Llano de las Ovejas (Castilla-y-León)
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Llano de las Ovejas is three climbs in one, with a very short descent following the first two passes. It is a significantly harder climb than the average gradient suggests, with a total of five kilometres averaging over 10%. The most challenging sections come after the two villages in the first half of the climb.
Roads & TrafficThe road is in fairly good condition. It is fully paved, but is cracked and bumpy in places. This makes for a slightly uncomfortable descent at times, but it is no problem going uphill.
There is very little traffic on the climb throughout the year.
Llano de las Ovejas from Ponferrada is probably our favourite climb in Castilla-y-León, but it is quite difficult to explain why. The lower slopes are often uncomfortably hot, while the upper section of the climb is a barren wilderness, with not even a tree to be found.
It is this sense of isolation and tranquility, however, which also gives Llano de las Ovejas a real appeal to cyclists. There are no cars here and no villages in the last 16km, just a road and some farm animals. Yet this is a proper climb; it has more elevation gain than Lagos de Covadonga, Col d'Aubisque and Angliru.
In fact, Llano de las Ovejas is three climbs in one. Before reaching the unmarked plateau at the top of the climb, you climb over the Morredero and Portillinos passes. The Vuelta a España has never ventured beyond the ski station at El Morredero - citing logisitcal reasons and a lack of space at the top (something which is hard to believe for anyone who has made it that far). The best part though is the final few kilometres. It is rare to find a plateau in Europe at such a high altitude and, with the thin air, you almost feel like you are flying at times given how much faster you can go than at sea level.
Llano de las Ovejas won't win any beauty contests; but it is an unconventionally attractive climb; it's slopes are barren, but colourful. And for the cyclist, its gradients and length make it a worthy challenge.
You can climb as far as El Morredero throughout the year, as the road is cleared to the ski station during winter. Access to Llano de las Ovejas is usually open from mid-April to late November; but this varies depending on weather conditions.
Other sidesLlano de las Ovejas can also be climbed from the south - starting from the small village of Nogar
Nearby ClimbsPuerto de Lumeras
Cruz de Hierro