Flick through any road cycling publication and at some point there will be a list of all the climbs you really need to do. Heck, we recently did one such list ourselves. But when have you ever come across a list of climbs you should do on your mountain bike? While admittedly a little harder to compile than for our fellow road cyclists, we've put together a list of climbs we think you should tackle.
1. Bergen Peak, Colorado
Ascending a whopping 2,000m in only 6 km of trail, the Bergen Peak climb is challenging enough to make our list. The singletrack rolls over varied terrain from gravel to hardpack and anything in between. The climb does feature some tight uphill switchbacks, enough to make any 29er wish it was a 24" bike. This climb is rated as the "Toughest Climb in Colorado's Front Range" which in an area known for steep climbs really says something! Watch for the equally breathtaking descents on your way back down, this area is full of them.
Once you summit this climb, you'll be greeted by a 360 degree view of the valleys surrounding you. Pack a camera to prove you made it and share your happy snaps. Cheese!
2. Table Mountain, South Africa
A little more informal than most marked trail climbs, the ride up Table Mountain is absolutely incredible. The best way to find a route up is to head for the main road up the mountain from Rondebosch. This dead end road is where the fun starts! Informal walking and riding trails litter the mountainside and you can pick any one you choose - they all head skywards. The most frequented trails from the carpark in the dead end road all join up and finish on top of Signal Hill.
From Signal Hill you can watch planes come in to land from a reasonably close proximity. But best of all is the view over the coastal region of Cape Town. The mountaintop viewing area is high enough but still allows you to make out the details of the world below. To get back down you can ride any of the 4WD Management trails to the base, or even head across the mountain escarpment towards the cable cars before enjoying a tarmac descent to the harbor.
3. Stonefly Trail, Australia
Part of an ever evolving network of mountain bike trails, the Stonefly is a winner! Rated the best trail in the area, Stonefly takes you through a huge variety of alpine vegetation in the Victorian Mt Buller alpine region. To explain the location all we can say is "grab a free map at any lodge, cafe, toilet or bus stop in Mt Buller Resort". They push mountain biking really hard in the summer so you'd be hard pressed to not find it.
The climb itself features in the annual Buller MTB Festival, and takes riders along switchback laden singletrack through dense alpine shrubbery. There is something truly unique about riding through an alpine setting on the world's flattest and driest continent. The grey blue leaves and earthy rainbow splendor of the alpine eucalypt trees is something you won't find outside this corner of the world and well worth the trip.
There are a number of cross country features, such as river crossings, steel bridges and narrow gaps between trees but it's all worth it in the end. The entire trail is 20km in length, with 40% approximately being uphill. The other 60% is some of the best cross country descending in Australia, with berms, drops, rock gardens, bridges and jumps. The trail finishes exactly where it starts, so you can do it all over again!
4. Whakarewarewa Forest, New Zealand
Here's a tongue twister to get you started - Whakarewarewa Forest. "Whaka-re-war-ewa" or something along those lines! The best trails in the world are located right here according to our slightly biased research. Instead of listing just one climb, we're recommending the entire forest to you... There are incredible trails here, carved lovingly from the earth by some cross country enthusiasts, professional trail builders and the local Corrections Centre lads!
Make sure you ride to the highest point in the reserve and take in the view of Rotorua and surrounds. The redwood forests will simply blow you away, almost as much as the descent back down on some very well known trails! Now jump onto YouTube and search for 'Be Rude Not To' before you think it's not worth all the climbing.
5. Zermatt-Schwarzsee, Switzerland
While Colorado is famous for its mountains, so too are the Swiss Alps - in this case, the area around the Matterhorn. This trail starts and finishes in Zermatt and climbs 1423m to the highest point at Schwarzsee. Expect unrelenting technical climbs and descents along the way. The 23km (14mile) route will take approximately 3 hours, but this depends on your level of fitness and how long you spend gazing at the epic beauty at the top.
A word of warning when riding in this area: Keep your eyes on the trail! It is too easy to be distracted when every upward glance is met with the awesome mountain vistas which here are abundant.
6. Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia
The highest point in Australia is surrounded by far more awe inspiring mountains, sadly enough. But it's no reason to miss tackling this ride simply for the beauty of the surrounds. The Kosciuszko region is home to wild horses, very unique alpine vegetation and breathtaking views. The climb itself is a solid 9km of riding, predominantly uphill. It is by no means a brutal climb, but just nice and steady.
The ride starts from the top of Charlottes Pass and finishes just below the summit of the mountain. You will need to walk the final 400 metres to the top. The descent down is the best part, with a few water diverts acting as jumps to get you airborne. Be careful of walkers coming up as it is a shared firetrail.
Get your passport ready and pack your bikes.