I just couldn’t resist.
While skiing at Le Grand Bornand a few days ago, I kept looking towards Col de la Colombière and wondering if I could reach the top with a bike – without waiting until June for the road to open.
The South-West side from Le Grand Bornand is the easier side of Col de la Colombière – at least when there is no snow.
It was cloudy, cold and dark down low. But approaching Chinaillon I begun to get through the fog – sweet, another day above the clouds.
I was pleased to find that road was ploughed until about 3 kms from the top. Then it was steep, deep, and soft snow – VERY hard work uphill with a bike:
I had descended this side at speed (OK lots of people passed me) in two cyclosportives this summer – great hairpins even with snow! I had also been hailed on here (in July!) with the Tour d’Enfer. I’ll take sun and winter anyday.
Do not try accessing Colombiere from the classic north-east side during winter. The last 3 kms have steep mountains on one side and a cliff on the other. As the photo below – from the top looking down – shows: avalanches all over the road. Eric, are you listening?
The cement thing in the bottom middle below is the safety barrier. The road is to the LEFT.
The only living creature I encountered was a very relaxed Bouquetin – see very last photo.
The next time I am here will likely be to watch the epic stage 17 of the 2009 Tour de France, which will descend this side to the finish.
Eric had ambitious plans to do a monster loop from Geneva and climb the harder north-east side. Too much for me. I hoped to surprise him coming from the other side – but never saws him. I was alarmed to see the state of the other side and hoped he had turned around. Quick glances down the cliff revealed no fallen Flemish cyclists. When I got home, I found that he had abandoned his plans. Hmmm, he’s not coping with turning 40 very well.