From Beaufort, Col du Joly (1990 metres) is one of the many great climbs just off the Route des Grandes Alpes – usually ignored by cyclotourists. See here for details of the paved side.
But today’s route climbed the far, unpaved side of Col du Joly – through Les Contamines ski slopes. Then I tested my fear of heights heading much higher to Aguille Croche (“quavering needle”).
From Les Contamines village, the road becomes unpaved almost immediately. It’s a bumpy but adequate gravel farm road all the way to the Col. Hard work at times, but always quiet and super scenic – with the Mont Blanc massif dominating the views.
Nearing Col du Joly there is a nice reservoir which I assume is for the snow-making machines during ski season:
I’ve climbed this side of Joly on a mountain bike before but used a different, but also superb route. See here.
Someone had knocked the Col du Joly sign down. But I needed my summit photo!
From the Col, heading away from Mont Blanc is a a very bumpy ski-lift service road that heads higher, and higher.
The Aguille Croche peak the a high point ( 2,487 metres) of the ridge that extends from Saisies ski station. The road magnificently reaches all the way to the top of a chairlift just below – at 2,435 metres. There is a nice little orientation table labelling all the peaks. Fabulous views:
There was a path to the ridge just below.
I had a look over the side. Wow, I felt vertginous. So, I ended my exploration here, with a quick staged photo. It didn’t seem too safe an idea to go any further ;).
I descended a different route. Again, just fabulous views.
I loved this ride. While extremely difficult at times, it’s such a beautiful, and remote location.
Quiet / No traffic