Being based in Zermatt this has been my training climb for many years. It is a hard climb, but it is also a spectacular road up from Stalden to Moosalp and the route choice for the swiss gigathlon and a 24 total hour hight climbing by bike world record attempt. I normally do the climb on a mountain bike but have done it on my road bike as well. The second part of the climb after Torbel is actually the hardest and to do a good time you have to be very determined. Finally it flattens out a bit and you can sprint to Moosalp which is actually a pass even though it is situated on a ridge. Don''t forget to stop at the restaurant and have one of their famous creme schnitts. The descent is dangerously fast, whichever way you decide to go, and watch out for the bus.
Col de la Faucille, Gex story submitted on 11/22/2011
The historical col de la Faucille from Gex is a great climb on a good road with fantastic views of the lac leman and Geneve. Every since I watched Lance Armstrong and his team postal lead the peloton up here in the tour de france I have used this pass as a training ride. Starting from the roundabout in Gex I try and find a steady rhythm with about a 39/25 and keep it until the famous Fontaine Napoleon which incidently has very good drinking water and I invariably fill up here on the way down. From this corner however the climb is steeper and I usually drop to my biggest cog of 26 here and then survive the long steep straight to a viewpoint and parking and then push hard through the last few corners before the top. The road actually descends just before the finish and sometimes I am able to carry my speed through to a sprint finish but it is always hard. My PB is just on the 40 minutes!
On weekends there are lots of other cyclists to latch on to on this climb and if you have time you can continue on to make a nice climb by bike loop in the Jura.
Klausen Pass, Altdorf story submitted on 10/11/2011
I did the nice hard day ride as suggested above by the most respected Anthony Mowers. I started from Altdorf and enjoyed a nice steady climb on a beautiful road up to the pass. I particularly enjoyed the section marked "gefährlich strecke" through the cliffs. Indeed the wayside is marked by flowers and memorials to motorbikers who have died there. The whole route is quite historical and it is worth a coffee break at the old Klausen Passhöhe hotel. I did it on a clear autumn day. I saw a couple of other cyclists.The descent to Linthal was very good too, at first a bit bumpy because of the road surface but with great corners and then fast and furious down a wider road and through the scary tunnel to the famous cobbled corners. They were doing some road works, so the surface will be improved from the time of writing. I went on to Glarus despite a head wind and continued up and over the Pragel Pass, but that is another story; and believe me, it was a hard day ride!
Acherli Pass, Kerns story submitted on 10/12/2011
I did the Acherli Pass from Kerns and found it much harder than the climbybike rating and it seemed steeper than 9%. Admitedly I was tired from already having cycled the Glaubenberg pass and it was late and I was pushing a 39/25 which is not enough for a pass such as the Acherli pass. It is a very narrow road with a sustained steep gradient which goes on and on. On the Kerns side you are in the trees for most of the way but you do get some great views of the Stanserhorn and Sarnersee.There is no sign at the top but suddenly the road descends very steeply to the Acherli hamlet and then continues dramatically down all the way to Dallenwil. I was just thankfull I did not have to come up from that side.
Glaubenberg, Entlebuch story submitted on 10/12/2011
The Glaubernberg pass''s official red cyclists sign situated just out of Entlebuch says that the road climbs (unregelmässig) which means that it actually descends for quite a bit in the middle. See the above profile.This pass suits a strong strong cyclist who can cope with rhythm changes. A trained cyclist can break the hour up this pass. My friend Al Pittar did 1h 05 from Entlebuch. I do not like rhythm changes and object to descending only to have to climb back up again, but I loved this pass. The road surface is generally very good and the valley is beautiful. It is a pass with a lot of character. Near the top is an old sign stating that the road was originally built by the army. I stopped for water there. The" biezli" at the pass hohe is also worth stopping at before savouring one of the best descents you can do to Saarnen. What a ride!
Alpe di Neggia, Vira Gambarogno story submitted on 10/12/2011
I climbed Alpe di Neggia on a hot summer evening in early July, 2011. It was a scorching climb out of Vira on the swiss lakeside rivera and I very nearly gave up and checked into one of the smart hotels with a view on the way. I couldn''t believe how steep the start was. I agree with the honorable Claudio above, that even a 39/26 is not enough! I persisted, however, and luckily soon found a water fountain and shade in the form of the thickly foliaged wayside chestnut trees. The climb went on and on, and I ran out of steam and actually had to stop a few times to recover. At that point the sun was going down and I couldn''t wait to get out of the trees to see the view. The road felt claustrophobic and frighteningly steep as I battled off the saddle upward. Finally the mirage restaurant at the top appeared,and I ended up eating and spending the night there. It is on a popular hiking route to Monte Tamaro and is actually quite good accommodation if you do not mind the baying hunting hounds. In the morning I was rewarded with a spectacular view and a fantastic descent into Italy and down to the lake again.
Chasseral, Le Pâquier story submitted on 10/19/2011
As my respected cyclist colleague Matevz above ;I did this beautiful climb by bike from St Imier enjoying the shade of the woods on the way up the subsidary col des pontins. There is a farm cafe here where you can consume some sugar for the final ascent of the magnificent Chasseral. You turn left soon afterwards, off the main Neuchatel road at point 1091m (as mentioned above) and start climbing a picturesque cow pasture by way of a narrow road which descends briefly past a dramatic cliffside before the final spectacular corners to the top of the Chasseral and the ever towering antennae which marks the highest point of the Jura in Switzerland. It is more impressive to do it from this side because you see the sensational view at the very last moment and also you can then really enjoy the fantastic descent all the way to Neuchatel whilst waving at the poor cyclists on their way up.
Ibergeregg, Rickenbach story submitted on 10/19/2011
The Ibergeregg pass from Schwyz starts right outside the backpackers Hirschen where I was staying. It''s signposted Ibergeregg and Rickenbach. After a huge hostel breakfast buffet I set off at a bright an early hour and immediately encountered a very steep gradient up to Rickenbach which did not agree very well with my breakfast. However I persevered and managed a steady pace all the way up the pass. It is a farming area and also a small ski area in winter.The road is narrow but generally with a good surface. I passed a mountain biker on the way who said that there were good trails there aswell. At the top I had a coffee in the restaurant there and then enjoyed the fast descent to Stocken and the Sihlsee.
Weissenstein, Solothurn story submitted on 10/25/2011
Short and extremely steep is an understatement. It has to be the steepest pass in Switzerland. There is a sign at the bottom which actually says 22% ! Do not attempt it without a triple or at least a compact, or better still a mountain bike compact drive. I was stupid enough to do it on my faithful Rocky Mountain with 39/26 gearing and it was not enough. The only way I could climb as I struggled upward bent over and breathing heavily off the saddle was to zig zag from side to side across the road. Luckily it is a very quiet road,actually closed to traffic on weekends. To make matters worse for me, my chain kept slipping on my worn out cogs and my worn out cleats kept clipping out of my pedals so that I fell off the bike several times whilst trying to climb this pass. An embarrassing and painful experience. I passed a group of cyclists who had given up and were walking. Maybe I should have followed their example. Near the top there is junction with a farmhouse restaurant and a big hotel on a hill which must have a fantastic view, but I did not stop till I got to the top. The other side of the Weissenstein is only,(only) 15% and it was damp and slippery in the trees, but I think it would be better to climb from this side .
Passo dellUmbrail, Sta Maria story submitted on 11/3/2011
I climbed this pass on a cool september morning with my friend and cycling mentor, big Al Pittar on his new carbon Ridley. We started early from the cyclist friendly hotel Stelvio in Santa Maria, and immediately began counting corners. I lost count but if you include the top part of the Stelvio there must be over 20 switchbacks to climb. The Umbrail is a beautiful pass with a steady gradient and a delightful valley in the middle. They were working on the road surface so it should be pristine now. We passed a herd of cattle and a road sweeper cleaning up after them. Apart from a white Porsche we saw very little traffic. After what seemed like no time at all we were on the top of the Umbrail which is rather austere and overshadowed by its big sister Stelvio. After a short break we naturally continued on up to climb this colossal monument and to continue our loop. I thoroughly recommend the Umbrail pass.
Passo del Bernina, Samedan story submitted on 11/4/2011
Like Martin from the UK, I did not enjoy this pass from Samedan, despite the magnificent views of the mountains on the right. It was busy with heavy traffic and noisy with the neighboring train line. The road is not steep but it was windy and cold.The pass is best climbed from the other side albeit much harder.
Col du Grand Saint Bernard, Sembrancher story submitted on 11/8/2011
I did this climb from Sembrancher on a hot august day in 2010 and I can honestly say it was one of the hardest climbs I have done. It is not too steep but it is too long and the sting is in the tail with some steep but aesthetic switchbacks near the very top. It took me two and a half hours of steady climbing by bike and I had to stop for water and sugar twice on the way up. It is very satisfying to reach the top however and the descent back down was fantastic.! I think the other side from italy is a better climb.
Zermatt, Visp story submitted on 1/28/2012
This climb was my ride home for many years. I have cycled and biked it so many times that I am sick of it and I take the train whenever I can. If you are competitive,(like Greg above) you could try and race the train.Take care for it is a very busy road.There are three steep sections to the climb;the last of which is the dangerously narrow private road up from Tasch.
There are some key shortcuts which help. At Neubrücke (historic bridge) turn right to Stalden on the old road; then at St Nicklaus keep right through the town on a narrow road to Mattsand; then by the Randa landslide cross the railway tracks again so that you don't have to climb unnecessarily.
When you do reach Zermatt,approaching it through the ugly industrial parking area there is not much you can do with a roadbike,except to turn around and go back to Visp.(You are not even allowed to ride up the main street.)
Incidently if you are really fast you can more or less keep up with the train until St Niklaus but after that,unless you are a pro, you are going to get dusted.The train takes an hour and 13 mins and it is getting faster as they straighten out the lines. Several years back the Tour de Suisse came up the valley but stopped in Tasch with a sprint finish!
Passo del San Bernardino, Lostallo story submitted on 6/27/2012
Passo del San Bernardo has to be one of my favorite passes in Switzerland that you can climb by bike! The best thing about it is that there is very little traffic and the quality of the tarmac is excellent. To do it from the Bellinzona side is however quite long and it can be very very hot in summer. We took the postal bus and started from Mesocco. It was 33 degree''s in Bellinzona and it was a relief to climb by bike, gradually up past green fields and alpine pastures and forests, through the village of San Bernadino, to the cooler temperatures at the top of the pass; which is next to a picturesque mountain lake and has a delightful old albergo where an eclectic mix of cyclists, motor bikers and classic car enthusiasts meet for a coffee before descending back down in different directions. This time we took the same way back to Bellinzona and what a descent it was. Definitely recommended.
San Bernardino, Lostallo story submitted on 6/27/2012
The San Bernardino pass has to be one of my favorite passes in Switzerland that you can climb by bike! The best thing about it is that there is very little traffic and the quality of the tarmac is excellent. To do it from the Bellinzona side is however quite long and it can be very very hot in summer. We took the postal bus and started from Mesocco. It was 33 degree''''s in Bellinzona and it was a relief to climb by bike, gradually up past green fields and alpine pastures and forests, through the ski village of San Bernadino, to the cooler temperatures at the top of the pass. The pass is next to a picturesque mountain lake and has a delightful old albergo, where an eclectic mix of cyclists, motor bikers and classic car enthusiasts meet for a coffee before descending back down the long and winding road in different directions. This time we took the same way back to Bellinzona and what a descent it was. Definitely recommended.
Col du Grand Colombier, Culoz story submitted on 7/10/2012
I climbed the Grand Colombier five days before the Tour de France 2012 was historically due to go over it. See the story by Jules B below. The barriers were being put up and the camper vans were already there to reserve a spot for that immortal moment when the pro''s pass by on the big day. It was easy to imagine it as we climbed by bike forever upward. It was a hot day with a cool wind at the top. The view from the top is spectacular and there is a huge cross within walking distance. The road surface was needless to say excellent and the descent very fast. There is an online club (www.felesducolombier.fr) you can join if you climb all four sides of the Grand Colombier in one day. Crazy! Along the way up there are kilometer signs for cyclists showing the gradient. The Col du Grand Colombier must have been one of the best kept cycling secrets in France, but now,no longer; after the Tour de france put it on the map.
Col du Grand Colombier, Artemare story submitted on 7/24/2012
I did this climb from a short way above Virieu-le-Petit, on the same day that Le Tour de France 2012 came hurtling over Le Col du Grand Colombier up from the classic Culoz side and over to Belllegarde. I actually retraced the route from Bellegarde to the col just in time to see them power up over the pass. See my video clip on Climbby bike! The atmosphere was electric and I was spurred on by the spectators and the police anxious to keep the road clear; so much so, that I hardly noticed the steepness of the climb. At the top I was like a kid scrambling for handouts from the publicity caravan and energetically cheering Wiggins in the yellow jersey. Afterwards I joined the hundreds of other cyclists and caravans in a friendly mass descent back down the extremely steep road to Anglefort, which is another side to climb the grand Colombier!
Alpe dHuez, Bourg dOisans story submitted on 10/9/2013
Finally Alpe d'Huez! After all these years I finally climbed by bike the famous Alpe d''Huez. And on my birthday too. What better way to celebrate, than to climb by bike, such a famous and prestigious cycling landmark,the twenty one hairpins of the Alpe d''Huez.
Was I disappointed? Certainly not. Did it live up to my expectations? Perhaps not. There are better climbs and harder climbs to be found. But I could certainly appreciate the history and I enjoyed reading the names of the cycling greats on each numbered corner and looking at all the paint on the road as I climbed. I was lucky to do it off season on a relatively quiet day and I only passed a handful of other roadies making the pilgrimage.
The climb starts very steeply, and I was not warmed up so it hurt, but as the gradient eased off I found a good cadence all the way to the top.
I was surprised by a photographer who took my photo and handed me his card. He must do very well in high season when hundreds of cyclists make the climb each day! Approaching the resort it is a little confusing as to which way to go. The thing to do is to follow all the paint on the road. To go to the official tour finish you have to turn left under a tunnel and make two more turns to the top.
Gurnigel, Rüti bei Riggisberg story submitted on 10/22/2013
I finally climbed the Gurnigel pass by bike on a clear october day. It was the weekend and it was busy with too many motorbikes and the occasional Ferrari. Although not strictly an alpine pass the Gurnigel is nevertheless a classic swiss pass and a popular outing for people wanting to escape the low cloud and see the views of the Gantrisch.
I started from Riggisberg which allows for a good warm up before the climb proper starts at the crossroads of Rutti bei Riggisberg. The first few corners were steep and I battled to find my rhythm particularly as I had shifting problems. The tarmac was excellent and I wished I was going the other way. I almost stopped at the old hotel Gurnigelbad but pushed on through the forest to a sharp corner where the top Gurnigel Berghaus restaurant is located. The actual pass is a bit further on at a field with fantastic views. After a short break I continued on down a fantastic fast descent, albeit with a narrower and slightly bumpy road all the way down the Kalte Sense valley to Fribourg. A five star ride!
Col de la Faucille, Mijoux story submitted on 8/25/2014
This is the "easier" side of the Faucille ,although if you start in Bellegarde it is another story altogether and this section is the sting in the tail.
I did this climb starting from Mijoux on a Sunday afternoon when there was a lot of traffic and I found it quite unpleasant as the road surface is not that great and there is not much space for impatient passing vehicles and roaring motorbikes. However on a quite weekday it is a good steady climb in the shade of the trees although not as spectacular as the other side from Gex.
Mont dOr, Longeville (Ovest) story submitted on 9/1/2014
This a classic climb by bike from Longville Haute near the ski and mountain bike resort of Metabief. The big challenge is the 19% finish so start slowly and save some energy and leg power and preferably have a triple or big cassette on your drive train!
I was astounded at how steep the road was after the restaurant but by zig zagging a bit I managed to stay on my bike and reached the car park albeit a little out of breath. from there you are best to leave your beloved bike and walk the last bit to the summit from where the view is breathtaking!
Col de Montvoie, Fontenais story submitted on 1/9/2014
I climbed the Col de Montvoie by bike as part of the Jura tour with Bike Switzerland. The Col de Montvoie was one of the nicest climbs we did on the tour. It is not especially difficult and has a steady 6% well surfaced road shaded by trees. At the top there is a great restaurant with a fantastic view back to Pontalier. From here you can either descend the same way or on into France and the Doubs valley on a less well sufaced road, as we did.
Col des Planches, Martigny story submitted on 10/14/2014
I had wanted to do the Col des Planches for a long time; it being a favorite of my friend and cycling mentor Big Al. I chose to do it on my mountain bike because it is notoriously steep and since I planned to continue on to the Col du Lein.
In fact it is very good tarmac almost all the way and perfectly do able on a top road bike. The road is used by the Rally du Valais. From the roundabout at Martigny I could not believe how steep and narrow it was after crossing the railway line. It certainly is an exciting road with a concrete gallery built in to a cliff and amazing views out over the Valais and the col du Forclaz leading to Chamonix.
Apart from the odd roaring Subaru and some kids on mopeds there was very little traffic. The iconic swiss postal bus passed me twice. The Trois Limites bus stop gave an amazing view out over the Grand St Bernard valley. At Chemin Dessous I was tempted to stop at the restaurant which had a little deck with a birds eye view of Martigny. I rode on continuing up through the beautiful residential area called Chemin, where there is actually a shortcut you can take, and into the picturesque forests above. I passed a charming Buvette and false top before climbing up a last steep ramp to the col.
Dent de Vaulion, Vaulion story submitted on 10/16/2014
There are several ways to reach the turnoff to the Dent de Vaulion climb. The easiest is west from the Col du Mollendruz. The longest is east from Croy on the Plateau. I found a third and very steep route from Vallorbe, north east via Le Plane. From Vallorbe I followed a mountain bike route towards the Fort and then turned up a very steep ramp signposted to the Dent de Vaulion. It was fairly good tarmac all the way. From Le Plane I had to descend a bit but I soon joined the main road just above Vaulion village and found the turn off. From there it was a hard climb past farms and a ski lift up through forests to the restaurant at the top. Fondue was the speciality, but I opted for coffee and cake before the long fast descent all the way to Croy. A highly recommended route to climb by bike!
Les Agites, Aigle story submitted on 10/23/2014
Having twice descended this road I put off climbing it for as long as possible. It is a big climb of nearly 1200m, comparable to some of the famous alpine passes. It is however,far more beautiful and interesting and well worth the effort. Make sure the military are not shooting if you do it off season! I climbed it in autumn when the vineyards looked exceptional. I climbed slowly past the striking Maison Blanche to Corbeyrier taking in the view and then up a steep ramp to Luan which is a great coffee stop. At the one way section I dutifully waited my turn and took a few photos in the spectacular tunnel. The last bit to the Les Agites signpost is easy with an amazing view. The true highpoint is just a bit further on the military road across a cattle grid and at a farm by a water fountain.
I continued on the military road to the Lac du Hongrin, and then climbed up another short but steep pass called the Pierre du Moelle to a restaurant with a fantastic view. You can also complete the lake road if it is open, to Lecherette as Andy(below) suggested, or you can continue following the Veloland route 4. Alternatively you can just turn around and descend back through the tunnel and down to Aigle marvelling at how far you climbed by bike!
Balmberg, Welschenrohr story submitted on 1/26/2015
I climbed the Balmberg by bike as part of a loop from Solothurn up the Weissenstein and then across and up over the Balmberg going steep and steepest. I reckon these are the two steepest official paved road passes in Switzerland! No kidding.
this time I took a mountain bike with slicks and plenty of gears and while it was slower it was considerably easier on the extremely steep gradient. The Balmberg is consistently steep and the road is narrow but with a good surface. The only time I had to get off my bike was when a car came down and I had to move out of the way. My back tyre lost traction and I was off. Starting again on such a steep gradient was no easy matter but somehow I managed. Boy was I glad to see the top.
Col du Lien, Volleges story submitted on 1/28/2015
I climbed the Col du Lien, which is in Valais, (not Aargau) on a warm October afternoon when the autumn colors in Valais were at their peak. It was a spectacular ride. The road to Levron, which is worth a visit, is very good. After this picturesque village the road narrows but it is still tarmac until the very last corner for less than a kilometer of dirt to the top. At the pass there is a picnic area with a small chapel and a bit further on a farm buvette. From the pass you can descend as I did all the way down to Saxon on the other side of the Col du Lein. The first section is dirt but with a little care it is alright to do it with a race bike. It was an epic descent with magnificent views out of the Rhone valley and the Pierre de Avoir and I was glad I chose the south side of the Col du Lein to climb by bike!