Of course I realize that the list below is not the holy grail in terms of heavy climbs – if only because I have not climbed more mountains than I have, and it also plays a role in what your physical condition is when you choose a col (but you can read about that below).
With this disclaimer in mind, there are bound to be recognizable cols or moments in these, to a greater or lesser extent, beasts of climbing. Use it to your advantage or disadvantage if you still have to plan a cycling trip yourself!
8) The Kuhtai
During a cycling trip to Innsbrück (highly recommended by the way, nice city and beautiful, varied cycling there) the Kühtai came on our way. This name quickly gained cult status in our club of friends because football coach Aad de Mos gave some publicity to the exclamation ‘that Kut-hai again’ when he was not very happy with the performance of his Chinese player Yu Hai at Vitesse.
The pass that leads to the (ski) village of Kühtai is quite steep at the beginning, but then easy to do. Until you get to the village of Ochsengarten. There it flattens out for a while and then you usually know what is coming… Just a very steep part. That piece, in addition to its cult-sensitive name, has landed the Kühtai in this list.
(Oh yes, the descent of the Kühtai is the best ever: perfect road surface, few bends.)
7) The Passo Gavia
The surroundings of the Gavia are beautiful. The climb is – especially the first kilometers – also fine. After that it gets steeper and steeper, but you mainly come to De Tunnel Des Doods: 500 meters long, pitch dark and quite uphill. And because you want to get out as quickly as possible, you drive beyond your power. To top it off, after the tunnel – which you come out to the point of consumption – a nice piece of thick above 10 percent awaits. Oh yes, the road surface is also abysmal. Nice dude! (Yes, well, really nice, because the view is fantastic!)
6) The Galibier (of course from the Télégraphe side)
It is not for nothing that the Galibier is an Alpine giant that is often in the Tour. I’m not going to write anything new here, but what others wrote about the climb is just true: that straight is a creep where you think it’s not going up but it is, and from Plan la Chat it gets really bad ( partly because you have been climbing for quite some time).
5) The Glandon (from La Chambre)
There were quite a few other factors involved in this climb than just the climb itself. For example, the day I rode it up was a comfortable 35 degrees and it was the very first uphill miles I ever rode on a road bike – which resulted in a hunger pang of have I got you there. The fact that my chain on the largest rear chainring refused to go didn’t really help either.
4) Alpe d’Huez (last climb in the Marmotte..)
Alpe d’Huez isn’t even that hard a climb – or yes, its name is bigger than it is heavy. But if you drive the Marmotte like me, then it’s suddenly a different story. Then you have to wear it if you have already climbed all the Alps in the area after a long day of suffering.
3) The Passo Fedaia from Caprile
Twice I rode up this crazy climb in the Dolomites and both times it was a dick. A long straight with headwind (both times, so assume that is always the case..) that sometimes rises up to 15 percent. Well, below you can read my whole experience. Good luck, gentlemen Giro riders! (Because they drive it up on Saturday)
2) The Grand Ballon from Moosch
The most hellish climb I ever rode is perhaps a surprising one: the Grand Ballon in the Vosges. Anyone who has ever ridden it may now laugh. But if you have to laugh, you clearly didn’t drive it (recently) from the town of Moosch. Then it is a monster with the worst road surface ever (photo at the top of this article). It led to the following perilous adventure for me.
PS Don’t fall for the profile you see below; it’s not right and doesn’t take the awful road surface with it…
1) Obviously the vertiginous VAM mountain
There are no words to describe how tough this climb to 4800 centimeters above sea level is. Fortunately, I’ve already done some reconnaissance. Look yo!
(The profile you see above does not match the route from the video, by the way. You can approach the VAM from several sides, but Climbfinder only shows one profile).
Let us know what the toughest climbs you’ve ever climbed are! Are there a few of the above or do you have a completely different hellish climb in store for us. We are curious about your experiences!
Image: Cor Vos