Grimselpass (both sides) and Furkapass


I was supposed to cycle Grimselpass in the Alpenbrevet last month but an avalanche closed the route. But it’s now re-opened, and I was determined to squeeze some more high Alps cycling in before the weather turns. And these Central Switzerland climbs are as good as it gets.

Furka Grimselpass Dam Start - Grimselpass Grimselpass

Grimsel is a big, long climb – with uneven grading, sometimes very steep, sometimes false flat, but relentless.

The top stretches are beautiful, first approaching a huge lower dam as the road climbs to a large lake (3 dams in 2 pics above). After passing the lake, it climbs past two more dams, above another lake and up to the pass itself – beside yet another lake.


There are quite a few tunnels up Grimsel. But the two biggest can be avoided by following the old paved cliff road – fine for a road bike. Three others can also be avoided by the old cliff road …. but they are not paved – but fine if not on a road bike.

The other side of Grimselpass is one of the most amazing places to cycle:

View of Furkapass from Grimselpass

The route first descends straight down via several huge hairpins. At Gletsch, I joined the route for the last 10 kms up to Furka pass (the profile includes the entire climb). In the photo above, Furkapass is in the far distance at the top right.

Grimsel Hairpins above! View of Rhone Glacier (source of the Rhone) Furkapass Lake at Grimselpass View of Grimselpass hairpins from Furkapass

Nearing the top of Furkapass is the Rhone Glacier – the start of the Rhone river that runs through Switzerland and France to the Mediterranean:

Rhone glacier

Furkapass featured in the car chase scene in The James Bond film “Goldfinger.”

After reaching Furka and enjoy the views of Grimselpass hairpins, I doubled back to Meiringen. It is possible to make this a very challenging loop by descending to Andermatt and then climbing Susten pass – see here for details.

The entire route was 98 kilometres, so I rode arounde Meiringen briefly to hit a metric century. 😉

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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. This route is amazing and I actually drove on Sept 12th. I am thinking about heading up to cycle this same route from Meiringen this weekend but I am a bit worried about the conditions. Do you think it would still be safe enough to do so late in the year? Thanks KD

  2. Sure, it’s possible to do this late in the year – but:

    1. I’d avoid if there is precipitation as it probably will be snow …. and the road could be slick.

    2. Bring very warm clothes (leggings, full fingered gloves, several layers, etc.) for the descent. If you’re not used to cold weather descending, be careful – really overdress and maybe consider something a little lower first.

    3. Check this link to ensure the roads are open:

    FYI, there is a weather station near the top – which is worth looking at before riding. Good luck

  3. Thanks for the great advice Will. I got up and did the ride last Saturday and it was an amazing route! I was lucky and scored some pretty beautiful weather and at times had great visibility which makes it all so much more worthwhile. There was still quite a bit of snow around so the descents were a tad chilly when the sun was hiding so lucky I had the full fingered gloves. Cheers KD

  4. KD

    Congrats, yes it’s an amazing area when the weather is good.

    If you get a chance starting also from Meiringen, you should try the climb to Grosse Scheidegg. (link at bottom of post above). Unbelievably beautiful and I just read that it will be in the 2011 Tour de Suisse.


  5. Hi Will!
    I have been meaning to write for a while…but was somehow always too busy cycling! 😉
    But this time, I really had to write. I cycled Grimselpass last Saturday (as part of a ride from Obersward to Spiez) and it was definitely my best ride EVER! It was quite cold, but as I (also) come from Canada, I managed!
    When I arrived in Geneva a few months ago a colleague referred me to your website, and that was the best tip ever. I owe you most of my best rides! I’ve only started cycling this summer so this is all new to me (but I can already foresee many years of cycling in front of me!).
    I’m hoping to cycle a few more passes before it gets too cold!
    Thanks again,
    P.S: I cycled la Barillette a few weeks ago with a guy named Brian who told me he knew you. I think you might have already cycled together, but I don’t remember very clearly what he told me…

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