Ancares - Pan do Zarco (Galicia)
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This is the most challenging ascent of Ancares, with the steepest gradients and also an unpaved section where traction can be difficult at times. This climb will test even strong club riders.
Roads & TrafficThe road is in good condition at the start and finish of the climb; however, there is a gravel section in the middle part of the ascent. The gravel is very fine and is no problem to pass on a road bike, but traction can be slightly complicated if you like to climb mostly out of the saddle.
There is very little traffic on the climb throughout the year.
Ancares via Pan do Zarco is the most intruiging ascent of this climb. To get to the start of the climb in Murias, you will normally have to ride the first half of Ancares via Balouta; from here the paths of the two ascents diverge.
Pan do Zarco (the name comes from a small stream running close to the road), takes the more direct route and, although there are several hairpin bends to ease the gradient, it is a tough climb. The gravel surface is not as much of an issue as it sounds. It is a lot smoother than the Colle delle Finestre, for example; however, it does force you to stay in the saddle at times on steep gradients, which can really set your muscles on fire.
The Pan do Zarco ascent was used in the 2014 Vuelta a España and was the scene of a famous mano a mano between Chris Froome and Alberto Contador. The scenery here isn't quite as incredible as on the ride from Balouta, but it is not far off and is still a beautiful climb - one that comes highly recommended.
Ancares closes in winter due to snow, but is usually open from mid-April to early December.
Other sidesThis is one of three main ways to climb Ancares from the west. The climb via Balouta is our favourite. The easiest (but very long) side is via piornedo.
From the east, it is possible to climb to Ancares from Tejedo.
Puerto de Lumeras
Llano de las Ovejas