The highest climbs of Europe #10 - Colle del Nivolet

Monday 01 June 2020 by Frank Jansen

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 Nivolet

Picture 1 (Adobe Stock): View on the Lago Serrù (l) and the Lago Agnel (r)

Colle del Nivolet

Country: Italy
Hoogte: 2632 meter


The Italian Colle del Nivolet is perhaps the most unknown climb on this list. This road connects the regions of Piemont and Valle d'Aosta. Although it's col, with a road bike only the south side is accessible. The north side is unpaved, but can be done with a MTB or even a gravel bike although you will have to walk a few sections. 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.

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 fondo's



Colle del NivoletColle del Nivolet



Click on the image to download the route.

The highest climbs in Europe, the list

10 Colle del Nivolet
Italy 2632
11 Grossglockner
Austria 2571
12 Timmelsjoch /
Passo Rombo
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
17 Furkapass Switzerland 2436
18 Roque de los Muchachos Spain 2426
19 Hochwurtenspeicher Austria 2421
20 Col du Granon France 2413


Colle del Nivolet

Picture 2 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): View on the valley

Colle del Nivolet

Picture 3 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): View on the Lago Agnel and the last kilometres

Colle del Nivolet

Picture 4 (Michiel van Lonkhuizen - CyclingCols): The final part

Colle del Nivolet

Picture 5 (Adobe Stock): View on the Lago Serrù and the Lago Agnel (foreground)

Colle del Nivolet

Picture 6 (Wikimedia Commons - Awd)The top

Colle del Nivolet

Picture 7 (Google Maps): Unfortunately, it's a dead end

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