Anyone heading to the Andes is in for a tough time


We recently introduced you to the “Mountain of Death” that is being tackled twice in the Vuelta a Costa Rica, which got us thinking about some of the other brutal climbs in far off places that we’re quite glad we’ll never get to climb.

The Alto de Letras was one that a lot of you suggested on Facebook, but we’ve also frittered away a morning exploring Strava to find the world’s hardest segments that you can tackle by bike.

Col Punta Callán, Peru

A climb so brutal that it appears that no one has actually ridden up it to create a segment, the Col Punta Callán starts on Peru’s Pacific coast, starting off near sea level and rising to a height of more than 4,000m over its 113km length.

Alto de Letras, Colombia

Certainly the hardest climb in the world with a professional race going up it on a regular basis, the 88km-long Alto de Letras is so hard that when the Vuelta a Colombia first tackled it in 1951 it was divided into two stages.

Mauna Kea, USA

For many Hawaii and bikes might mean the flat coastal roads tackled by triathletes in the Ironman World Championships, but this long climb to the Big Island’s summit is seriously tough, with the final 25km averaging almost 10 per cent.

Taiwan KOM Challenge, Taiwan

Climbing from the coast to the summit of Mt He Huan, this climb is tackled each year by a mass start race, and comes with a brutal sting in the tail with gradients of up to 27 per cent near the summit.

Hardknott Pass, UK

Our plucky Brit can’t come close to matching the length of its more exotic competitors, but with the road rising well over 30 per cent and wet tarmac common, you’ll do well to reach the top without walking.

Ticlio Pass, Peru

Another brutal Peruvian climb that seems so hard that no one on Strava has actually ridden it, the Ticlio Pass starts off in the capital of Lima, rising to a height of nearly 5,000m.

Fargo Street, USA

We can guarantee that this Los Angeles climb will be the longest 100m of your life with its average (yes, average) gradient of 34 per cent.

Le Maido, France

You’ll need to take your mountain bike to the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion to tackle this one, but we’re sure the views from the top will be worth the two hours of suffering.

Alto de l’Angliru, Spain

A regular feature of the Vuelta a España that could return to the race in 2017, the Angliru is a climb that strikes fear into the hearts of professional riders, especially the 3km Cueña les Cabres section which averages 23.6 per cent.

Cerro de la Muerte

With a name translating as “The Mountain of Death” you can guess that this is going to be hard. We just wonder whether anyone has done both sides in a day?

Pico Basilé, Equatorial Guinea

Another island paradise that is home to an absolute brute of a climb, this ascent starts on the cliffs on the north of Bioko, making its way all the way to the volcanic ceiling of the island.

Dante’s Pass, USA

The stats really don’t do this climb justice: 37km at 4 per cent sound pretty hard, but in the context of this list, not too bad. But what you’ve got to consider is that this climb rises out of the heart of Death Valley.

Pozza San Glisente, Italy

The only alpine climb to make our list, this little known climb that rises south out of the village of Esine has sketch tarmac, a tough average gradient of 15 per cent, and an even tougher maximum gradient of 35 per cent.

Mount Evans, USA

The site of an annual hill climb since 1962, Mount Evans is the highest paved road in North America, and the race is often hit by terrible weather with even the professionals taking nearly two hours to reach the summit.