It’s been a while since we saw Ken Block in action. Specifically, it was a little less than a year ago when we first saw the 1977 Ford F-150-themed pickup affectionately known as the Hoonitruck, not to mention four other Block-approved machines for his epic Gymkhana Ten adventure. That clip celebrated the 10th anniversary of his first internet-breaking gymkhana video, but today’s new clip titled Climbkhana Two is something quite different. In fact, it’s so good it’s almost boring. Wait, what?
This 9-minute video takes place at Tianmen Mountain – AKA Heaven's Gate – in China. It’s considered one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, and ascending to the peak is also one of the most incredible roads you’ll ever find. We’ve seen Land Rover and Volkswagen set records there, and while Ken Block's Climbkhana mission didn’t include records, we do suspect there was no small amount of courage involved. That’s because this road has 99 curves, with most of them featuring a rather treacherous drop on the opposite side of rather small concrete – and in some places steel – barriers.
Gallery: Ken Block Climbkhana 2 Screenshots
We can already hear Block critics panning this video as no big deal. After all, the road isn’t really dangerous with all those concrete walls, right? And aside from a snazzy figure-eight and a couple of AWD donuts en route to the summit, this was just a simple power climb on a paved road. That’s why we say it’s almost boring, but there are two very important reasons why we also say it’s so good.
For starters, that custom-built truck has 914 bhp, and it’s no heavyweight off-roader so you better believe this thing is stupid fast. Controlling it on a wide-open road is one thing, but this stretch of pavement is obviously far from being wide open. Piloting a vehicle of even modest performance to its limits up this mountain requires some courage, never mind careening sideways in something with the dimensions of a full-size pickup. And while there are concrete barriers along the edges, we suspect they’re of little consequence when zipping along at speed. They would probably save the day for small mistakes, but any large crash could easily send the Hoonitruck flipping over top and down the mountain.
In other words, going full-attack in a sideways-happy pickup truck isn’t something one does without some serious bravado and a bit of insanity all mixed together. That’s reason number one, and for that reason alone, Block has our respect.
Reason number two is that we’ve become so used to seeing Block pulling off crazy drifts and stunts that, frankly, we’re a bit desensitised to just a “simple” hillclimb. Remember being awestruck at his first Gymkhana video? Go back and watch it now – the action isn’t much different from what we see here. That’s a testament to Block’s skill and confidence behind the wheel.
Yes, this crazy hillclimb on a narrow mountain road is seriously good. Block just makes it look seriously easy.