Llano de las Animas Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

25.4
FIETS
9.7 mi
DISTANCE
6,512 ft
GAINED
12.6 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Dani Avila, tard0d lifestyle; Teun van Oostenbrugge, Puntagorda, La Palma; Alessandro Massoni, Milan, Italy

INTRO

This is one of the greatest bike climbs in the world.  Ranked #2 in the world, just a bit behind #1 Mauna Kea and slightly ahead of #3 Wuling Pass North, this is one climb where you'll find yourself saying, "Can I do it?!" First, you need to get yourself to the island paradise of La Palma (Canary Islands) which is a similar motivator to Mauna Kea (Hawaii 🕶🌞 👍).  This is one of a handful of climbs in the world worth traveling thousands of miles to experience - a true Bucket List climb.  This climb was highlighted in the Spanish cycling magazine Solo Bici.
The grade for this climb is 12.6% (14.1% climb only).  This climb has every gradient segment you will ever encounter on a climb: 8% descent, 8% at 0-5% grade, 18% at 5-10%, 27% at 10-15%, 24% at 15-20%, and a startling 15% at ≥ 20%.  The steepest 500 meters is 24% and steepest two kilometers is 20.8%.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  Narrow two lane asphalt road with no center stripe in good condition for the first 12.8 kilometers.  The road is grooved concrete (like you see on super steep roadways like Scanuppia and Passo della Forcella) which is great for traction on the way up, but rather bumpy on the descent. 

Turns to Beware of:  At kilometer 7.8 (mile 4.9), cross LP-1 (Ctra General; just to the left of the Santa Cruz/De La Palma sign) and walk your bike up a short dirt path to connect too the roadway and route above (MapStreet View). 

Traffic:  Light in the first half; minimal over the second half. 

Parking:  There are spots to park at the beginning of the climb (MapStreet View). 
Provisions:  There are locations for meals, food, and/or beverages in Pino de La Virgen at kilometer 7.3, but nowhere else along the climb (Route MapGoogle - Places to Eat in Pino de la Virgen).

Gear
:  Be sure to bring a road bike with gearing for your ability and fitness level.  A 34 compact chainring and 42t cassette is recommended for all but the absolute strongest cyclists.
Viewpoints along this climb:  At the start is Puerto de Puntagorda (Google Map + Reviews) and Llano de Las Animas at the finish (Google Map + Reviews). 

While on the Island, be sure to ride Spain #7/World #64 Roque de Los Muchacho.  This is also considered the #1 tourist attraction on La Palma (although nearly all visitors drive to the top).  There are spectacular views from the short path accessed at the finish of our route (Google Map + Reviews).

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Mar 26, 2021
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Mar 26, 2021
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Sheeeeesh, 6,500 feet in less than 10 miles?! Unreal
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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Llano de las Animas, Spain - bike parked against guardrail overlooking ocean next to rusty sign that reads "Feel the moment...it's a present!!" with a smiley face

Cycling the second hardest bike climb in the world

Llano de las Animas

Ride 15.6 kilometers (9.7 miles) gaining 2,000 meters (6,560’) at 12.6% average grade.

The gradient profile for this climb says it all - there are several segments of extraordinary steepness.  Add the length and altitude of this climb and you have the legitimate runner up to Mauna Kea for World’s Top Bike Climb.

Thank you to our extreme cycling contributors and three of the few who have ever experienced this amazing bike climb:  

  • Dani Avila, tard0d lifestyle
  • Alessandro Massoni, Milan, Italy
  • Teun van Oostenbrugge, Puntagorda, La Palma

Climb summary by our Legendary Mountains co-author, Ties Arts.

Cycling Llano de las Animas, Spain - photo college, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked next to LOVE statue, cyclist pushing bike up steep section of roadway, aerial view of roadway in mountainside

La Palma is the jewel of the Canary Islands, although it’s not really an island, it’s a miniature continent at 708+ square kilometers. Only a full continent could hold cloud forest and semi-desert, bananas and horizontal, foot-long icicles. On most days of the year, you can decide which climate you fancy and then drive to it. It’s a volcanic island, last erupting in 1949.

Cycling Llano de las Animas, Spain - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, volcanic rock along coastline, waves hitting shore, cyclist climbing on mountainous roadway, sign for Bodegas Noroeste de la Palma

The main reason for this extreme variety is the island’s height and steepness. Meet Llano de las Animas!

Cycling Llano de las Animas, Spain - bike parked on roadside overlooking Roque de los Muchacho

Roque de los Muchacho

The Llano de las Animas climb is located on a plateau in the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, the western part of the island. The plateau is unique and staged, especially in springtime, by admirable orchards of pink Tajinastes (echium wildpretii ssp trichosiphon) exclusive to the summits of La Palma and found nowhere else in the world.

This climb will test the best riders in the peloton, and you must thoroughly prepare for the beast. It is one of the world's most brutal climbs with 12.6% average grade (14.1% excluding the 1.2 km of descent) for 15.6 kilometers.  Only the few can keep their feet from the road and avoid the “Johnny Walker” (paperboy) method.

Cycling Llano de las Animas, Spain - views of Atlantic coastline at climb start

Climb begins with views of the Atlantic Ocean.

The climb starts at the Puerto de Puntagorda. A sign marked with the legendary words: “Feel the moment, it’s a present!!!” welcomes you to the second hardest road bike climb in the world.  Here you go, with the sea on your port side, you begin your climb up the mountain towards Puntagorda.

Cycling Llano de las Animas, Spain - one lane steep roadway winding its way up tropical mountainside setting

Photos by Alessandro Massoni, Milan, Italy; Teun van Oostenbrugge, Puntagorda, La Palma.

Many switchbacks and severely steep segments will test your legs. And with steep we mean in the first 2 km, four short 20% sections.  Until Puntagorda at kilometer 12.8 you average 11.3% but do have several flat spots and even descents (descents total 1.2 kilometers during this segment).  And, while the climb can be torturous, be sure to appreciate the lovely scenery surrounding you.

Start of the concrete.

Remaining:  2.9 km @18%.

The road is paved and in fair condition. Then, after Puntagorda, the real hell begins. Between rocks and pine trees the average gradient is 18%!  And the last three kilometers are on a concrete surface running through a firewall. The road is extremely steep - there is a 20.8% average two kilometer segment with sections exceeding  25% - this is the real deal!

Cycling Llano de las Animas, Spain - one-lane extremely steep grooved roadway going up mountainside

Photos by  Alessandro Massoni, Milan, Italy; Teun van Oostenbrugge, Puntagorda, La Palma.

Cycling Llano de las Animas, Spain - view looking up at cyclist riding up steep portion of roadway

Thank you Danny Avila, Madrid, Spain.

The summit hosts a water raft. Time for cooling down. The road is open for cars so if you want support make sure you have a 4x4.

Cycling Llano de las Animas, Spain - cyclist at top of mountain, rooved pavement and a water tank behind him

Thank you Alessandro Massoni, Milan, Italy