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If you can't climb the Stelvio, climb Colosso San Carlo

By Adam Galuszka
September 20, 2013

Right now I'm in Italy, staying just minutes away from one of the greatest climbs in Europe: The Stelvio. Stelvio



The Stelvio is famously known as the road with never-ending hairpins, 60 in total. It also is the 5th highest paved road in Europe and 2nd highest paved mountain pass in Europe. It tops out at 9045 feet, and if you ride it you will climb over 5000ft of that in one fell swoop. Thinking about riding up it is a big task. How many bottles do you go through on a 2+ hour climb? How much nutrition do you pack? How much extra weight does that mean you'll be carrying? Well I'm not riding the Stelvio. I'm still off the bike with a broken wrist. So instead I climbed Colosso di San Carlo. With the Stelvio far off in the distance, this gigantic statue sits right outside the town of Arona. 600x322

Over 115 feet high (40 feet shy of the Statue of Liberty), for a mere 4 euro you can go  inside the statue and  climb straight up a narrow, enclosed, completely vertical and somewhat overhanging shaft, with a not so safe ladder into the head of  San Carlo and look out his nose, ears, and eyes.

SanCarlo is Big

For 4 euro, it had to be done.  There are notices about safety harnesses and climbing clips, but apparently they don't do that anymore, or can't be bothered. It was terrifying. And worth it.

Here is the ladder: inside ladder

Here is a view from his left nostril. Nostril View

If you find yourself in Europe, unable to ride the Stelvio's switchbacks, Colosso di San Carlo is definitely  an adequate replacement.