Simplonpass/Passo del Sempione is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.005m (6,578ft) above the sea level, located between the Pennine Alps and the Lepontine Alps in Switzerland. It’s one of the most scenic drives in the country.
Now generally open in winter, the pass is traversed by the Road E62. It connects Brig in the canton of Valais with Domodossola in Piedmont (Italy). The road is wide and the traffic is not such a nuisance as one might imagine. The Simplon Pass was used as early as the Stone Age. But up to the 17th century it was used mainly by smugglers and mercenaries, because the narrow Gondo Gorge was considered by Roman Era architects to be impassable. The first pass road suitable for vehicular traffic dates back to the time of Napoleon, who wanted to travel southward with his cannons.
The road to the pass is asphalted. There are sheer drops virtually along the entire route and enough hairpins to make a whirling dervish dizzy. It is a drive built on the contour of the mountain rather than engineered for expediency. This route is not recommended if your passengers are prone to car sickness. A quick glance at the map at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns, confirms that this is no hype. The road curves gently around the mountain's topography, giving drivers some truly wondrous views of the frozen mountain slopes on the Swiss side and the verdant tree-lined valley on the Italian side.
The pass has been climbed several times in the Giro d’Italia race. There are 2 routes to reach the summit. Starting from Domodossola, the ascent is 40.7 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.733 meters. The average percentage is 4.3 %. And starting from Varzo, the ascent is 27.9 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 1.477 meters. The average percentage is 5.3 %. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to capture some awe-inspiring memories with your camera, so be sure you have a full charge on your device. The Ganter Bridge, for instance, spans the Ganter Valley, 150 meters above the valley floor at its highest. You can also stop at the Simplon Hospice, a Swiss heritage site of national importance that was founded in the first year of the 19th century under the orders of Napolean Bonaparte.
Pic: rebecca nydegger