Alps 2013, 6/12, Andermatt

Our last full day of riding. Sigh. All the passes that were closed yesterday are still closed today. Sigh again. But we will endeavour to make the best of it!

We start the day by seeing how far we can get up Furkapass. Turns out we can get pretty far, and we are not alone in doing the up-and-back to the barrier. Furkapass is a great road with absolutely stunning Alpine scenery. Even though we could not cross the whole pass we thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

The road to Furkapass

VFR1200X on the road to Furkapass

Dave coming up Furkapass

Dave continues up Furka

Forbidden fruit - this view was past the barrier

iPhone pano of Furkapass

Peter coming down Furka

Furka is just a stunning road

Peter coming down Furka

And here comes Dave

Just another curve on Furka


Crosstourer on Furka

After Furka we rode back through Andermatt and headed out Oberalp Pass on our way to Lukmanier Pass. I had not done Lukmanier before, and it was one of the few passes that was actually open so I was looking forward to it.

Oberalp is yet another beautiful pass with great turns and jaw-dropping views. It is a bit more heavily-trafficked than others as it's one of the main roads into Andermatt. Construction on the pass had us slowed for a bit but overall we had a great ride to Disentis.

Topping off at 'Goldfinger Gas'

Looking down Oberalp Pass

And the bus for the win

Crosstourer on Oberalp

Lukmanier was an odd pass. A scenic ascent, not stunning views but just pretty (for around here anyway), and not a lot of turns except for one short section at the beginning. We stopped for a snack at the visitor center at the top before heading down the other side. There were lots of pavement joints on the descent that were making the VFR shake it's head but I still had a blast on this section. We met up at the bottom and agree rather than taking main roads back to Andermatt (and completing any kind of loop for the day) we would just do the pass again and head back over Oberalp a second time as well. The run back to the top was spirited.

On the way down we made a brief detour to cross a dam that was accessible from the main road, then stopped in Disentis for some ice cream and a short rest.

Visitor stop at the top of Lukmanier

Top of the pass

Lukmanier pass

This Aston sounded great coming into the lot

But the best thing was that he was driving with his young son in a car seat. What a lucky kid!

On the dam

Dave crossing the dam back to Lukmanier Pass

You can see a long gallery on Lukmanier Pass on the right side of the photo

Almost done with Lukmanier

Dave and I waiting for Peter to come back from his sightseeing detour

Apparantly the bar is in Mumpe Medel

Ice cream break

Not bad, not bad at all

After ice cream it was back on the road for a 2nd crossing of Oberalp. More traffic than earlier to deal with but in some ways that can be more fun. We stopped at the top this time since the snack bar/gift shop was open and took some more time to just savor our last day in this amazing place.

Heading up Oberalp, looking back

Going up

One of the more fun sections of Oberalp

Almost to the top

Parking area at top of Oberalp

Not a bad place to hang out for a bit

There were a beautiful group of Guzzi's (is there any other kind?) at the summit

Very nice


The eyes say it all

Nice Griso

Oberalp looking down to Andermatt

Pointing out the sights
Back in Andermatt we had a quick lunch before heading to another new-for-me pass, Susten. The main road north out of Andermatt is busy but super-curvy, and a fun little ride on our way to the pass. The ramp up Susten was uique, for the most part a straight-ish road clinging to the mountainside. It had some bends, but not really any of the hairpins or full-on turns of most other passes. This was a road that you could make some serious time on if you were so inclined.

Of course just when the road starts to get really interesting and the scenery extraordinary we get to the barrier. There was a small cafe at that spot, and a dozen or so other bikers hanging around - along with a pair of moto cops. We let them get a good head start before we headed back down the pass.

Fun's over boys

The view from the barrier location on Sustenpass

Cafe on Sustenpass

These guys must have serious skills after a while

Peter on Sustenpass

Looking back down Sustenpass

Midway back down Sustenpass. You can see how this road is much less twisty than most around here

Not wanting to call it a day yet we decided to tackle one more new pass, Klausen. None of us had read up on the pass, but it looked twisty on the GPS and, most importantly, it was open. After joining the main road there was about a 1/2 hour ride north to Klausen, most of which I spent with those 2 motorcycle cops on my 6. Does not make for quick progress.

The turnoff for Klausen goes through the small town of Altdorf, where the road begins a series of hairpins through residential and commercial areas. There were tons of scooters in the town hauling ass up and down the hairpins which was fun to watch. After what seemed like a few miles the congestion started to fade and we began what I assume was the pass proper.

The west side of Klausen Pass was super narrow in places, definitely not enough room for 2 cars to pass. Hairpins, blind corners, tiny bridges, drop-offs, you name it this pass had it. It was pretty slow going up as the road was so twisted and narrow you couldn't really commit to anything - especially with the blind corners.

After a few miles of serious twisty climbing the road transformed into a hug-the-cliff narrow strip of tarmac with a HUGE dropoff on the other side of a flimsy pipe-rail. This was like nothing we had seen before - the sheer dropoff combined with the tiny road was pretty unsettling (at least to us newbies, some other groups of bikes had no such misgivings as they flew by).


Me amidst the cows

iPhone pano looking back on start of Klausen high section

Dave's CBF1000 on Klausen

Looking ahead on Klausen. The road had not started to get super-crazy yet. You can see 2 huge waterfalls on the right.

Continuing up Klausen

Peter coming up. Not sure how much safety that pipe-rail provides.


Just starting to get interesting

Dave on Klausen

Looking back on a part of the 'ledge' section of Klausen

Dave rides the ledge

Peter holding up a few locals

Someone slower than us!


The bike was working pretty hard to keep going up the pass

After the crazy 'ledge' section of the pass there were some traditional twisties and hairpins before you got to the summit. I scored some pass stickers at the little shop while I waited for the rest of the guys to arrive. It was proper cold at the top, and it was getting late, so we didn't hang around too long. Not wanting the adventure to be over we chose to see what the east ramp of the pass was like before doubling back and doing the crazy west side again.

The east side could not have been more different. Where the west had the ledge section, and crazy blind turns and narrow segments that were somwhat reminiscint of the best passes Italy had to offer (I'm thinking of you, Passo Gavia!), the east ramp was a perfect ribbon of flowing tarmac. Great hairpins, perfect pavement, clear sightlines, stunning views, you name it. We rode all the way to the bottom and couldn't wait to turn around and run back up.

No shortage of snow at the top of Klausen

Interesting variety of bikes coming up the pass

Peter arrives

Looking ahead to the descent to the east

Beautiful VFR at the top of Klausenpass

What a hoot this has to be on the pass

Starting down the pass

Fun ahead

Going down...

Me on Klausen. Peter took this from the roof of the building next to the 2 bikes in the picture just above.

Dave heading down Klausen

What a great, great ride down Klausen

As usual we regrouped at the top before continuing. Peter went ahead and Dave and I hung back for a while chatting. We figured we would catch up to Peter shortly as he'd likely be stopping for photos along the way. As it would turn out he didn't stop at all and got pretty far ahead on the pass - which would lead to a heart-stopping incident for Dave and I on the descent.

Pass was wet in some sections

Starting the descent of Klausenpass

Dave starting down Klausen

No idea what this structure is/was

Getting overcast but still a beautiful sight

We were surprised we hadn't caught up to Peter yet, and as we were just clearing the narrow 'ledge' section we came across a group of bikes and cars pulled over on the side of one of the big dropoffs. As we rode by our thoughts turned to the worst, and going around the curve just passed them we saw guys climbing over the pipe-rail. Oh shit.

We immediately stopped in the road and looked over the rail. Fortunately it wasn't Peter, but sadly there was another bike and rider down the hill who had gone over (or under) the rail and off the road. The rider was on the ground not far from the road, and his bike was a ways further down the slope. Thankfully the rider was moving - not getting up, but alive. This was a section that was just a few yards from the huge-dropoff ledge area. If anyone had gone off on that section you wouldn't even be able to see them, let alone climb down and help.

There were obviously enough people around lending assistance so we didn't linger too long.

Looking back at the scene of the accident. Just around that bend the dropoff is hundreds of feet instead of this gentle slope.

I spent the remainder of the ride down the pass in a very different mindset. We caught up to Peter further down the pass, and watched as an ambulance made it's way up to attend to the fallen rider. There were several cars going up as well, pushing their limits making a run to the top. One GTI in particular came at me around a blind corner hauling ass, his outside suspension fully compressed and tires howling.

The ride back to Andermatt was mostly uneventful until we got close to town - the St. Gotthard tunnel was closed, so they were diverting all traffic over the tiny twisting road into town. We sat for a while, filtered past some folks, sat again, etc. Got back into town just as darkness fell.

Overall this was a great day of riding, and Klausenpass especially was a fantastic find. It was sobering to come across the rider down, but still it was an amazing end to the day.

Tomorrow will be mostly just an Autobahn blast back to Landshut to return the bikes.

Our regular dinner spot, the Monopol Hotel

Cheers to another wonderful Alps trip