A challenging but beautiful little mountain bike ride above Argentière ski station near Chamonix.
I started at the bottom of the Col de Balme chair lift. The key to this ride is to survive the first 2 silly-steep kilometres on rocky, slippery ski-lift service roads. After this, things get much more fun, and ride-able.
At Col des Posettes (1997 metres), it is possible to descend down the other side – but at the right is the road higher to Col de Balme (2204 metres).
Col de Balme is the French / Swiss border. While today the road linking Chamonix and the Swiss Valais is much lower, via Col des Montets, historically this was the route taken – to avoid the then impassable gorges below. There is a little board with some history. For example French refugees crossing the Col in deep snow as defeated Napoleonic forces fled the Austrians.
From the Col, there is a trail higher up to the top of a ridge near the “Croix de Fer (2343 metres)”. Not completely rideable, but the views over the top are worth the effort. Especially the view of the dam and Lac d’Emosson – a favourite cycling destination of mine.
From here, I turned around. I could see trails (not a road – at least up high) down from Col de Balme that heads into Switzerland towards Col de la Forclaz. But I was looking forward to descending the roads I just climbed and the views of the mont Blanc Massif.
A beautiful, beautiful place to mountain bike.
Quiet / No Traffic
There are some fun trails to explore in that area. I once took my cyclocross bike up there and found a great route up from near Le Chatelard to Col des Posettes. I then also visited Col de Balme before descending down the valley and then heading back into the Val de Trient for more exploring. See my Strava data here: http://app.strava.com/activities/99417575
Route ideas always appreciated! 🙂
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