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02-12-2022 | Herman Nekkers
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The highest climbs of Europe #19 - Hochwurtenspeicher

In our list of the highest climbs of Europe, only one can be be the toughest. And without any doubt this is the Hochwurtenspeicher. A true beast. The climb is also known as the Weisssee. Location: Mölltaler gletsjer in Carinthia, Austria, which you might know as a ski resort. Part 2 or our series 'the highest climbs of Europe'. 

HochwurtenspeicherPictureGabor Györgyi


Height:2421 meter

When talking about the toughest climbs in Europe, names such as the the Mortirolo, Zoncolan and Angliru are often mentioned. But don't underestimate Austria. Often, these are dead ends, and their names are usually unknown amongst the general public. Common properties: desolated, reasonably good road quality, steep to super steep, eventually leading to a glacier or mountain refuge. The gradients are unmatched. In the ranking at Cyclingcols containing climbs with the most kilometers above 10%, the Hochwurtenspeicher tops the list. Out of the 25 entries, 13 are located in Austria, including the first 8. 

'Speicher' means water reservoir - in other words, a lake. Starting from Ausserfragant, the first 2 km are get off to a rough start. From there, covering just a few relatively easy kilometers, you'll reach the parking lot of the Mölltaler Gletscherbahn. From there, you'll ride over a private road which is closed for cars. It's vertical tarmac right away: 4 kilometers averaging at a massive 11,4%. But this average gradient is a little misleading, since there are outliers up to 22%. There isn't much to see, since you're riding through a forest. Besides, there are two tunnels of which the first one is pitch dark. Don't forget to bring a light, otherwise you will not see a thing. 

After the second tunnel, you can relax for a bit. But not for long, since the next wall is coming. 3,2 kilometers with an average gradient of 13%. On the positive side: you can enjoy the marvellous view on the Lord of the Rings-like mountain range. Cycling in a pristine surrounding, without traffic and other people. What more can you wish for? The last 6 km are going up and down. Climbing means: steep. At the end of this special journey, you'll reach the reservoir, which is desolated outside of the ski season.

The descent resembles a black ski slope in many ways. Extremely steep, parts of gravel on the road, drainage gutters, game grids and a dark tunnel. Pay close attention, and make sure your brakes are in good nick. Don't take risks and stop if your hands are cramped. All together, this is true adventure. If you want to know more, watch this video

One advantage, after this article, this climb is no longer anonymous. It's now safe to take it home.

Book your accommodation near the Hochwurtenspeicher


Don't wait to book. Many hotels offer free cancellation.


Gabor Györgyi

Special credits to Gabor Györgyi. This well-known Hongarian cyling adventurer aimed to ride all European summits above 2000m. A project that has been successfully finished in the meantime. He created a website, packed with nice photo's and video's.  

Gran fondo




Click on the image to download the route.

The highest climbs in Europe, the list

20Col du GranonFrance2413


HochwurtenspeicherPicture: Gabor Györgyi

HochwurtenspeicherPicture: Gabor Györgyi

HochwurtenspeicherPictureGabor Györgyi


HochwurtenspeicherPictureGabor Györgyi

HochwurtenspeicherPicture: Quäldich

Pictures: Gabor GyörgyiQuäldich. Profile: Climbfinder.

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