Thursday, February 16, 2012

Letras 3704

I made it! Letras is the biggest mountain pass on this planet (by altitude gain), and Colombia's "most mythical climb." It was an awesome ride. I was pretty buggered by the last 500 meters, but at that point, who cares?! The altitude never seemed to directly affect me. A slight headache set in somewhere around the 3,000 meter point, but I am not sure if that was because of the thin air or something else.

The climb was really great. 80km is a long way, and we went through a dozen or so small towns/villages. We had plenty of sun at the start (730am) and for most of the day. There was a thick layer of cloud between ~2800 meters and 3400 meters. I could see the cloud for quite a while before we entered it, and I was worried that it would be rain. Luckily, it was dry all day.

The top was a thrilling. All the pain magically disappeared in the final few hundred meters. My highest elevation prior to today was 2800 meteres on Col de la Bonette with Jono Macbeth in the French Alps in June 2011. I blew that away today. Letras sits at 3,704 meters (12,152 feet). 

The biggest surprise today was the total elevation gain of 3,785 meters. The 80km climb has 586 meters of descents. That is no small sum. 

After summiting, I descended 36km down to Manizales. The descent was fine; not too cold, but quite a few trucks making their way through the Andes. 

A big thank you to Camila for driving the team car, re-filling my bottles, handing out food, and making the day much easier. And she took all the great photos too (below).

730am start at 492 meters altitude.

Descending to Manizales behind a convoy of trucks.


  1. So high up you reached the clouds. Congrats!

  2. Awesome ride! Congratulations on reaching the top.

  3. Awesome ride! Congratulations on reaching the top.

  4. That is an impressive climb, man!

  5. Great pictures! Heading down there next year and I am looking forward to some challenging riding.

  6. Hi. Great ride and pictures. I'm planning to do this climb. Are there any shops to rent a decent road bike nearby ? Thank you.

  7. Great climb and great pictures. Do you know if there is any shop nearby to rent a decent road bike ? Thanks.