Background photo - U.S. #5 Pikes Peak CO.
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Beware missed turn at mile 13.6
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From the start of the Waipoli climb to Haleakala Summit is the #2 most difficult climb in the U.S. (33.8 miles / 10,021' / 5.9% average grade / Fiets 18.68; we did not rank it because it is impassible on a road bike). From Waipoli Road at about mile 13 to Haleakala Summit is roughly 18.2 miles / 7,185' / 8.9% / Fiets 17.12 - that alone would be #6 U.S.
PJAMM Strava Buddy Ray Gurzynski writes of this spectacular adventure:
This route is similar to Mauna Kea in the sense that the hardest part is an unpaved upper section which finally blessedly reverts to pavement near the top. Also like Mauna Kea, the unpaved section varies from challenging to marginally ridable to it's walk-a-bike time.
I have not ridden MK but have been up there in a vehicle so I feel qualified to make this comparison.
One difference perhaps is that the MK section is periodically graded, which creates a substantial variable in the difficulty equation. While it would never be "easy", if a rider had the good fortune to ride MK right after a grading it might be slightly less terrible, that being as kind a description as I'd use for that beastly stretch!
The Skyline Ridge Trail on Haleakala is a typical doubletrack jeep/4x4/logging/fire road. (regional terminology varies but they're all about the same- I'm sure you get the idea.). The upper portion of the SRT was the worst. My impression was that it has been graded in the past, but not anytime recently. it was very chunky- think lava landscape rocks from golf to baseball sized for the full width. This stuff was simply unridable in a few places. In fact, it was difficult to walk in, let alone push my bike, and I was wearing nice wide soled Teva sandals. (sort of a trademark of mine- I like getting off my bike and walking like a human, rather than hobbling about like an injured bird.)
But I digress...
The MK unpaved section obviously is very heavily traveled, thus they have to keep it at least drivable. The SRT gets essentially no traffic save for hikers, some downhill mtn bikers, and very occasionally someone like me doing it uphill. There's a mere handful of us on Strava. And I suppose official personnel periodically check on it's condition, but seemingly very very infrequently. Then thankfully there is pavement again near the top, access roads to the observatory stuff and the connector road over to the main tourist summit building.
John, I of course do not know if anyone has brought this route to your attention before me, but I would be very curious to get your thoughts on it, and to see how it'd fare when entered into your magic climb rating algorithm.
Perhaps it deserves an asterisk, an honorable mention, or a subset letter postscript like the private property-crossing climb The Bear (6A).
Don't stop now!!! Head on up the gravel to Haleakala Summit via Skyline Ridge Trail
Start Point - 95' above sea level
Hover cursor over segment slices, below, for exact grade of a particular segment. Map route (bottom) colors correlate with elevation legend colors.
Much thanks and appreciation to Ron Hawks for his photo, video and climb summary contributions to this page.
Note: Click on “View full route" (top left) which opens the Waipoli Road RideWithGPS page. Hover over the distance line at the spot you would like to begin a sub- segment for this climb. Click your mouse on the start point and drag the vertical graphing line the distance you wish to obtain sub-detail from, then release the mouse at the end point. This will give you the following sub-detail for the selected segment in the “Metrics” window top right of the page: (a) distance, (b) elevation gained and lost, (c) max grade, (d) average grade (e) that segment's climb category – e.g. Cat 1, HC, etc., and (f) FIETS score for the segment.