Col des Posettes and Col de Balme


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.

Heading higher

Heading higher

Glacier du Tour high on right

Glacier du Tour high on right

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).

Above Col des Posettes

Above Col des Posettes

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.

Above Col de Balme

Above Col de Balme

View of Lac / Barrage d'Emmoson

View of Lac / Barrage d’Emmoson

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.

9.3 Awesome

A beautiful, beautiful place to mountain bike.

  • Views 9.5
  • Difficulty 8.5
  • Quiet / No Traffic 10
  • Fun Factor 9
  • User Ratings (1 Votes) 10

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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. 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:

  2. Pingback: Col de Balme and Col des Posettes

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