Category Archives: Alps

Every European biker wants to ride the Alps someday. Here some advice and an interactive map of the main passes for your planning.

There is Snow on them Hills

Großglockner Hochalpenstraße, Austria in July.

Woke up after a good night’s sleep at Edelweißhütte Berggasthof at Grossglockner Edelweißspitze.  Last night we arrived in thick fog and drizzle, when the evening was turning cooler.

At the parking area just below the last ascent to the Edelweißhütte, one could not see the other side of the area and I had to carefully circle the empty car park to find the small cobblestone road leading further up towards the Edelweißhütte gasthof, which I knew was on the top. Just was not sure if this was the right car park in the fog. I remembered the route from memory and just was not sure.

After some circling, I managed to find the cobblestone track. We could only see a few meters, but we took the path. Once you take this narrow track, you commit to it. It is virtually not possible to turn back on the narrow, steep and slippery cobblestone road. Not on our heavy Harleys, nor really on any touring bike.

Upon arrival, I guess we took the host family by surprise as they were not expecting anyone to come through the weather and there were no other guests. Regardless, we got a very warm welcome, beer, good food and garage for our bikes and a room for us to stay.

In the morning looking at the window expecting to see the mountain view, I noticed the window being covered with fog after the night’s heavy sleep. Still tired, I opened the window and to my surprise the view did not change – still foggy. Looking more carefully, it was SNOWING! In JULY!

The drizzle had turned into snow during night and we had about a foot of snow on the ground with more coming. The stay at the Edelweißhütte turned out to be one of the most memorable days of our trip. Lazy morning, snowfights and general amazement about the unexpected turn of the events.

The snow is not uncommon even during July and I have now been stuck at Edelweißspitze twice due to snow in July.

Even though the snow was as thick as 20 – 50 cm, the summer snow only covers the mountain top and as one descents just a few hundred meters, the snow quickly melts away. The key difference to winter is that the ground under the snow is not frozen and once the snow is cleared, the ground is only wet, not icy. Well, the cobblestones still were slippery and the ride down from Edelweißhütte was exiting. The snow was cleared by using a broom sweeping a narrow path down the track for us to ride.

And once at Edelweißhütte, it was 25c warm with the place busy with biker groups and vintage cars, etc. I must say I prefer the snow and the forced lazy mornings in the beauty of the snowy mountains in July.

Stelvio in Italy is no Stranger for Midsummer Snow either

Stelvio, Italy June 30th 2017

Photo Moment

Riding into the Ambush

Someday, riding the greatest roads and sceneries, it would be great to have a photo taken from that very moment. With a bit of pre-organizing, setting up cameras etc this can be done. Also the new drones give great views of your ride. So go ahead, you will not regret it.

But all this pre-arranging is often just too much. And I do not have the pictures to prove it!


In few places and on certain days, a photographer may be lurking around the corner. When in luck, these are professional photographers with quality gear. All you need to do is to look up the fotos from the net.


At Stelvio Pass on the Alps in Northern Italy, I was lucky to ride into one such ambush. Photographers were ready on both sides of the pass. All I needed to do was to make note of the approximate time of my passing the photographer and later, to log on to their site ( in this case) and find my pictures – usually there are several to choose from. Here are a few samples for your enjoyment!


Map of the Alp Passes

Passi delle Alpi

A map for some 115 Alpine passes can be found by clicking the image below. The earlier interactive feature is unfortunately no longer working in the first image. Interactive feature in the image for the Swiss alps works fine.

Klausen Pass, Northern Switzerland is also for some reason missing from the map but can easily be found by just googling… A nice route to enter the Alps coming from Schwarzwald i.e. Black Forest in Germany.

Link to interactive app of the Swiss Alp Passes

Riding to the Alps via Schwarzwald

After crossing central Europe, Freudenstadt in Schwarzwald is a very nice town to stay overnight, exploring the area and/or before continuing to the alps. After staying there twice, I can recommend one comfortable, relatively small, family-run hotel in the town centre, Hotel Adler. With very few exceptions, I have usually never needed advance bookings when touring the alps but just dropped in when felt like it. Notable exceptions are Lugano and Montreaux during the Jazz festivals but still, even then, managed to find a good hotel. If you go to Klausen Pass from Black Forest, it is some 300km and you may want to stay overnight in one of the hotels on the higher plains. I can already hear the cow-bells… yes, there are plenty of cows in Klausen Pass… From Klausen pass you have easy access to Susten Pass (stop at Sustenbrüggli restaurant), Grimsel Pass, Furka Pass, Gotthard pass (remember to ride the old pass!!!) etc. Head to Andermatt, another really nice town to stay overnight in, with plenty of comfy hotels and even some lively pub-life. A definite plus for Andermatt is the fact that you can access Oberalp Pass (Oberalp Strasse) directly just behind the town! TOP TIP: At some point you may want to visit Passo Stelvio by the Swiss border in Italy: One top tip giving you flexibility for route planning is to know that even though it is listed as a gravel road (and partly it is gravel), Umbrail Pass from the north (Schwizerland) leading to Passo Stelvio (Italy) is firm and really easy to ride even on a heavy touring Harley. No need to avoid it. Done it three times and would not expect it to have changed for the worse. Riding in the Alps is fantastic and good fun. The scenery is breath taking and the roads are out of this world. Plenty of places to stay overnight. But while you are there, do not count calories…

Grossglockner Edelweissspitze, July 4th 2007. Wake up in Winter Wonderland! Remember to stay at the top – 2571m – at Edelweisshutte!