Hautacam

Cyclist reaching summit of Hautacam in the French Pyrenees

The Tour de France has held a summit finish at Hautacam no less than five times with Vincenzo Nibali the last Tour champion to claim stage honours in 2014. For a climb which is just over 14kms long, it sure packs a lot of punch. From Argeles Gazost you can look across to the mountain peak looming large, and it is one you won’t quickly forget once you have reached the summit.

Undulating gradients

The climb is located just 3 kms from the centre of Argeles Gazost so we recommend riding a bit further along the valley floor beforehand in order to warm up the climbing legs. What the Hautacam lacks in length it makes up with sheer steep and relentless ramps. The gradient is always forever changing which means it is hard to get into a smooth climbing rhythm to settle into on the climb. One kilometre is 6% the next will hover over 10% and it continues this way for the entire climb. Whilst there is a brief downhill section partway along the climb, there are also sustained ramps of over 15% so make sure you keep this in mind and measure your efforts.

Stunning rural vistas

Whilst you may be cursing the unrelenting steep gradients on the climb, make sure you take a moment to enjoy the stunning views afforded to you as you begin to rise in altitude. The views down across the Vallée du Lavedan are spectacular and will hopefully provide you with some distraction as you tick the kilometres off. Green lush pastures meld into the surrounding peaks leaving you with a true sense of the tranquil beauty and ‘rustic’ feel of the Pyrenees.

Reaching the summit

The third last kilometre is by far the hardest and averages well over 10%. After this last test of the legs the final two kilometres are relatively easier and your goal of the summit will be upon you. The summit itself is a rather uninspiring ski station car park. We do recommend heading on further up the road for another 1.5kms until you reach the very top known as the Col du Tramessel. Given you have come this far what is another bit of climbing! Once at the top enjoy the views and the fast descent back the way you came to Argeles Gazost.

Quick Stats

Distance: 51.1km / 31.8mimi

Start elevation: 470m / 1,541ft

Max elevation: 1,635m / 5,364ft

Metres climbed: 1,513m / 4,965ft

Metres descended: 1,513m / 4,965ft

Categorised climbs: 1

Cycling the road to Hautacam climb in eh French Pyrenees

The top of the Hautacam with views across the mountain range.

Food and water

There is the opportunity to replenish food and water as you pass through the villages along the Hautacam climb. Whilst the climb itself isn’t long it is steep so a quick stop to refuel may be in order.

Highlights

  • The climb of Hautacam has some of the most stunning vistas of the Valée du Lavedan.

  • Choosing to continue up the climb for a further 1.5kms means you get to tick off two climbs in the one go – Hautacam and Col de Tramassel!

Two cyclists having their photo taken at the Col de Tramassel summit 1635m

The Col de Tramassel is only an extra 1.5km /1mi from the top of Hautacam and worth the extra altitude to get to.

The Hautacam valley views as seen while cycling in the French Pyrenees

Hautacam & Col du Tramassel

Length: 14.7km / 9.13mi

Average gradient: 7.97%

Start point: D13 / D100 intersection

Elevation at top: 1,635m / 5,364ft

Pyrenees cows grazing by the mountain

Pyrenean cows are often seen grazing on the slopes of the Hautacam.

Female bike rider at the Hautacam cycling summit sign

It may not be as long as the Tourmalet but with an average gradient of 8% the Hautacam will sting the legs.

Male cyclist riding in the French Pyrenees on the Col du Tramassel

On the Hautacam climb you will feel like you are riding towards the heavens, with the valley way down in the distance

Views from the cycling climb of the Col du Tramassel in the French Pyrenees

The view from the top of the Col de Tramassel.

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Looking down a layer of cloud in the valley from the summit of Col du Tourmalet

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