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Col de Pailhères - Usson Les Bains     open your myclimbbybike to add this climb

14.9 km  2001 m  (1207 m)  8.1 %


The Col de Pailhères is situated in Midi-Pyrenees. Starting from Usson Les Bains, the Col de Pailhères ascent is 14.9 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1207 heightmeters. The average percentage thus is 8.1 %. If you want to climb the Col de Pailhères, you can find more information on how to train to climb the Col de Pailhères here.

Since 2005, the Col de Pailhères will be/was climbed in the following big tour stages:
Tour de France 2007 :  Mazamet > Plateau-de-Beille on 22/07/2007

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Climbbybike difficulty score (138.9)
Ranking France

Col de Pailhères via Usson Les Bains popularity rank : 90

The Col de Pailhères has been climbed by 21 climbbybikers. It is ranked No. 90 as the most climbed climb in the world.
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Col de Pailhères via Usson Les Bains: 14 reviews

Rob & Pete

Robert and Peter arrived in Ax-les-Thermes on a sunny and warm day to take on the Mighty Col de Pailhères. The Felts F5&6 were untethered from the car and made ready for the start. As we train together all year this was going to be a battle all the way to the top. Porridge was cooked up in the back of the car and we were ready for the off. The first few Ks are fairly easy and we stayed together. However, as the road kicked up a touch, Robert made his move and pushed on. The middle part of this climb lulls you into a sense of relaxation as some of it appears to go downhill but beware, the top half of the climb is really tough. After the first four or so Ks the road is virtually traffic-free, except for the odd limousine cow wandering aimlessly across the road or trying to climb a sheer rock face! The weather was kind to us, very warm as Robert made it to the summit first and waited a while for Peter to arrive. A quick chat, drink and nosh at the top and we set off back down to Ax. What started out as a fairly leisurely descent turned into an eyeballs out ride as we were joined by a Frenchman who was no slouch at descending, though he could not shake us off – hard as he tried. The trio arrived safely at the bottom, somehow.

Patrick Cusack

I rode to this from Pamiers trying to emulate my tdf heroes!! I passed over a Cat 2 Col after the Garmin sent me the wrong way and added 20k''s! I was due to finish on Ax-3-Domaines. It was a real murky August day, only adding to the aura.

In a thick mist I rolled into Usson, making the derelict baths even more eerie, and the road more foreboding. As I departed the gradient increased and doesn''t relent until just before Mijanes. (Mind the loose chipping here). It drops for about 1k, then BOOM! 8,9,10,''s unrelenting! Then another brief respite, before it saps every last idea of aspiration from your legs. No visible summit to inspire your bravery, just the thinning air to further immerse you into your own mortality!

I bonked big time! I was gutted, but in reflection to have climbed this Queen of Cols, I feel pretty proud. Needless to say I''ve left 3-Domaines for another year.

After climbing this I can see why the pro''s dope!

No cafe, till the descent into Ax - cash only. Careful going down, there''s lots fallen debris from above.


Cracking ride. In 2013 tour it surprised some. It''s not easy! Loads of switchbacks and some steep sections. Don''t ask when will the summit come. It never comes. It just keeps going and going. We passed masses of snow in mid June. Don''t go too hard as the last couple of k''s are the toughest. It is very very cold at the summit. The descent is awesome and beautiful. Pair it with col de choiula just outside ax les thermes on a loop from usson les bains. Stunning


This is one of my local rides and I do it 3 or 4 times a year. I will of course have a local bias, but I think this is one of the most under-rated climbs in the Pyrenees, if not all of France. It is tough - consistently and unrelentingly steep. It is quiet, apart maybe from tourist traffic in the middle of summer, but then you get a lot of applause from said tourists at the top. It is ruggedly attractive terrain, with different moods and aspects, especially if you start back in Axat (12 km before Usson-les-Bains). The start is sudden, steep and quite brutal – it is over 9% for almost 2 km before the respite of a km or so going through Rouse. The gradient steadily steepens again to Mijanes after which the gradient virtually never drops below 8%. The section before the Mijanes ski-station feels interminable and can be very hot as there is no tree cover here. There is one last "easy" section (only 7%) for half a klik before you hit the hairpins. Although from here on up it is consistently 8-9% (more in places), climbing through all the hairpins is quite exhilarating and so this part never feels as bad. In my opinion, this climb, although not quite as long as Mont Ventoux, the Galibier or the Tourmalet, is a tougher proposition.

Jonathan Shannon

It is a very difficult climb, especislly when you factor in the hi winds, poor road conditions, and cold weather, even in August. A real leg breaker, especislly if one arrives having done other nesrby cols. Wow!!!

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