Vallée d’Aulps Col Hunting

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Fu&*, I forgot my camera. All photos below taken with my iPhone. Sorry.
The Vallée d’Aulps is the little valley that enters the Alps from La Vernaz up until Morzine. On each side of the road are steep mountains with few roads. But there are several great climbs here, both paved and unpaved. I wanted to see if I could get my bike up to 3 unpaved Cols and make a 6 col loop.

I started near Les Gorges du Pont du Diable and almost immediately started up the steep (paved) climb to Col du Corbier. This Col has appeared frequently recently in the pro race the Critérium du Dauphiné … and will again this week. The Mont-Blanc-Savoie Tourist Board has done a fantastic job signing so many paved climbs in the region in the last few years – not just the famous stuff. Recently they have also included a sign at the start of each climb with map/statistics/etc.

A few related links:
A 100% paved loop for the road bikers that included Col du Corbier, Col du Tréchauffée, and Col du Grand Taillet – here.
A similary, slightly crazy mountain bike route on the other side of the Vallée d’Aulps – here.
La Morzine Vallée d’Aulps Cyclosportive – here (2008).

At the Col, I headed onto an unpaved trail up to Col de Drôline. Note, on the map below, I took the short, direct route up. This was a mistake. Too steep to ride most of it. Take the longer way I came down for a better climb.

See here to order an excellent free brochure from the above official Tourist of 110 cycling routes in Haute-Savoie and Savoie. Also see here for a list of bike-only days in the Alps including this region.

Next I tried to find a road on the other side of Col de Corbier to Col de Planchamp. I got a little lost. I have labeled the “wrong way” route on the map. Frankly, it’s quite difficult to find the correct route. The start is almost hidden in the houses. I strongly suggest having the GPS location marked.

Once I finally found the road — I found it really, really steep .. but fun. I had to push a stretch but mainly pedalled.

Road to Col de Planchamp

Road to Col de Planchamp

Superb views from Col de Planchamp, and my descent below was clear (photo below). But here I was effectively crossing the mountain ridge leaving Vallée d’Aulps into the Vallée d’Abondance (nice cheese!).

View from Col de Planchamp.  Heading down there.

View from Col de Planchamp. Heading down there.

I descended a terribly surfaced “road” for a while knowing that my planned route had a slight gap. After a few kms I understood that I would need to push my bike a kilometre or so up through a steep pasture with no road, to link to Col de Nicodex and cross back into Vallée d’Aulps. No worries.

Over Col de Nicodex there was a road again. It looked like it would get me all the way down, but I wanted to get more cols, so almost immediately I took a small, signed, hiking trail that led to Col de Tréchauffée. The trail required a couple of quite tricky traverses of bouldered rivers, but I survived.

Trail to Col de Tréchauffée

Trail to Col de Tréchauffée

From Col du Tréchauffée the rest of the route is paved. The Col itself is beautiful:

Col de Trachauffée

Col de Trachauffée

A kilometre further is the “Belvedere” with fantastic views of the roads below as well as long stretches of Lake Geneva in the distance. Not the best photo but hopefully you get the point.

View from Belvedere

View from Belvedere

The clouds were ominous so I kept going as fast as possible. The route descends past the fantastic (paved) Col du Grand Taillet, back to the main road, and finally back up to the start.

Woohooo. This is a very fun and do-able 6 col loop …. with only a little pushing for my old legs.

6 Col Signs

6 Col Signs

Route 2,642,721 – powered by www.bikemap.net

8.9 Awesome

Fun little loop on fun unpaved roads at the top of the Vallée d'Aulps

  • Views 8.5
  • Diff 9
  • Quiet / No Traffic 9.5
  • Fun Factor 8.5
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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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