Cycling And Motorhoming Over The Klausen Pass (1948 metres)

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Friday 3 August 2018

Cycling And Motorhoming Over The Klausen Pass (1948 metres)

Were it not for a chance meeting, with another pair of cyclists at the top of the Susten Pass, we most likely would never have visited the Klausen Pass at all. Their recommendation, however, was so glowing for this particular Swiss mountain road that we couldn’t resist changing our plans and heading this way. We’re certainly glad we did.

Over the past few days we have cycled up both sides of the Klausen Pass and found them to be equally magnificent. From the west the climb begins in Altdorf and flows for 25 beautiful kilometres with an average gradient of 6.1% (and ascent of 1497 metres) which, apart from a short descent halfway through, is fairly relentless . From the east the climb begins in Linthal and is slightly easier, covering a mere 23 km with an average gradient of 5.7% (an ascent of 1300 metres) although this average hides a chunky 5km stretch of almost flat roads in the middle, making it very much a climb of two halves.

Those are the numbers anyway but of course those numbers say nothing about the spectacular scenery on display from both sides. We rode the west side from Altdorf, despite being parked almost at the top of the pass, meaning that we had to descend for 23 kilometres first and then had no option but to keep going. Lower down there are a few villages to negotiate but it is higher up that the view really opens out as the road climbs above a vast, almost sheer-sided valley decked out in green with waterfalls plunging down their sides. It was simply wonderful.

From the east we had one false start, parking in that middle flat section and descending to Linthal beneath overcast skies which promptly unleashed a biblical deluge of water the moment we pointed our bikes uphill. It took us an hour to cover the 10 kilometres back to the motorhome and there we called it a day, reasoning that the rest of the climb would be wasted if we couldn’t even see the road a few hundred metres ahead of us.

We tried again the next morning beneath clear skies, again descending to Linthal, and were very relived we waited. The opening part of the climb has exceedingly pleasant views but it is the second half which really stood out. The middle flat section runs beneath a stunning vertical rock wall towards the head of the valley where some winding, twisting switchbacks carried us the rest of the way amid the sound of cow bells. It was amazing.

An interesting fact, the east side actually runs through the area often considered to be Switzerland’s longest ‘Alp’. Apparently, in Switzerland, the term ‘Alp’ is not only used to refer to the lofty peaks as in the rest of the range, but to the high alpine pasturelands created by the now-vanished glaciers. At 8 kilometres long, the ‘flat bit’ I’ve been referring to which runs through the village of Urnerboden is the longest. There you go.

In addition to our rides over the Klausen Pass we did also spend a night at the top of the pass itself with the intention to go hiking, but in the end we were too tired and so spent a lovely morning nestled against a rock and dozing in the sun. That said, there is plenty of hiking in the area, and we did sample some by heading up to a lofty plateau with some spectacular views a few days later, but after more than a week sleeping at various spots along the pass (there are some permitted spots on the eastern side including the one we spent 5 nights at with a great river to run the dogs along) it feels like it's time to move on.

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