World's Top 10 Hardest Cycling Climbs

#1
Mauna Kea
USA, HI
#2
Al Jaadah Pass
Saudi Arabia
#3
Babusar Pass
Pakistan
#4
Apagua
Ecuador
#5
Baniamr Aquabah Pass
Saudi Arabia
#6
Llano de las Animas
Spain
#7
El Torneado
Ecuador
#8
La Muerte
Ecuador
#9
Pozza San Glisente (Dos dell'Asino)
Italy
#10
Scanuppia
Italy

Climb List: World's Hardest Climbs
(sort by distance, difficulty, elevation and more)

Cycling the World's Hardest Climbs

Top 10 World Bike Climbs - Mauna Kea - visitor center sign - altitude sickness, danger 

World’s #1 Bike Climb -- Mauna Kea

Sign at the Visitor Center: Still 8.3 miles to go at 10.4% average grade to 13,712’.

PJAMM Cycling has personally documented all of the World’s Top 10 Bike climbs.  This has been quite the adventure that has taken us to four different continents to document the world’s top 10 climbs, which we accomplished in May, 2019.   In reverse order, the following is a summary of the Top Hardest World Bike Climbs as defined by the FIETS index (developed by the Dutch cycling magazine Fiets)[1]:

11 OF 10 (Bonus because it is so amazing)

DEATH ROAD, BOLIVIA

  

Cycling the Death Road, Bolivia

Ride 39 miles gaining 11,640’ to elevation 15,200’ at 5.5% average grade.

The Death Road is our all-time favorite climb by road bike.  We included the Death Ride in our 2017 South American Cycling Adventure (also included were Alto de Letras, Colombia, Atacama, Chile and Uturuncu, Bolivia). We spent three days on the Death Road and enjoyed every minute of it -- this is the cycling adventure of all time!

Post Card Corner - Death Road

Bike ride and cycling Top World Bike Climbs  - pjamm cyclist holding up bike at La Cumbre summit sign

Atop one of the highest roads in the world.

#10 OF 10

SCANUPPIA, ITALY

 Cycling Top World Bike Climbs  - Scanuppia road sign 45% - road and trees 

Ride 4.5 miles gaining 4,200’ at 18% average grade.

Warning:  File:Philippines road sign R3-4.svg - Wikimedia CommonsThe sign at beginning says no bikes.File:Philippines road sign R3-4.svg - Wikimedia Commons

This is a KILLER bike climb - extremely steep (although we believe the sign above may be overstated).  Scanuppia averages 18 percent grade for its entire 7.3 kilometers.  We have ridden this nearly impossible bike climb twice and even with a 28t chainring and 42t cassette on a high-end stiff cross bike, we barely managed it. On the steeper segments (steepest 500m is 24%; our Garmin read 30-32% in a couple of spots) it is very difficult to keep the front wheel from lifting off the pavement.

#9 OF 10

POZZA SAN GLISENTE (DOS DELL’ASINO), ITALY

Ride 9.1 kilometers gaining 1,411 meters at 15.7% average grade.

Photo from Jiri Fikejz, Choceň, Pardubický kraj, Česká republika.

#8 OF 10

LA MUERTE, ECUADOR 

 Cycling top world bike climb La Muerta, Ecuador, cyclist on road surrounded by forest. 

Ride 45 miles gaining 14,670’ to elevation 13,595’ at 5.4% average grade.

This beast is 72.5 kilometers up to 4,144 meters at 5.4% average grade.  Unfortunately, on the day we climbed this one by bike, the weather conditions were horrendous and we have no scenic shots from our ride.

#7 OF 10

EL TORNEADO, ECUADOR 

Cycling El Torneado - World #9

Ride 32 kilometers gaining 2,716 meters at 8.4% average grade.

Some of the world’s hardest climbs are in the Andes Mountains of South America, and this is surely one of them.  As with the other top 10 World Bike Climbs in Ecuador (3 in all), this climb is through extremely lush surroundings and finishing in foul weather - nice at the bottom, bad at the top!

#6 OF 10

LLANO DE LAS ANIMAS, SPAIN

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

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

Dani Avila, Spain, tard0d lifestyle.

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.

Start of the concrete.

Remaining:  2.9 km @18%.

#5 OF 10

BANIAMR AQUABAH PASS, SAUDI ARABIA

Cycling Baniamr Aquabah Pass, Saudi Arabia - photo collage, yellow road sign reads "Slow Very Dangerous Bends," two PJAMM Cyclist stand next to each other looking down over mountainside, view looking down shows road snaking up mountainside, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

Ride 5.9 miles gaining 5,014’ at 16.3% average grade!!

This is an undiscovered climb in Saudi Arabia’s rugged Asir Mountains that is extremely challenging.  

Cycling Baniamr Aquabah Pass, Saudi Arabia - photo collage, 
Garmin reads 27%, hairpin curves on well paved mountain roadway, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

Any time you rank anything, there will always be a first and a last.  Well, this one is a big time first for steep grades.  Baniamr is home to the steepest five miles (18%), five (20.6%) and 10 kilometers (18%) on earth.  Thus, the Asir Mountains are home to the steepest cycling segments in the world.  Rdom to the south has steepest mile bragging rights, at 26% average grade (Top 10 Steepest Mile).

#4 OF 10

APAGUA PASS, ECUADOR

photo collage, road sign reads "Bienvenidos a Apagua"; green mountain lake, cyclist rides on roadway surrounded by green forest

Cycling Apagua

Ride 41 miles gaining 11,854’ at 5.4% average grade.

A World Top 20 Road Bike Climb.

This is the hardest climb in Ecuador and that is saying something - Ecuador has an unparalleled 3 climbs in the World Top 10 - more than any other country.  After finishing the climb, be sure to continue on to the magnificent Laguna Quilotoa (a crater lake) 24 kilometers north of Apagua.

#3 OF 10

BABUSAR PASS, PAKISTAN

Chilas to Babusar, Pakistan - Three cyclists ride on two lane roadway in high desert landscape

Ride 26 miles gaining 10,354’ to elevation 13,688’ at 7.5% average grade.

Pakistan’s hardest bike climb and the world’s #3.  The Babusar pass is one of the highest paved road passes in Pakistan. The high-reaching pass is at an altitude of 4173m. The Babusar Valley comes on the road passing from Kaghan Valley.  This road soars through Naran, Batakundi, Besal, to the Babusar top -- the highest point of the valley.  The road  goes down to Chilas (altitude 1265m), situated on the Indus Riverbank surrounded by barren high scale mountains.  The temperature is pretty hot down there as well.

Chilas to Babusar, Pakistan - photo collage, Photos by Muhammad Hamza Niazi, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, sign for Babusar, Naran, Cyclists climb on highway roadway in high desert landscape

#2 OF 10

Al Jaadah Pass, SAUDI ARABIA

Ride 7.7 miles gaining 5,820’ at 14.5% average grade.

The first of 2 top 5 world bike climbs in the Asir Mountains.  This climb is undiscovered by the cycling world (no Stava segments when we climbed it in November, 2021 (here is our segment - Al Jadaah (PJAMM World #2).

The climb is one of the most epic we have ever done - it is extraordinarily challenging, very scenic and untouched by cycling wheels.

We had the great honor of riding with Saudi Arabia’s first women's national cycling champion (2020; and reigning champ 2021), Ahlam Zaid (center of above photo).

#1 OF 10

MAUNA KEA, BIG ISLAND, HAWAII

TOP RANKED CLIMB IN THE UNITED STATES AND WORLD

Cycling Top World Bike Climbs - road, volcano, clouds on Mauna Kea 

40% less oxygen at 13,000’ than sea level . . .

. . . makes 12% feel like 20+.

The hardest bike climb in the World is Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii, and is also by far the most difficult bike climb in the world.  Mauna Kea has it all: length (42.5 miles), altitude (sea level to nearly 14,000’), and gradient (the last 10 miles are from 8,120’ to 13,779’ at 10.7% average grade).

Enough said  😟😟

Top US Bike Climbs - Mauna Kea elevation profile

The gradient ramps up at mile 30 and averages 10.4% for the final 12 miles from 7,200’ to 13,811’ at the finish.

We have climbed Mauna Kea 4 times - 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018.  

Cycling Top World Bike Climbs - road, volcano, clouds on Mauna Kea

Diving into the clouds at 13,700’


[1] This website is primarily about climbing by bike. We have chosen to use an objective index to quantify and rank climbs - The Fiets Index (developed by the Dutch cycling magazine Fiets).

The actual formula is: [H^2/D*10] + (T-1000:1000; but only if greater than 0)

H = ending elevation minus starting elevation in meters.

D = total distance traveled in meters.

T = Height in meters.

Note: Only add T-1000 if that number is greater than zero. ​