Page Contributor(s): Ron Hawks, USA; Bruce Hamilton/Stacy Topping, USA
Ride 14.5 kilometers gaining 1,352 meters at 9.4% average grade.
Mannlichen is in a class by itself - it is the only Top 100 Hardest Cycling Climb that is also a World Top 10 Most Scenic Bike Climb. Ranking as the world’s 96th hardest bike climb and the world number 3 most scenic, the little known Mannlichen cycling climb is one which should be on everyone’s must-do world cycling climbing bucket list.
The climb is in the direct shadow of the greatest peaks and formations of the Bernese Alps.
The Bernese Alps are one of the most prominent ranges of the Alps and includes the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains.
The climb begins by crossing the bridge in Grindewald and almost immediately starting an unrelenting and terribly challenging climb to the Mannlichen ski resort. Grindelwald is an extremely popular recreation and tourist area in central Switzerland with a population of about 3,800. The town dates back to the 11th century. German is the primary language of the majority of the population of Grindewald.
The roadway is narrow throughout but in excellent condition and with very little traffic which is slow moving when it is encountered. The end of the roadway is also serviced by a gondola that ends at Berghaus Mannlichen which is a nice and highly regarded hotel/restaurant.
There is no escaping the gradient or the cattle on this climb.
We encounter grazing cattle and gondolas nearly the entire climb as we ride in view of the greatest formations of the Bernese Alps.
The Bernese Alps are ever present to our left as we climb.
The unmistakable and breathtaking Eiger.
Without the Eiger, this is an exceptional climb, with it the climb is simply incomparable. The Eiger, along with the Matterhorn, is the most famous and recognizable mountains of the Swiss Alps. How many mountains have an entire suspense movie named in their honor (The Eiger Sanction, starring Cling Eastwood, 1975). We ride in view of the famed north face of the Eiger, the biggest north face in the Alps.
There is a 200 meter gravel ascent to the observation platform above the ski area. The final 50 meters is impossible on a road bike - bring mountain bike or hiking shoes to get to the top because on a clear day this is one of the great viewpoints of the world.
The north face of the Eiger was referred to as the “last problem” of the alps and is considered one of the most dangerous mountaineering ascents of the Alps and world. It was first climbed in 1938 and there have been over 60 deaths related to attempts to climb the north face since that time, resulting in the nickname Mordwand (murderous wall).
At the viewing platform, there are photo plaques pointing out the Bernese mountain peaks that surround Mannlichen.
The steepest kilometer of the climb averages 14% beginning at kilometer 10.2 and there is a 500 meter stretch in that segment that averages 15.7%.
John, Luke and our photographer, Javier.
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