many small villages to each other. Further down the valley, the road becomes smaller and more peaceful. Keep in mind: there's 3 km long tunnel on the main road, right after Noasca. The beautiful road that goes around the tunnel was long inaccessible, but it's reconditioned in 2019 because of the passing by of the Giro (see the video below between 2:00 and 3:30).

The village of Ceresole Reale is the last sign of civilization. From here, it's another 15 km to the top. The gradients vary quite a bit, but suffering is guaranteed. The nature around the Gran Paradiso is incredible. It's nothing more than rocks, waterfalls, and view on the eternal snow. After the two lakes, Lago Serrù and Lago Agnel, you'll ride the last 4 km in utter loneliness. This is not a climb you'll probably do again, so make sure you enjoy as much as you can. It's a beauty you should have done.

The north side

From the village of Pont, the north side of the climb starts. There are stories on the internet that you can also do it by bike, walking for several kilometres. However, this is strongly advised against. The trail is extremely steep, rocky and has some deep chasms. Even experienced hikers need to pay attention here. Good mountain boots are a must and dragging a bike along is just extra risk. Also totally impractical with an mtb. Just don't.

Book your accommodation near the Colle del Nivolet

Ceresole Reale

Don't wait to book. Many hotels offer free cancellation.


Cycling history

This climb's made its debut as the final climb in stage 13 in the 2019 Giro. Because it's a dead end and a nature reserve, the finish line was drawn at Lago Serrù (2275 m). Zakarin won the stage. Watch the summary below.

Gran fondos



Colle del NivoletColle del Nivolet



Click on the image to download the route.

The highest climbs in Europe, the list

01 Pico Veleta Spain 3375
02 Tiefenbachferner Austria 2829
03 Cime de la Bonette France 2802
04 Col de l'Iseran France 2770
05 Passo dello Stelvio Italy 2758
06 Kaunertal Austria 2750
07 Colle dell’Agnello /
Col Angel
Italy /
08 Passo Gavia Italy 2652
09 Col du Galibier France 2642
10 Colle del Nivolet Italy 2632
11 Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse
Austria 2571
12 Timmelsjoch /
Passo Rombo
Austria /
13 Pass Umbrail Switzerland /
14 Colle delle Fauniera /
Colle dei Morti
Italy 2481
15 Nufenenpass /
Passo della Novena
Switzerland 2477
16 Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard /
Colle del Gran San Bernardo
Switzerland /
17 Furkapass Switzerland 2436
18 Roque de los Muchachos Spain 2426
19 Hochwurtenspeicher Austria 2421
20 Col du Granon France 2413


Colle del NivoletView of Lago Agnel and the final kilometres (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols)

Colle del NivoletThe small stretch of paved road on the north side (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols)

Colle del NivoletView of Lago Serrù and Lago Agnel (foreground)

Colle del NivoletThe col

Colle del NivoletUnfortunately, it all comes to a dead end

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