The Punta Olimpica Old Road is a short section of the famous climb to Punta Olimpica pass. It is 3,2 miles long near the abyss. It’s no longer passable in a car but is okay on a bike. Located in the Cordillera Blanca, in Peru, the old road runs along one of the most famous tunnels in the Andes, the Punta Olimpica tunnel, on the south side of the pass.
The road is mostly washed out. It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. Due to the construction of the new tunnel, the old road is no longer maintained with plenty of fallen boulders sitting in the middle of the path and the road subsiding in places. No one knows what will remain of this in a few years time. This old road climbs up to 4.939m (16,204ft) above the sea level.
The surface of this short section is simply terrible. It’s gravel, so imagine riding up that in a blizzard. It has unbelievable cliff views. Although the old road is rugged and you risk breaking a wheel or slicing a tire, it’s highly recommended. If you are brave, you can ride it. If not, walk it in your cleats.
This old road was bypassed by the Punta Olimpica tunnel in 2013, so this track isn't used anymore after the construction of this tunnel. This old road includes 21 hairpin turns. It is advisable to only do this trip once you've gotten used to the altitude or take some medication against altitude sickness.
It's normal for your palms to sweat looking at those photos. It’s flagged as a high risk of avalanche zone. The road is difficult and it’s a nightmare in the wet or dark (or both). There is little room for error on this road. Expect extreme weather: cold, wind and fog are common.
Pic: Arroz Marisco