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09-03-2023 | Herman Nekkers

The highest climbs of Europe #6 - Kaunertal

The Kaunertal is the 6th highest slope in Europe and yet relatively unknown. Completely unjustified, this Austrian pearl is one of the most beautiful climbs you can do. A torment for the legs, a feast for the eyes.

KaunertalThe last desolate kilometres with the Weisssee

Kaunertal

Country: Austria
Height: 2750 meter


Location

It's striking that the Kaunertal is relatively unknown. This dead end climb is located near Prato where the Stelvio begins. Yet few cycling tourists seem to care about this pearl. The Kaunertal is one of the great valleys in Tyrol. There is hardly any habitation, you don't have to worry about traffic. It's nice to know that this climb is not closed for the winter, because it leads to a ski resort. So if you're in the area for skiing (for example in Fiss - Serfaus - Ladis), you might be bold, bring your bike and ride to the top when the weather's good.

The north side

The Kaunertal is a dead end that begins in the Austrian town of Prutz. The 39 kilometer long road is clearly signposted. Via 29 hairpin bends you reach the end point: the Kaunertal Glacier. The first 20 kilometers to the reservoir are relatively easy. Although some steep stretches wil hurt quite a bit. Especially just before the dam the muscles are tested. The view on the Gepatsch Stausee is a postcard. At the restaurant you can catch your breath and enjoy the white peaks.

Along the water you cycle relatively flat, but shortly after the apotheosis starts. 12 kilometers long you will be tested. Up to the top gradients barely fall below 10%. Through a series of hairpins you leave the last tree behind you. The surroundings here consist only of grass and grit. Until the grass also stops. In the meantime the glacier becomes more and more visible and the view of the snowy peaks becomes more beautiful every meter. But you can hardly enjoy. The last mile in this lunar landscape is suffering to the max. The glacier itself is less impressive than the Rettenbachferner in the Ötztal, but certainly worth seeing. In the large restaurant you can catch your breath and let the hellish climb get to you.  

The Kaunertal is extreme in everything. Extremely long, extremely heavy and extremely beautiful. An absolute must!

Book your accommodation near the Kaunertal

Prutz

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

   

Cycling history

The Grand Tours never showed up here. In the 90's the Österreich Radrundfahrt had several times planned a finish at the glacier.

Gran fondos

  • None

Profiles

KaunertalKaunertal

Routes and loops

We can be short about the route. From Prutz it's immer gerade aus. Much more can't be said about this one.


Click on the images to download the route.

The highest climbs in Europe, the list

1 Pico Veleta Spain 3375
2 Tiefenbachferner Austria 2829
3 Cime de la Bonette France 2802
4 Col de l'Iseran France 2770
5 Passo dello Stelvio Italy 2758
6 Kaunertal Austria 2750
7 Colle dell’Agnello /
Col Angel
Italy /
France
2744
8 Passo Gavia Italy 2652
9 Col du Galibier France 2642
10 Colle del Nivolet Italy 2632
11 Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse
Austria 2571
12 Timmelsjoch /
Passo Rombo
Austria /
Italy
2509
13 Pass Umbrail Switzerland /
Italy
2503
14 Colle delle Fauniera /
Colle dei Morti
Italy 2481
15 Nufenenpass /
Passo della Novena
Switzerland 2477
16 Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard /
Colle del Gran San Bernardo
Switzerland /
Italy
2473
17 Furkapass Switzerland 2436
18 Roque de los Muchachos Spain 2426
19 Hochwurtenspeicher Austria 2421
20 Col du Granon France 2413

Pictures

KaunertalThe start from Prutz


Kaunertal29 hairpin bends to the summit


KaunertalThe road is sitting against the mountain


KaunertalGepatsch Stausee


KaunertalFor long there's a view on the Gepatsch Stausee


KaunertalThe Gepatsch Stausee leaves you behind


Kaunertal12%, it won't be easier towards the summit.


KaunertalNice switchbacks


KaunertalThe glacier comes close.


KaunertalLunal landscape


KaunertalThe very steep last part


KaunertalReached the summit

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