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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.
Climb summary by PJAMM’s John Johnson.
Visit our Death Ride page for detailed information on each route and climb in this ride.
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.
Start during the Death Ride
Aerial photo of canyon at start of climb.
Aerial Photo just leaving the canyon above.
Roadway can be seen snaking towards the pass middle of photo.
Just leaving the lower canyon near the start.
Aerial view of the giant switchbacks from mile 4.4 to 5.8 -
average 7.5% through this segment.
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).
There are two summit signs at the top of the climb.
Starting the descent of Monitor West after climbing Monitor East.
Photo - from upper left clockwise:
That’s a wrap!!