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Hautacam is even more challenging than the average gradient suggests, as there are several kilometres at 9% and 10% gradient, which include significant stretches at 14%.
Roads & TrafficThe road surface is in very good condition throughout.
There is very little traffic on this climb.
Hautacam is another of the legendary Tour de France climbs in the Pyrenees. Unlike many of the other famous climbs in the region, it is a relative newcomer to the Tour, having first featured in 1994. It quickly made up for lost time, however, and in 1996 it was the scene of one of the most infamous stages in the Tour's history. Bjarne Riis won the day in emphatic fashion - putting pressure on the previously unbeatable Miguel Induraín. It was, however, the style and manner of Riis' victory which live long in the memory - a performance often held up as one of the most extreme examples of the benefits that could be achieved through doping.
Although Hautacam is undoubtedly a tough climb, fortunately you do not have to dope to have fun climbing it. The gradients are consistently steep, but not so steep that it becomes impossible to ride at a comfortable cadence (assuming you have fitted a largish cassette!). Where Hautacam really shines though is in its beautiful green scenery. The climb begins in the fairly busy Pau valley, but quickly ascends into tranquil countryside. By the top of the climb it appears as though you have transformed into a different land - as the scenery becomes increasingly rural and more like the National Park which lies to the south.
The tranquility and scenery is spoilt slightly by the vast car park and ski station which greets you at the top of the climb, but the ride up more than compensates for that. From Hautacam it is possible to continue climbing slighlty higher to La Tramassel - another car park situated 100m above the main one.
In theory Hautacam is open throughout the year to enable access to the ski resort. However, in reality it is often closed in the middle of spring between the end of the ski season and the start of summer. Short term closures are also possible in winter while snow is cleared, and it is a bad time to be climbing it anyway due to the cold. We recommend climbing Hautacam from June to October.
Other sidesThis is the only way to climb Hautacam.
Nearby ClimbsCol d'Aubisque
Col du Tourmalet
Cirque de Gavarnie