Oetztaler Gletscherstrasse (2.822m) – Austria

24 08 2009

12:05 am, 6-08-2009

Climb:    Oetztaler Gletscherstrasse (2.822m), the highest paved road in the Alps, the 2nd highest in Europe and the highest road tunnel in Europe.

                 Zwieselstein, 1.434m – Tiefenbach Tunnel, 2.822m

                 [1,388m – 14,33 km – 9,7%]

Distance & Time: 31,80 Km – 2:30h

Time going up /down (only climb): 1:55 – 0:20

Average speed up /down: 7,5 km/h  – 43,0Km/h

Max. speed (GPS) and Max. gradient over 1k: 73,8 Km/h – 13,3%

Conditions: No wind but very hot and sun exposure

Pace: Sustainable pace going up and nearly insane going down


I have started this climb from Zwieselstein (1.463m) and after 2 km of warm up I reach a crossroad with one way going to Tiefenbachgletscher and Rettenbachgletscher and the other to Sölden. No mistake possible, even if I didn’t know that the goal was the Tiefenbachgletscher ski station, the road profile of the left exit didn’t lie, there the climb would begin. 2 Km after and I was already shouting “very hard” to my priceless camera woman. The sun exposure and the gradient were taking its toll and I was already asking myself if I could finish this one. No other cyclists could be seen and slowly (between 6 and 7 km/h), corner after corner, the dense forest would only unveil more climbing asphalt. After the 7th km of the ride (and the 5th Km of the climb) finally some rest. A 500m descent would lead my backup car to a €16 toll (bikers don’t pay) and the next 800m of gradient to climb. These next 6,5 km of the climb were of a different type. Great scenery and with the goal almost on sight (from there you can already see where the Tiefenbach tunnel starts – at 2.675m altitude). At that stage of the ride I was able to overtake another biker (around 50 years hold) that was even slower than me (not by much though). When I was on his side I said: “Hard!?” to which he replied “No, it’s ok”. And I thought: “Ok?? Ok it’s at home watching TV on the couch!”. At 2.643m of altitude a cross road gives access to the Tiefenbach tunnel and there it appears the second rest of the climb, a short descent of 200m that I tried to do has fast as I could (not because of a best time purpose but to be able to gain some balance and to start pedaling later into the final climb). Finally, the tunnel that would finish at this ride goal, 2.822m of altitude. I knew that this ride would cross a tunnel but had no idea of how long and steep it would be. In fact only now, as I write this small briefing and after some research, do I realize that this was a 1,7 km and 8,5% gradient climbing tunnel. Nevertheless, the pace improved as the finish line was finally on sight – a small dot of light in the end of the tunnel. I never experienced cycling in a tunnel specially at that altitude. It was cold, humid, wet and that dot of light hardly increased with my strongest pedaling. Finally I saw the light (tunnel had finish) and there it was, the 2822m sign where another cyclist congratulated me and acknowledge that this was a hard accomplishment. My camera woman was expecting me at the Tiefenbachgletscher ski station’s parking lot at 2.787m. After a brief talk I was asked how much time I would take to get down to which I replied: “I will arrive faster than you!”    

The descent was done going back and it was crazy! Good asphalt, aerodynamic positioning on the bike and very hard on the brakes before turns. I’ve finished at Sölden 2 min before the car.


It is best to leave from Sölden it will give the climb 54m more of gradient. Also very badly timed! Though it is possible, in August leaving at midday is clearly not a good time to start the ride.







Map & Photos



















Photos captured by Cristiana Matos except the tunnel photo taken from: http://www.quaeldich.de/paesse/oetztaler-gletscherstrasse/bilder/?BildID=7773



One response

3 09 2009
Cime de la Bonette (2.802m) – France « Climbing Thoughts

[…] technical difficulties to talk about, though I’m not saying it isn’t hard. In fact, after the Oetztaler Gletscherstrasse (and its sun exposure),  it was the second hardest. It was the most time consuming (2:14h) and the […]

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