One of my very favourite winter alps climbs. Save this ride for a sunny day and the views are simply fantastic.
From Thônes, I first climbed the lovely, little-known, and very steep Col de Plan Bois.
Warning, in winter this road is often not very well cleared and thus the steep stretches can be quite slippery. Great views of La Tournette, the mountain behind me (Lake Annecy is behind it).
The first kilometre on the other side of Col de Plan Bois is not ploughed in winter. I hiked through the deep snow. This is the path:
If hiking through snow is not your thing, as long as there has been no recent snow, the direct route up to Col de la Croix Fry – the way I descended (see map) – will be fine for a road bike. Last February, I used a road bike for a similar route but excluded Plan Bois and added Col des Aravis. Details here.
The rest of the steep descent is in shade and very slippery. I gingerly descended with a foot often on the ground. This is not for the faint of heart.
The fun starts again once the road turns up towards Col de la Croix Fry. The views of the huge l’Etale and it’s surrounding mountains make this a magical ascent:
At Col de la Croix Fry, there was lots of activity at the Manigod ski station. I continued on the not difficult little extension to Col de Merdassier along snowy but not icy roads.
Doubling back to Col de la Croix Fry, I had a coffee at one of the restaurants while dressing myself for the very cold descent:
As usual, this annual winter pilgrimage left me smiling.