Col de la Seigne

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Glaciers

Glaciers

Val Vény is a valley on the edge of the Mont-Blanc massif to the south-west of Courmayeur. Surrounded by glaciers and big mountains, it’s a beautiful place to mountain bike.

I started near Courmayeur, just below the Mont-Blanc tunnel. The entrance to the valley can be difficult to find. Just look for Val Vény signs – there is only one road in.

Brenva Glacier

Brenva Glacier – early in the route.

The beginning is paved, and occasionally steep. But after several kilometres the road is closed to cars. Nice! It is paved for a while, then becomes a good quality gravel road.

After a long, steep stretch, I reached Lago di Combal. The road flattens out and traverses a long marsh. A false flat, with views of the challenges ahead.

Lago di Combal

Lago di Combal

Next, I climbed towards the Rifugio Elisabetta on some amazing hairpins. It’s a difficult climb, mainly due to the road surface: big stones, slippery gravel, bumpy surface, etc. But the views of the Glacier de la Lex Blanche make the suffering worthwhile.
While uncertain, the name Col de le Seigne may come from the old Celtic word sange meaning marsh. Which makes sense given the boggy fields in the two flat stretches.
Hard Work, nice views

Hard Work, nice views

After some hard climbing, the route enters another long, flat valley which I think is called Vallée de la Lex Blanche (at least in French). A view from the far end:

Vallée de la Lex Blanche

Vallée de la Lex Blanche

After crossing this valley, Col de la Seigne is not too far away. But here the road ends, and the hiking trail higher is often far too steep to ride. No worries, it’s a nice place to carry a bike.

The Col is at 2512 metres and is the Italian/French border. Over the other side, it is not far to the Ville des Glaciers, a side road off the route des Grandes Alpes – a few kilometres below Cormet de Roselend on its south side.

Col de la Seigne

Col de la Seigne

I peeked over the other side, but this was as far as I was going. I enjoyed the scenic descent back down and stopped for lasagna and beer at the superbly placed Rifugio Elsiabetta: under 2 huge glaciers.

Cheers, cin cin.

Cheers, cin cin.

All the tables at the refuge were full except mine and a group of very fit Japanese seniors who asked if they could join me. A couple of beers later, they decided they liked me, and I must be in at least 50 of their vacation photos. :) A fun ending to a very fun ride.

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9.4 Awesome

A beautiful ride under high mountains and glaciers. It's quiet, but the early stretches does have more tourists than usual for a high alps mountain bike ride.

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Happiest while cycling uphill. More enthusiastic than talented, my 2014 Challenge is to cycle 50 great rides, slowly.

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