Austria’s Grossglockner kicks off the mountain pass season. Mark Webber takes Maria Sharapova for a spin in the Porsche 918 Hybrid targa.
ALPINE ROADS OPENING FOR THE SUMMER.
See ADAC’s guide to what’s open and what’s not.
Unexpected, if not freak, snow in south central Switzerland at the weekend raised the prospect of the famous mountain passes remaining closed for a while longer. But a milder winter in other parts of the Alps means many of Europe’s best high roads are now ready to raise the barriers for the summer.
Austria’s blue chip pass Grossglockner, topping out at 2,504m (8,215ft), about 50km east as the crow flies from Innsbruck, opens today.
Prices have risen slightly from last year, to €34 for a day pass for a car. Until 15 June it’s open from 06:00-20:00, then from 05:00-21:30. The Franz Josef Heights loop road however will be closed until at least the weekend.
Meanwhile, nearby Nockalm and Gerlos open tomorrow (Thursday) as does Fluelapass between Davos and St Moritz in Switzerland. Splugenpass, across the Swiss-Italy border, opens on Friday. Maltatal, off the A10 Tauernautobahn at Gmund in Austria, opens on 10 May.
In general, most high roads will be open by mid-May with the exceptions at least of Timmelsjoch, south west of Innsbruck, and the Gaviapass between Bormio and Ponte di Legno in northern Italy, which are unlikely to be open before June.
As ever, drivers should not take mountain passes being open for granted. The mild winter means the risk of avalanche is higher. Mountain roads are vulnerable to the weather whatever the time of year. Very handily, German motoring club ADAC keeps up-to-date details of what’s open and what’s not. It’s in German only, but hopefully self-explanatory.