Height Gain: 1322m
Average Gradient: 4.2%
Maximum gradient: 18%
Here is a link to the Strava segment here:
Mount Hotham is one of Australia’s most epic climbs and is known for its unforgettable moon-like summit. The climb provides spectacular views of Mount Buffalo, Mount Feathertop as well as the high plains. Mount Hotham is a climb which essentially is broken up into 3 distinct sections. The opening 11 km are steep followed by a 9 km false-flat. The last 10 km from the Buckland Gate has made many grown men cry. It is a roller-coaster of super steep uphill & downhill. The super steep pinches on Mount Hotham are so formidable they have their own names! “The Meg” and “CRB Hill” which will be indelibly etched into your memory forever. Many have succumbed and walked these beasts.
Start: Harrietville General Store, Great Alpine Road.
This challenging ride commences in the gateway town of Harrietville. The first part of this climb is flanked by a tall forest, which was effected by bush fires in 2013. Fires raged uncontrollably around the Alpine National Park which destroyed much of the vegetation around the area. On the lower slopes of Mount Hotham, there has been much regrowth. The higher you climb. You will see more extensive damage. Hopefully one day this area can return to its former beauty.
After 5.6 km of tough climbing. You will come upon a corner with a road sign letting you know that you have reached the Meg. Whenever you take on any Mountain ascent, you may find that it seems to have a life of its own. There are sections which will be etched into cyclists memories forever. As a rule of thumb. If you come upon a section of a Mountain ascent which has its own name. It will hurt!
No matter how much climbing experience you have, rounding that bend to the Meg is a cyclists worst nightmare. Whilst the Meg is only 300 meters long, the road goes skywards. With an average gradient of 11.8% and peaking at 14%. If you have to get off and walk your bike up this pinch we won’t think any less of you. The Meg is truly brutal.
The Buckland Gate
With 9 km of false flat ahead of you. This is time to sit back and do whatever necessary to pace yourself to get to the top. When you reach the Buckland gate, this is where your climb to the summit of Mount Hotham begins. The closer you get to the summit, the more the road opens up. The climb offers amazing views to both sides of the road. The scenery is simply stunning! You will be tempted to pull over a number of times to take photos. If you look over your shoulder, you can see much of the climb below. You’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come. When you turn around you can also see how far you’ve still got to go. Ouch!
After you crest the first of the steep climbs, you will come across the first of the steep downhills. Gear yourself up as they are all followed by big kickers.
If you were hitting CRB on fresh legs it would be hard. Hitting it with 23 km of climbing in your legs is pure evil. CRB Hill is a 700 metre stretch with gradients in excess of 10%. What does CRB stand for? Climbing is ridiculous brutal. Climbing is really brutal. You may think up a few variations of your own as you attempt to ascend this beast. Maybe it should be renamed to CBF’d hill
Over the top you will be thankful of a brief respite down a fast technical descent. Save something in reserve as there’s still one last pinch to get up, and it is guaranteed to hurt.
Finish: Hotham Corral Day Car park, Great Alpine Road, Hotham (next to Hotham RMB building, opposite Hotham Central).
Heading under the bridge you’re now going downhill into the Hotham Heights village. No matter your fitness level, you will feel a sense of accomplishment making the ascent up to Mount Hotham.
Mount Hotham starts steep and it finishes steep, and is quite a formidable climb. Here are some tips on how to survive:
- There are three distinct sections to this climb. Focus on breaking your climb into these three sections
- Mount Hotham can be exposed to the elements. There can be considerably different conditions from the base to the summit. Check weather conditions and plan your ride appropriately
- Avoid climbing Mount Hotham on a really windy day. The descents can be quite dangerous
- During the summer months, there may not be anything open at the top. Bring adequate supplies to get you through your ride