My 10 Hardest Climbs...7th Hardest...Rettenbachferner

Location: Austrian Alps
Departure: Sölde
Length: 12.11km
Altitude: 2,675m
Height Gain: 1,298m
Average Gradient: 10.7%
Maximum Gradient: 13.0%
Category: Hors Category

With its summit often shrouded in cloud, the Rettenbachferner can be a bleak and unrelenting climb, save for a few hundred metres of flat at the toll booths half way up its otherwise twisting and tortuous tarmac. One advantage – that's if you're determined to climb it – is that the road up to the summit is easy to find. After heading due south from the centre of Sölden, along the B186, it's a slight right onto Gletscherstrust. Follow the 11+% gradient for the next four kilometres before you reach the only rest you'll have until you either reach the top of the climb or you dismount for a well-earned breather. But don't stop for too long as you'll soon be chilled to the bone, even in the height of summer.

With the gradient hovering between 11 and 12% for all but the last two kilometres, your destination comes into view. But like slowly approaching an oasis in a desert you soon realise that you still have a long way to travel. Painstakingly watching the treeless V-shape before you, you seem no closer at all as the road viciously winds back on itself twice more.

Eventually, there is some small reward for what has probably been a near two-hour grind, as the gradient eases off ever so slightly. Somewhat relieved, you're now only climbing at 8%.

Once you've made it: A well-earned bowl of hearty soup at the summit restaurant is highly recommended before beginning the freezing descent down the mountain. 

 Books by Mark Krieger:

‘High Spain Drifter’ is available on Amazon , Barnes and Noble, Booktopia  and other online bookstores. 

‘Lycra, Lattes and the Long Way Round’ is available on Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books

Both books are also available at local bookshops on the Mornington Peninsula: @ Rosebud Bookbarn and @ La Brocante

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.”                        H. G. Wells