In this Coordinator's Choice era of Low-Key Hillclimbs the balance of the schedule is left more to chance than to any grand plan. In this case, a few late-game changes in venue resulted in a schedule which is rather heavy at the top end. And as far as I'm concerned, that's fine: it's good to mix things up.
One of these is week 6's Hicks Mt Umunhum. We've done this climb before. The first time was in 1996 when we started well ahead of the creek marking the steep climb of Hicks, then climbed up to the gate on what was then known, at least according to Peterson and Kluge, as Loma Almaden Road. I think now, however, a more common name is Mount Umunhum Road. In any case, we returned in 2008, starting at the base of the Hicks climb, ending again at the gate. Thanks to the excellent work by coordinator Will Van Kaenel, however, this year we go beyond the gate to the white line marking the beginning of what may be the beginning of private property. Honestly, though, nobody seems to be definitively sure on that matter.
The extra distance between the gate and the white line takes what was already a challenging climb and makes it even better. Indeed, it becomes the hardest-rated climb, using the Low-Key rating system, in Low-Key history, beyond even the Welch Creek, the various flavors of Bohlman, and Mix Canyon Road:
Here's the ranking:
|1||Hicks - Mt Umunhum (white line)||248.714|
|2||Bohlman - On Orbit||247.289|
|3||Mix Canyon Road||244.349|
|5||Mount Diablo (N)||233.151|
|8||Welch Creek Road||213.101|
|9||Soda Springs Road||211.57|
|10||Hicks - Mt Umunhum||211.141|
|11||Mt Hamilton Road||209.403|
|12||Mount Diablo (S)||209.14|
|15||Montara Mountain from Grant Ranch||197.544|
|16||Montevina + dirt||195.796|
|18||Black Road + Skyline to Castle Rock||171.1|
|21||Bonny Doon - Pine Flat Rd.||151.985|
|23||Jamison Creek Road||149.501|
It's interesting, because while the climbs is certainly steep, it's never in the super-steep zone above 20%, or even 18%. Where it wins is on a combination of sustained grade and altitude gained: 657 meters or 2158 feet. There's not many climbs in the Bay area which push beyond the 2000 foot mark, and none of them spend that much time over 10%.
For comparison, here's Mix Canyon Road. It's a brutal finish but the start is relatively gradual.