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Switzerland 2000
A Photo Journal from Bavaria to Italy
August 9 to September 2, 2000

St. Gotthard Pass

Our original plans called for crossing the pass by train from Erstfeld to Airolo. Herr Risi advised us of a practical approach in tackling St. Gotthard by taking two short train rides up to the town of Andermatt, located right at the base of the pass. With his encouragement, four of us decided to give it a try. Ed kept to the original plan and avoided the pass by taking the train through a mountain tunnel to the other side. Here we are starting the 9 km climb from Andermatt to the top, an elevation gain of 630 meters, or 2067 feet, in 5.6 miles.

Three of the Swiss national bike routes pass through Andermatt. The "North-South" route leading out of town was on a nice paved shoulder.

There are two parallel roads that weave their way over the pass. The newer freeway handles nearly all the vehicular traffic. Cyclists and horse drawn carriages use the old road. The road surface is cobblestone for the last 4 km, which may have been part of the old Roman road. It was quite an effort to ride the fully loaded bikes to the top, but it was well worth it!

YES!! We made it to the top! We ate a well-deserved lunch on the terrace of a hotel/restaurant at the summit. The view of the Leventina Valley and the canton (province) of Ticino to the south was fabulous.

This is a view of the old Roman road as it descends the southern side of the pass (or ascends from the other point of view). Instead of taking these cobblestone switchbacks, we opted to descend on the smoother auto road which begins with a 1/2 mile long tunnel through the mountain.

We are heading for Airolo, at the base of the pass on the southern side. By the time the four of us reaches town we realize we won't make our destination of Locarno by dark. Ed has biked the length of the Leventina Valley and is a few hours ahead of us. We play some catch-up and take a train 40 km from Faido to Bellinzona and continue biking to Locarno where we meet up with Ed at the youth hostel.

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2000 Bob Parry


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