Monday, May 21, 2012

Bucket List: Ticlio Pass, Peru

Good news and bad news. The good news is that I found a massive 4,818 meter climb. The bad news is that Alto de Letras (which I climbed in February) is not in fact the world's biggest mountain pass.

X-axis = kilometers. Y-axis = meters.

Ticlio Pass (also known as Anticona) is located approximately 150km northeast of Lima, Peru. Starting at sea level in Lima, the road climbs at a gentle 3.5% average gradient all the way to 4,818 meters. The final 50km average 5%. 

Ticlio is probably a 10 hour ride so I would start around 5am. I'll also need to know more about weather patterns and traffic congestion. Hopefully, its not a major trucking route. And finally, I also need to know where to finish the ride. Once at the summit, it appears you have a choice of roads towards the northeast and southeast.

I thought that Letras was the world's biggest, even after quite some research. But I found several Andean climbs last night that appear bigger. The problem is finding specific data on any of these roads. The best sources for finding and validating Andean climbs are often a combination of Google search, Wikipedia, blogs, and topographical maps.

I will add other Andean climbs to my bucket list on this blog over time.


  1. At nearly 5000m it would be v cold and little oxygen. Doing it without acclimatising could be fatal. I trekked this high in Peru and we were travelling very slowly by the end and in sight of snow capped mountains. Also, Knowing Peru I would very much doubt the road would be continuous asfalt. Me, I'm heading back to Medellin in 2013 for some more of the same!

  2. I have biked this pass in 2004 and 2009. We started at Chosica (2,800ft) and rode to San Mateo (10,000ft) the first day; about 33 miles. The next day we climbed 6,000ft in 23 miles to the summit, and then descended to La Oroya at 12,000ft and spent the night. The next day we rode to Tarma and spent the night at 10,000ft, and then continued to La Merced and Satipo for the final two nights. I think there are three branches in the road at La Oroya. Satipo is essentially a dead end with no other connections to the outside world. the jungle begins between Tarma and La Merced.
    There is good pavement, but you can expect landslide damage and road repairs. There is a LOT of truck traffic. The trucks were generous with the road when they could be, but sometimes a bus would pass a truck while the truck was passing us, and the truckers didn't have much to work with. There is "V" shaped concrete culvert on much of the road, and there is no shoulder between the culvert and drive lane at some places. Buses, small trucks and taxis were less generous than trucks. There are several tunnels; on about 1,500ft long and some shorter ones.

    Some photos:

    I rode with a group called PACTour led by Lon Haldeman.
    bikeman.glenn at
    American living 10 miles from Washington DC, USA.

    1. That is great information, Glenn. Thank you very much! Which other massive passes have you climbed in South America?

  3. I rode from Cusco to Nasca this fall. I don't have an altimiter or GPS, but the other riders said there were 10 passes close to or over 13,000 feet. One pass was 15,100 ft. Most towns were about 9,000ft +/- 1,000ft, but one was 14,000ft. Much less traffic than Ticleo, and no tunnels, but more lifestock. Lots of dogs as well. We rode about 100k/day for 5 days. We climbed to 13,000 on the last day and then decended to Nasca. It would be great to do the last day in the oposite direction, however there are few bodagas on the climb. It would be difficult or impossible to carry enough water. There are long stretches with no place to get off of the road as well, so a support vehicle would have few places to pull over. I have never rideen in any other S. American country.

  4. did you ever do this ride? would be interested. I think to make that pass from sea level to 4800m in one day would be humanly impossible. I have lived here in Peru for six years now.