Col des Aravis via Col de la Croix Fry


The west side of Col de la Croix Fry is one of my favourite winter climbs. It is open all winter (ski station at summit), gets plenty of sun, and is simply beautiful as the snow covered L’Etale peak dominates the entire climb.

It’s an annual tradition to stop at the same hairpin above Manigod and take a view of L’Etale (see a decade worth of photos at this spot at bottom of post). This year’s edition:

The mountain peak is L’Etale

Great winter views

As the map below shows, I took a quick detour from Col de la Croix Fry to the dead-end Col de Merdassier – at 1501 metres, the high point of the route. Next, I descended the far side of Croix Fry and joined the Route des Grandes Alpes for a few kilometres up to Col des Aravis.

Often in winter I will climb Croix Fry via the fantastic and lesser known Col de Plan Bois – this tough detour rejoins Croix Fry at Manigod and thus still climbs the best parts of the climb. But Plan Bois has a half kilometre over the Col that is not cleared in winter and I wanted to use a road bike today. But see here for details of Plan Bois – recommended.

The north side of Aravis gets far less sun than Croix Fry but it’s been a heat wave here so not too cold and far less snow than usual.

I found some sun near the summit. Looks a little like the Dolomites:

It’s possibly to make a big loop, descending the far side of Aravis, through the gorge on the far side, returning via the Annecy bike path then Col de Marais – see the map in this 2016 post. But I realised I didn’t have a pump and got nervous of a flat given the gritty road and just doubled back. Still, 1500 metres of Alpine climb on a beautiful sunny day was a lot of fun.

A gallery of photos from the past 10 years all taken from the same location: 🙂


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Happiest while cycling uphill.

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