Tiefenbachferner (2,780)


col de la cayolle cycling


The Tiefenbachferner provides the highest paved point in the Alps – but not the highest end-point. You ride up to 2,810 meters, but after the tunnel, a descend leads to the (must say) ugly Tiefenbachferner. The road is an extension of the Rettenbachferner climb, starting from Sölden and leading up to the Rettenbach Glacier, is one of the tougher Deux Mille challenges. Spanning over 12.8 kilometers, this climb boasts an average gradient of 10.6%. To put this into perspective, it’s the same distance as the iconic Alpe d’Huez but with a 2% steeper gradient, making it an exceptionally tough ascent.

The ride begins in Sölden, a town renowned for its vibrant energy and status as a hub for outdoor sports. Nestled in Austria’s Ötztal Valley, Sölden offers a picturesque start to this challenging climb. However, as you ascend, the landscape transforms, and the town’s lively atmosphere gives way to a more rugged and isolated alpine terrain.

The climb culminates near the Rettenbach Glacier, a striking feature of the Ötztal Alps. This glacier, with its vast expanse of ice and snow, provides a dramatic backdrop to the climb. However, its presence is also a stark reminder of the impact of ski resort developments in such pristine environments. Despite the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and the glacier, the area is often described as lacking soul, primarily due to the extensive ski resort infrastructure. This development can feel incongruous to those seeking a pure and unspoiled mountain experience, creating a unique contrast between the rugged beauty of the Alps and the commercial aspects of ski tourism.