After mocking this year’s Tour de Suisse route: Rant: The Tour de Suisse Route Sucks, I thought I’d better have a look first hand at the the two Hors Categorie climbs that will be raced this sunday as part of the final Tour de Suisse stage 9.
I cycled the loop that the pros will end with on Sunday, although I started at the bottom of Glaubenberg pass, the second of the two big climbs that the pros will do.
It’s a beautiful and quiet climb, with incredible views of the lake below and big mountains in the distance – even the towering Jungfrau and the tip of the Eiger. Lots to see – accompanied by the sound of cow bells the entire ride. Swiss army hikers and even Fabian Cancellara (see above)?? For me, in Tour de France parlance, it’s a tough Category 1 climb. Not high alps, but lots of fun.
Swiss Toll road:
It’s a well surfaced VERY fast descent on a typical single lane Swiss road. I do worry about the pros descending as there are perhaps six very rough cattle guards. A few have tricky but smooth ways to sidestep, although all were fenced off. Hopefully the TdS will remove these fences. I can’t imagine crossing these at high speeds and surviving.
After the descent, it’s a short jaunt along the only remotely busy road until the turn off to Glaubenbielen Pass. For the TdS, the pros will climb Glaubenbielen Pass, then Glaubenberg Pass, then return to the Glaubenbielen road but only climb as far as the ski station of Sorenberg – it is marked on the profile below.
This climb is the most beautiful of the two, but also the easiest – not remotely hors categorie – maybe easy category 1. The tough stuff is above Sorenberg, and it’s the best stretch of the entire route in terms of cool views, cool hairpins, etc.
As the monument says, this great road through the mountains was built by the Swiss military during and finished just after WW2:
The other side is much steeper than the side I climbed – a future project. It’s a well surfaced, narrow, crazy descent – that soon gives great views of the Sarnen See (lake) below.
In total, this 84 kilometre loop had a little more than 2000 metres of climb on quiet, well surfaced, roads with fantastic views the entire way. As a cyclotourist loop I’ll give it 9/10.
I’m now looking forward to the TdS stage this sunday.
Looks like beaucoup fun! I esp like 2nd last photo.
Hi Will, great website, really enjoyed reading about your adventures!
I’m traveling to Switzerland for business in a few weeks and have a day at the end of the trip for a ride. I’d really like to ride a ‘classic’ Hors Categorie climb and was thinking of doing the Glaubenberg and Glaubenbielen passes, but am also thinking of St Gotthards pass (first category though I believe). I have a car and so will be able to drive to wherever before riding.
If you had a single day to cycle, any advice on which col/pass you would recommend?
Thanks for all the effort you put into the website!
Where will you be staying on business?
I’ll recommend some things that are most convenient. Also, some of the huge passes still haven’t opened and may not open soon.
The above climbs in this post are “very nice” but there are more spectacular climbs in Switzerland.
Or here’s an idea: Single day and it sounds you want challenging …. I would suggest Grosse Scheidegg. Try and do both sides. Super difficult and unbelievably beautiful. Use the search box above and you’ll find a few posts on that climb. You could start in either Meiringen or Grindelwald — both work very well. If planning on staying in a hotel in the area Grindelwald is a better choice just for the views.
Many thanks for the reply, Will. I’m staying at Zofingen, in the northern part of the country. I’ll take a look at the Grosse Scheidegg page 🙂
Thanks again, Ryan