Car-Free Day: Col de la Croix de Fer / Col du Glandon


Tuesday, as part of the Oisans Col series, Col de la Croix de Fer (both sides) and Col du Glandon were closed to traffic on the upper kilometres from 9am to noon.

See here for more car-free rides this summer around the Alps.

I know Glandon and the Maurienne side of Croix de Fer better as they’re closer to home, but I would start from Allemont at the base of the south side not too far from Alpe d’Huez. The last time I climbed this was the 2010 La Marmotte Cylosportive.

Today, I started just below the Lac du Verney dam (see map at bottom). The road crosses the dam and then runs beside the lake. Luckily I looked behind me and had this view:

The start of the climb to Col de la Croix de Fer

The 2018 Tour de France will be descending this side of Croix de Fer during stage 12. Their descent will include a couple of brief but serious uphill stretches. So for me, while climbing I had a couple of downhills to catch my breath.

Perhaps ten kilometres from the summit is the Barrage(dam)/Lac de Grand’Maison.

Barrage / dam in view

People who follow this website closely know that I love climbs to high alpine lakes/dams. And it’s a beautiful stretch of road here. The day before I had ridden the fabulous dead-end climb to Col du Sabot (2100 metres) – details here. From there I was able to see Lac de Grand’Maison. Here’s the opposite view:

The road goes beside the dam, not over it. But I always sneak onto a dam if possible. 😉

Standing on the dam

Hairpins just below the dam

After the dam, things are less steep, but it’s a beautiful environment.

Lac de Grand’Maison

Col du Glandon sits on the shoulder of this climb perhaps 3 kms from Croix de Fer. The turn off is only a few hunder metres from Glandon. It’s a favourite climb of mine. Here’s a post from last year where I took a bunch of drone photos. The final two kilometres are pure hairpin heaven. Today, I just rode down to the final hairpin for a few pics:


While setting up drone photo, a bunch of sheep came flying down the road. I hid on a hill while they ran for my bike. I tried to at least get a hairpin in the photo. Happily, my bike does not smell of sheep pee.

Next, I returned to the main road to visit Col de la Croix de Fer.

Here is a post describing six ways to cycle up Col de la Croix de Fer.

Almost at Col

Enjoying a beer beside La Croix de Fer (the iron cross)

I would descend back the way I came all the way down to Lac du Verney. Here, as shown on the map, I turned up to Oz Ski Station. As it was my first time up this nice little climb full of hairpins, I will do a short separate post describing the ride.

I absolutely love these traffic-free days. It is so peaceful and there is always a friendly, non-competitive ambience. Exactly at 12 noon, as I was descending, I could here an army of motor-cycles, several kilometres away, heading towards me. Oh, well. It was fantastic while it lasted. 🙂

A 3D video of the ride:


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. John Kempler on

    I hated that dip at 14 km. Glandon was tougher than I had expected – had a nice meal at the top as a reward

  2. Great pictures Will!
    I prefer the north side of the climb, I believe you do too because of the final 2 kilometres?
    Luckily those sheep didn’t push your bike down the mountain 😀

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