Monitor Pass East Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Monitor Pass East


Toughest leg of the five pass annual Markleeville Death Ride.

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Climb Summary

Cycling Monitor Pass East - aerial drone photo of long straight stretch of road looking west from the pass

Cycling Monitor Pass, home of the Death Ride - an epic Sierra Nevada bike climb.

Photo - Aerial view west from location directly above Monitor Pass markers.

California Top 10 Most Epic Climb 

Visit our Death Ride page for detailed information on each route and climb in this ride.

Cycling Monitor Pass East and West - PJAMM cyclists at finish of Death Ride holding up 5 fingers for 5 passes - skeleton  

Monitor Pass East and West are 2 of the Death Ride’s 5 climbs.

This climb begins about 22 miles southeast of the tiny Sierra town of Markleeville (home of the annual 5 pass/15,000' Death Ride).  Ride 9.5 miles gaining 3,348’ to elevation 8,335 at 6.5% average grade.

Climbing Monitor Pass East  by bike - beginning of climb - highway sign for Markleeville


    Climbing Monitor Pass East  by bicycle - Death Ride cyclists descending through canyon

Start during the Death Ride

Climbing Monitor Pass East  by bicycle - Death Ride cyclists descending through canyon

Aerial photo of canyon at start of climb.

Climbing Monitor Pass East  by bicycle - Death Ride cyclists descending through canyon

Aerial Photo just leaving the canyon above.

Roadway can be seen snaking towards the pass middle of photo.

Bicycle ride up Monitor Pass East  - cyclist on roadway with view east of valley and mountains

Just leaving the lower canyon near the start.

Bike climb of Monitor Pass East  - aerial drone photo of Hwy 89

Aerial view of the giant switchbacks from mile 4.4 to 5.8 -

 average 7.5% through this segment.

Bike ride up Monitor Pass East  - view of road and hillside

Around mile 7 (2 ½ more to go).

While the climb does have some sustained pitches in the 8-9% range, for the most part it is a smooth 5-7% climb from bottom to top. The first half of the ride covers about 1,650' at 6.9% and the second half about 1,550' at 6.4%.

The roadway surface is exceptional and while this is a state highway and traffic does whiz by at considerable speed, there is a decent bike lane for most of the climb and a light to medium flow of traffic. The descent is smooth and fairly straight once a couple of large hairpins are negotiated at the top. The landscape is desert-like, similar to the high desert of Arizona. However, the western side of Monitor Pass and Markleeville area is softer in climate and appearance (alpine forest, grassy meadows, bordered by dramatic sierra cliffs/mountains).

Monitor Pass

Biking up Monitor Pass East  - cyclist riding west at pass - view west

There are two summit signs at the top of the climb.

Cycling Monitor Pass East  - bicyclist riding west as the pass - roadway and mountains 

Starting the descent of Monitor West after climbing Monitor East.


Photo - from upper left clockwise:

Ebbetts Pass East; Monitor Pass West; Ebbetts Pass West. and Monitor Pass East.

That’s a wrap!!