The Longest, Most Demanding Climbs and Hikes in the World
The planet is filled with exhilarating destinations where you can reach tremendous heights in one way or another. Whether you want to walk, climb or cycle, you will find some interesting way of doing it in the following places.
Longest Cycling Climb – Alto de Letras, Colombia
You will need strong legs for this monster climb in South America. It is described as being the world’s longest and most demanding cycling climb. It winds upwards for almost 80km (50 miles) in the Andes.
Overall, it has an average gradient of 4%. This infamous route covers 80km as cyclists cross one side of the mountain range to the other. Most of it is upwards, but some descents on the way mean that you go down only to have to climb back up again.
The end of this punishing climb is at 3,700m above sea level, meaning that breathing normally is hard work. Only really serious and properly prepared athletes should take on this task, but those that do are rewarded with glorious views and an immense feeling of satisfaction.
Toughest Free Climb - The Dawn Wall of El Capitan, US
If you are serious about free climbing, you have probably dreamed of conquering the mighty El Capitan at some point. This rock formation in Yosemite National Park towers at a height of some 3,000 feet.
There are numerous ways of climbing El Capitan, and none of them are easy. For example, The Nose was finally conquered in the 1950s, when climbers spent a month and a half preparing the route with bolts, ropes and pitons.
The toughest free climb in the world is the Dawn Wall section. It was 2015 before someone finally got to the top. Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson were the bold climbers who achieved this with no safety ladders, ropes or other equipment.
Longest Hiking Trail – Pacific Crest Trail, US
There is some debate over what is the longest hiking trail on Earth. However, the Guinness Book of World Records states that it is the Pacific Crest Trail on the west coast of the US.
It begins in California, near to the Mexican border, and ends near the Canadian frontier. It all adds up to a whopping 2,650 miles of hiking. Along the way, it passes 7 national parks as well as 25 national forests.
Most of this trail keeps you clear of towns and other types of civilisation. If you prefer to cycle the route, the Pacific Crest Bicycle Trail runs alongside it for long stretches.
Tallest Unclimbed Mountain – Gangkhar Puensum, Bhutan
Have you ever wondered which mountains have so far resisted every attempt to climb them? Well, the tallest unclimbed mountain is the imposing Gangkhar Puensum, located near Bhutan’s border with China.
At 7,570 metres tall, this is the 40th highest peak in the world. While it looks daunting, the reason no one has conquered it is down to more than just technical matters. Mountaineering is banned in this Asian country, as local beliefs state that Gods and important spirits live in these peaks.