Dante’s Pass (Death Valley)

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Distance:  37 km
Gradient: 4%
Elevation gain: 1,590 metres
Surface: Sealed
Terrain: Desert

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

“Though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for I am the meanest son of a bitch in the valley”

-Joel Rosenberg

Death Valley (California) sounds like the most uninviting place in the world that you would like to ride a bike. It is known for its extreme weather and is one of the hottest places on Earth.

Death Valley is located 2 hours outside of Las Vegas and stretches approximately 225 km from north to south. It offers an incredible 37 km climb which takes you up to Dante’s View.  A scenic lookout to the north side of Coffin Peak which provides an amazing panoramic view of Death Valley.  The best time of year to do this climb is between October and April, when desert temperatures are at their mildest (apparently still bloody hot).

 

Joe Parks Dante's View Death Valley
Image taken by Joe Parks; courtesy of Flickr

What to expect

“The first time I rode my bike in Death Valley, I stopped in the middle of a butter-smooth paved road and there sat a Tarantula, sunning itself. I’ve always had the usual “huge poisonous spider” concerns in my head, until I actually encountered this little guy. He was magnificent! Seeing one for the first time was a different experience than I ever expected.  And that sums up the magic of Death Valley: never what I expected.”

-taken from Adventurecycling

Cycling is not recommended during the summer and certainly never without good SAG support.  The heat can be stifling (if not truly dangerous) and supplies are few and far between.  Death Valley has extremely hot summers and short, warm or mild winters and received very little rainfall. The valley is surrounded by mountains, and its surface is mostly flat and devoid of plants.

If you would consider doing this climb. Keep in mind, Death Valley holds the record for the highest reported temperature in the Western Hemisphere.  On July 10, 1913 the temperature hit 56.7 C in aptly named Furnace Creek.

Dante's Pass
Image taken by Ray Bouknight; courtesy of Flickr

For the nerd

Dante’s View was used as a filming location for the 1977 film Star Wars. The heroes are filmed overlooking Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine.  So if you’re a nerd, maybe bring a Lightsaber with you.

 

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