Col de Portet (Pyrenees)

Start Town Altitude (m) Elevation Gain (m) Length (km) Gradient (%) Difficulty Rating
St-Lary-Soulan 2215 1405 17.8 7.9 1218 ****

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Roads & Traffic

The road surface is in very good condition (although occasionally cracked in places) for the first 8.5km. From here you turn onto a gravel road, which continues until the summit. It is in good enough condition to ride on a road bike, but the added difficulties in gaining traction accentuate the gradients.

There was some speculation as to whether or not the upper part will be fully paved in time for the Col de Portet's debut in the 2018 edition of the Tour de France, or whether the organisers will leave it as a 'French Finestre'.
Shortly before the 2018 Tour de France - for better or worse - the entire climb was paved. The upper slopes are now in perfect condition.

There is little traffic on the climb.

Climb Description

Col de Portet is one of the toughest climbs in the Pyrenees. It shares the first half of its slopes with the challenging Pla d'Adet, but where Pla d'Adet starts to ease off in terms of gradients, the road splits and the foolish brave turn right towards the Col de Portet.

In addition to the gradients which (excluding the easy first kilometre) average well over 8% for the best part of 17km, the top part of the climb is made more difficulty because it is unpaved. The surface is fine for riding on a road bike, but it just takes that bit more effort to keep the tyres rolling on crunch gravel than it does on smooth asphalt!

The Col de Portet made its Tour de France debut in 2018, during the shortest stage of the race (just 65km). It instantly became a hit, with Nairo Quintana winning on the day, and with the steep slopes and delightful hairpin bends proving very popular with fans. Col de Portet shares a mountain with Col du Tourmalet and, with time, it may even rival its famous sibling's title as the hardest and best climb in the Pyrenees.

The scenery is beautiful throughout the climb, particularly on the upper slopes when you get above the trees and are afforded wonderful views of the high mountains in all directions.

Col de Portet is open as far as the Pla d'Adet turn off throughout the year. The final 9km are usually open from June to October.

Other sides

This is the only way to climb to Col de Portet (at least on a road bike!)

Nearby Climbs

Pla d'Adet
Col d'Azet
Route des Lacs
Col d'Aspin
Hourquette d'Ancizan
Col de Peyresourde
Col du Tourmalet


Col de Portet is climbed on our Best Of The Pyrenees cycling holiday.