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Hardest Climb In The World

Devon LadDevon Lad Posts: 75
edited March 2015 in Road beginners
After watching the Pros blast it up the famous alpine climbs seeing people on the forums talking of their experiences of places like Hardknott pass being harder than the alpine climbs, it got me thinking, what actually is the hardest climb in the world?
To my confusion from just fiddling around on google and trawling climb by bike it seems as if all the famous climbs are fairly tame by world standards.
When people say the hardest climb in the world, or in Europe, does that just mean the hardest climb on the pro tour?
The "hardest" I've managed to find so far is the Scanuppia which averages 17.6% for 7.5km and maxs out at 45% in some places.
Also a hill called the Flumserberg which featured in the tour de suisse averages 12% for 11km.
I suppose what I'm trying to get at is, why aren't these climbs more famous? and what is the hardest out there?
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  • Mt. Everest?

    20110128203738!Trollface.png


    but in all seriousness i reckon altitude has more to do with it than the gradient -> because you'll find steep gradients all over the world.


    Alpe D'huez goes up to ~1800m according to google

    but i've been trekking up to 4600m in Peru.. and that was killer... there just isn't much air!

    I'm not very clued up on actual famous climbs though -> so i can't really compare altitudes and gradients and suggest the hardest.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    but in all seriousness i reckon altitude has more to do with it than the gradient -> because you'll find steep gradients all over the world.

    I wouldn't agree with that. I've ridden up Mount Evans in Colorado. That goes to 14,000 feet and there are few metalled roads anywhere in the world higher. It wasn't that hard - just need to be aclimatised. There may be half as much oxygen at 14,000 feet but it isn't a problem once you are used to it. But I wouldn't have liked to try a Hardknott at 14,000 feet!

    The question is probably pretty silly really as much depends on the skills of the climber. Eg Bradley Wiggins suffering on the Angliru on the Vuelta and Cobo waltzing it. What you find the hardest climb in the world won't be someone elses hardest climb. That Scanuppia one might tick the boxes for a surfaced road but of course if you allow unmade surfaces the potential for tough climbs becomes far greater and the climbs far harder.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • PseudonymPseudonym Posts: 1,032
    if you're looking for somewhere harder than the Scanuppia, then you obviously haven't ridden the Scanuppia....
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,445
    Generally climbs are as hard as the gearing you have and/or the speed you try to go up them. If your gearing isn't low enough you won't be able to go slowly enough to make it "easy" even if you wanted to. I haven't done any mega monster climbs like Scanuppia, so maybe I'll be corrected on this, but I assume that even on the steepest surfaced road it would be possible to set up a bike with gearing low enough to make it not too difficult at a very low speed, until you get to a gradient that is so steep that you start losing traction and/or have problems keeping the front wheel on the ground...

    Difficult climbs for me are ones that have several kilometers at 9 or 10% right before the top, when I've only got gearing suitable for the average 5 or 6% gradient of the entire climb...
  • Waipio's pretty steep, albeit a lot shorter than the Scanuppia
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  • Scanuppia looks insane
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Anything over 30% is seriously steep and creates difficulty in terms of retaining balance and rear wheel grip - I recently rode up a 30% unclassified road in the Quantocks which was pretty tough on 36x25 with CX tyres are there was lots of loose gravel to contend with.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • BobbinogsBobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    Pseudonym wrote:

    Not sure I would like to descend that one. That surface and that gradient would scare the pants off me!
  • Never heard of Scanuppia before so just did a search. There's pictures of people "tacking" up it! Cycling across the road to try and take some of the gradient out and actually make some progress
    :shock:
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  • Chogori or K2 (same mountain) are more difficult than Everest (according to the number of climbers who have perished in the same climbing season, and to those who have successfully returned from its summit, having climbed both).

    By bike, Scanuppia sounds horrible, 7.5km at 17.6% average. YIKES!
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 60,998 Lives Here
    Never heard of Scanuppia before so just did a search. There's pictures of people "tacking" up it! Cycling across the road to try and take some of the gradient out and actually make some progress
    :shock:

    Not that unusual. I did it in the Pyrenees when I was a little overgeared.
  • I had a bit of a youtube browse at the Scanuppia - blimey!

    I did see someone comment in one of the Italian vids that it's now closed to Cyclists though?
  • Hello !

    Based on the data, values of the two most famous, serious climb-database (salite.ch and climbbybike-.com ) it is the hardest or 2nd hardest paved climbs of the Alps, harder than Angliru or Monte Zoncolan.
    Grosser Oscheniksee (2394 m) , Austria
    Data: 17 km & 9,8%, but the last 10 kms = 13% steepness, but often 14-15% and max. 18-20% (you can see it in my video )
    That's an epic, a monster, a killer But I loved it. That was a real challenge !

    I'm happy to present my detailed, 32 minutes long, Full HD cycling video of Ausserfragant (712 m) - Grosser Oscheniksee (2394 m) climb. It shows how challenging it is !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C70JluUdLg

    That's the video !

    2 great pics about the climb:
    20120701_ocheniksee19.JPG
    and:
    20120701_ocheniksee16.JPG

    Best regards, Gabor
  • Climb by bike gives top place to Mauna Kea in Hawaii. 67km from sea level to the summit at 4200m! The last 19km climbs 2100m - average gradient of 11%.
  • Scanuppia, also called Malga Palazzo is not something you want to do on a road bike. It's just a stupid road made of concrete that someone managed to get done for the benefit of a couple of shepherds... you will find things like that anywhere in the world... it's where you draw the line in terms of what is a road and what isn't.

    Although Europe has some serious climbs, the max elevation is a paltry 3000 mt, while in America you will find roads that go up to 4000 mt. Elevation gives a completely new dimension to the challenge. a 10% gradient over 3000 mt elevation is probably more like a 20% gradient at sea level.

    Personally I find my VAM drops like a stone above 1600-1700 mt... could also be because by the time I get there I am getting tired though...
  • ugo a very serious question - you clearly have a lot of cycling experience. can you/do you offer any motivational advice or tips?
  • I can, harden the f**k up!
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Never heard of Scanuppia before so just did a search. There's pictures of people "tacking" up it! Cycling across the road to try and take some of the gradient out and actually make some progress
    :shock:

    Pffft - I tack up any climb I can get away with !

    Plenty of nasty UK climbs around without the need to go to Italy.

    Have you seen Mow Cop for one ? Its got houses on so you can see how steep the gradient is. Its nasty.
  • cc78cc78 Posts: 599
    Hello !

    Based on the data, values of the two most famous, serious climb-database (salite.ch and climbbybike-.com ) it is the hardest or 2nd hardest paved climbs of the Alps, harder than Angliru or Monte Zoncolan.
    Grosser Oscheniksee (2394 m) , Austria
    Data: 17 km & 9,8%, but the last 10 kms = 13% steepness, but often 14-15% and max. 18-20% (you can see it in my video )
    That's an epic, a monster, a killer But I loved it. That was a real challenge !

    I'm happy to present my detailed, 32 minutes long, Full HD cycling video of Ausserfragant (712 m) - Grosser Oscheniksee (2394 m) climb. It shows how challenging it is !

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C70JluUdLg

    That's the video !

    Best regards, Gabor

    Great video, looks absolutely awesome, thanks for posting

    25 mins 30 secs... that view!!!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    Hardest climb: out of bed on a cold wet morning with the wind howling but got to get the miles in.
  • I've done a 3 mile climb near Rochdale where a lot of it is a 20% gradient. That's so steep it's nearly impossible get started again if you stop!
  • cougie wrote:
    Never heard of Scanuppia before so just did a search. There's pictures of people "tacking" up it! Cycling across the road to try and take some of the gradient out and actually make some progress
    :shock:

    Pffft - I tack up any climb I can get away with !

    Plenty of nasty UK climbs around without the need to go to Italy.

    Have you seen Mow Cop for one ? Its got houses on so you can see how steep the gradient is. Its nasty.

    If Scanuppia is the Shard, Mow Cop is one of the tiny building you see form the top. It's a typical British thing to claim you have the hardest climbs in the world when as a matter of fact even the highest peak in Scotland is hard to define a mountain, by Alpine standards.... it's latidute rather than altitude that makes a 1600 mt peak into a mountain. And even Alpine standards are fairly minute, compared to some roads you will find in the Americas or in Asia... so everything in perspective, including Hardknott, which is nothing more than a steep bump. There are no climbs of any relevance in Great Britain... the reason you find them hard is gearing. You might find the ramp to my uncle's garage impossible to climb with a 39 x 25... that doesn't make it a hard climb... just a steep bump. A different story is to crawl up the side of a mountain for two hours, while the sun is baking you or the wind is pushing g you everywhere.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    There are no climbs of any relevance in Great Britain... the reason you find them hard is gearing. You might find the ramp to my uncle's garage impossible to climb with a 39 x 25... that doesn't make it a hard climb... just a steep bump. A different story is to crawl up the side of a mountain for two hours, while the sun is baking you or the wind is pushing g you everywhere.

    I always find your judgement in what you like extremely good, well thought out and considered and I rarely regret following your advice in this respect. But equally, your judgment in what you don't like is often lamentable, ill judged and often plain silly (not all the time - I think you are spot on re expensive boutique steel frames!). This obsession of yours that there are no significant climbs in the UK is a fine example. Harknott in itself isn't too bad but how easy did you find it at the end of the Fred Whitton? I've been up alps in the baking sun and it is tough. But so is Hardknott when you are tired. It's really quite foolish to call it a 'steep bump'. It is a worthy cycling challenge just like an Alpine pass. You can reduce any climb (up to a point) to relative insignificance with sufficiently low gearing. A slick tired MTB would get up pretty much any alpine climb even on a hot day without difficulty. It would just take a long time. But we don't use a slick tired MTB so it is a challenge.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Rolf F wrote:
    There are no climbs of any relevance in Great Britain... the reason you find them hard is gearing. You might find the ramp to my uncle's garage impossible to climb with a 39 x 25... that doesn't make it a hard climb... just a steep bump. A different story is to crawl up the side of a mountain for two hours, while the sun is baking you or the wind is pushing g you everywhere.

    I always find your judgement in what you like extremely good, well thought out and considered and I rarely regret following your advice in this respect. But equally, your judgment in what you don't like is often lamentable, ill judged and often plain silly (not all the time - I think you are spot on re expensive boutique steel frames!). This obsession of yours that there are no significant climbs in the UK is a fine example. Harknott in itself isn't too bad but how easy did you find it at the end of the Fred Whitton? I've been up alps in the baking sun and it is tough. But so is Hardknott when you are tired. It's really quite foolish to call it a 'steep bump'. It is a worthy cycling challenge just like an Alpine pass. You can reduce any climb (up to a point) to relative insignificance with sufficiently low gearing. A slick tired MTB would get up pretty much any alpine climb even on a hot day without difficulty. It would just take a long time. But we don't use a slick tired MTB so it is a challenge.

    Rolf, you are not getting my point... if you stick 11 climbs in a row and then Hardknott, then it becomes hard... on its own its only hard because you don't want to fit a triple chain set to your bike.

    On the contrary, the Zoncolan is hard even with a triple or a quadruple, becuae you have to negotiate similar gradients for 3 time the length, which is what gets you.

    It's only the combination of gradient, altitude difference (length), elevation and weather that makes a climb hard... you can be individually prepared for each of them, but not all four... if you only have one of those elements in the climb and find it hard, it's called being unprepared.
  • If Scanuppia is the Shard, Mow Cop is one of the tiny building you see form the top. It's a typical British thing to claim you have the hardest climbs in the world when as a matter of fact even the highest peak in Scotland is hard to define a mountain, by Alpine standards.... it's latidute rather than altitude that makes a 1600 mt peak into a mountain. And even Alpine standards are fairly minute, compared to some roads you will find in the Americas or in Asia... so everything in perspective, including Hardknott, which is nothing more than a steep bump. There are no climbs of any relevance in Great Britain... the reason you find them hard is gearing. You might find the ramp to my uncle's garage impossible to climb with a 39 x 25... that doesn't make it a hard climb... just a steep bump. A different story is to crawl up the side of a mountain for two hours, while the sun is baking you or the wind is pushing g you everywhere.

    Did anyone else have an image like this:

    Heartbreak-Ridge.jpg

    in their mind while reading that? :)
    Chunky Cyclists need your love too! :-)
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  • Did anyone else have an image like this:

    Heartbreak-Ridge.jpg

    in their mind while reading that? :)

    Is Gunny not your hero too? :shock:
  • cougie wrote:
    Never heard of Scanuppia before so just did a search. There's pictures of people "tacking" up it! Cycling across the road to try and take some of the gradient out and actually make some progress
    :shock:

    Pffft - I tack up any climb I can get away with !

    Plenty of nasty UK climbs around without the need to go to Italy.

    Have you seen Mow Cop for one ? Its got houses on so you can see how steep the gradient is. Its nasty.

    If Scanuppia is the Shard, Mow Cop is one of the tiny building you see form the top. It's a typical British thing to claim you have the hardest climbs in the world when as a matter of fact even the highest peak in Scotland is hard to define a mountain, by Alpine standards.... it's latidute rather than altitude that makes a 1600 mt peak into a mountain. And even Alpine standards are fairly minute, compared to some roads you will find in the Americas or in Asia... so everything in perspective, including Hardknott, which is nothing more than a steep bump. There are no climbs of any relevance in Great Britain... the reason you find them hard is gearing. You might find the ramp to my uncle's garage impossible to climb with a 39 x 25... that doesn't make it a hard climb... just a steep bump. A different story is to crawl up the side of a mountain for two hours, while the sun is baking you or the wind is pushing g you everywhere.


    Exactly right. Bear in mind that each weekend, thousands of 'cyclists' ride to Box 'Hill' thinking that it is a hilly workout.

    Most climbs in the UK can be ridden in 39x25 relatively comfortably. They are short and manageable whereas longer alpine climbs are different kettle of fish.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,758
    They are short and manageable whereas longer alpine climbs are different kettle of fish.

    Yes, my point is that if you (or if I ) find Hardknott hard, it's not because it is, but because we don't have the correct gearset to climb the road that someone has decided to make unnecessarily steep... fit a triple and it's a doddle. While if you have to climb for 50 Km up to 3500 mt elevation, with or without the right gears, it's bloody hard, even if the average is only 5%!

    They are called mountains for a reason and in the Uk there ain't any. The highest paved road in Britain is 840 mt and the highest pass 670 mt
  • What would be the hardest of all the roads frequented by the pros?
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