It’s the big one! Climb numero uno on Hobart’s Top Ten list! Can you really call yourself a serious Tasmanian cyclist if you haven’t ridden up the Hors Catégorie climb of Mount Wellington?
Rising high above the city of Hobart, Mount Wellington is an iconic Tasmanian image and a benchmark for any roadie in the area. It’s taken me just over two years, but I finally completed this climb – on a Monday morning before work no less! It was long, it was cold, but the view from the top was totally worth it!
Length – 17.7 km (11 miles)
Average Gradient – 7%
Personal Best – 1:22:42
There are many ways to start the climb. Some prefer to ascend the Huon Highway or Waterworks Road, but for me there’s only one way to attack this monster – that’s the #StravaClassics way! After a casual 10 minute roll south out of town, you’ll pass the Cascade Brewery on your right. No time for a cheeky beer today because this is the start, baby. From here it’s a mere 11 mile trek uphill from the base of Strickland Avenue, up onto the Huon and then a sharp right onto Pinnacle Road to the summit! Easy, right? :-)
Strickland Avenue winds up from the base of the mountain, through residential areas and into dense forest. It’s a Cat 3 climb and it’s easy to go too hard. You’ll want to save some energy. Cresting Strickland and turning right onto the Huon Highway there’s a short reprieve in the climbing – take on some fuel and recover slightly before the sharp right onto Pinnacle Road. This is where the true climbing begins. Pinnacle Road is itself an HC rated climb. A good benchmark is to get from here to the top in under an hour.
There’s a road sign here you should take note of. It shows how far up the road is safe and if there are any closures. Be aware that the weather can change rapidly on the mountain. It can snow at the top, even in summer. Road open? Great! Keep climbing! You’ll be entering Wellington Park and there’s “only” 10 kilometres to go, somebody has kindly (or unkindly, depending on your outlook) painted white markers on the road counting down each kilometre. The further you ascend up the mountain, the slower these seem to pass!
The only cafe along the climb is Lost Freight, a converted shipping container serving coffee, cakes and light snacks. Located at the springs, it makes for a handy stop en-route to the top or a break from the long descent on the way back down. After you grind past Lost Freight, the road ramps up again to a consistently unforgiving 9% average gradient. There is no let up, so just keep plugging away!
As you hit the 3km to go point, the scenery changes from rain forest to a much more baron and rocky environment. Take a moment to soak in the expansive views to your right and the imposing cliff face to your left. By this point your legs are probably smoked so this offers up a welcome distraction. With the more open landscape also comes the wind. You’re a good 1000m above sea level now and that icy antarctic breeze is usually whipping across the mountain top.
Don’t give up though, this is the final push to the top! Keep your wits about you in the summer months as the narrow road will be busy with rental cars piloted by distracted tourists – many with little to no road sense. Keep safe and climb onward, you’re oh so close to the top! As you crest the summit into the car park you will feel a real sense of achievement. A job well done!
On a clear day the views are spectacular. Stop long enough to take in the views from the various platforms while catching your breath and preparing for the descent. There’s no cafe up here (yet) so have a celebratory energy gel instead. It’s then time to don a windproof jacket and full-fingered gloves for the descent.
Zipping back down the mountain, the wind chill factor is much higher than you’d expect – especially through the forested sections. You can bomb it all the way into the city with barely a pedal stroke! Once back at sea level it’s time for a well deserved coffee from one of Hobart’s cafes. Be sure to choose a suitably delicious cake to congratulate yourself on conquering the mountain! Go on, you’ve earned it.
Things to note:
– The weather can change RAPIDLY on the mountain. Check the local forecast and be prepared.
– Corners can be slippery, especially in shaded areas.
– Watch out for tourist traffic on the narrow roads. Cars, motor homes, walkers, people taking dangerous selfies. Stay sharp.
– I’d recommend front and rear lights all year round.
– There is NO cafe at the top. Take enough food and water.
– Enjoy the ride!