Ever wonder how Mount Washington stacks up against Mont Ventoux? Whiteface with Alpe d’Huez? This page will give you some insight. I hunted around on the web to find profiles of a few of the most famous climbs of the grand tours (I plan to ride these great climbs soon!).
The chart below compares Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez from the Tour de France, Agliru from the Vuelta a Espana, and Passo dello Stelio from the Giro d’Italia, with New Hampshire’s Mount Washington and New York’s Whiteface Mountain.
As you can see, nothing approaches the steepness of Mount Washington. Angliru comes the closest, with an average grade of 10%. Agliru has sustained pitches that are much greater than 10%, so it is a very challenging climb.
The image here suggests a peak grade at 23.5%! Whiteface and Alpe d’Huez are also similar climbs. Both gain ~3,500 feet in 8 to 9 miles. Whiteface is slightly steeper, but gains slightly less vertical.
Mont Ventoux compares similarly to Mount Washington when starting from the town of Gorham in terms of the average grade. However, Gorham to the auto road is only a couple percent grade, then the rest of the climb is at 12%.
Mont Ventoux stays right around a much more modest 7% grade. Passo dello Stelvio is a huge climb, a pass through the mountains, gaining just over 6000 feet in elevation. Stelvio was in several stages of the Giro.
When we local hillclimbers attack Mt Washington, Whiteface, or Equinox, we often train and peak for that once per season event. We back off days or even more than a week before the climb to let our bodies recover. We do the climb, and it hurts bad, then recover for a couple of days afterward. It is too easy to fall into a trap and say gee, I just did Whiteface in X hours, which isn’t much slower than some of the Tour pros did Alpe d’Huez.
There really is no comparison. Those guys have been going at it for days, 100+ miles per day, at an unbelievable pace. A stage finish atop a big mountain might even be the fourth or fifth climb for that stage alone. And, they have to get up the next morning and do it all over again.
A good comparison might be to do the White Mountains Century on Thursday, finishing at the summit of Mt Washington at race pace. Then do it again on Friday. Then do it again on Saturday, recording your Hillclimb time. You get the idea. Those guys come from a different gene pool.