This is the highest I have ever been on a bike – 3158 metres. Woohoo!
Col du Jandri is the second highest road – paved or unpaved – in Europe (Pico del Veleta in Spain is the highest). It is a service road for the various ski lifts and cable cars of Les Deux Alpes ski station.
I started just below Les Deux Alpes. However, you could add 11 kilometres and another 700+ metres of ascent by starting down the main road in Clapiers (the same valley as Bourg d’Oisans).
From Les Deux Alpes the paved road soon ends, becoming a decent quality gravel road for the entire route. Although signed as closed to motor traffic, there was the very occasional car/truck, mainly service vehicles.
This was my 4th time reaching 3000+ metres by bike. The best of the four is probably Colle del Sommeiller because of it’s beauty and given the entire route is ride-able. But Mont Chaberton is a vertiginous adventure, and Col du Caron is very fun as well.
The first few kilometres hairpin up the side of ski slopes above town. Several ski lifts and cable cars were open, most providing lazy downhill mountain bikers a ride up … all the way to the summit. While generally they stayed on groomed VTT trails, I would be passed by the occasional descender all ride.
Next, above 2000 metres the road heads into the mountains.
I passed a few lakes on the way up including these two dams/lakes at roughly 2300 metres.
This is a steep climb, but a strong cyclist could likely cycle the entire way. Me? I pushed a few times, but never for too long – although the last steep stretch required some rest. 🙂
Another lazy downhiller:
It was partly cloudy but clearly there are great views in every direction – even as the road was through a fairly stark, rocky environment.
Eventually, I could see the summit. High in the distance:
At the summit is the top of a cable car, and a restaurant. It is also the foot of the Glacier de Mont-de-Lans. There is a rope tow here and while it wasn’t running there is occasionally summer skiing here.
I couldn’t find a Col du Jandri sign at the summit, but the col is just before the road ends. I have seen conflicting altitudes but believe it is 3151 metres, and IGN marks the foot of the glacier as 3158 metres.
And best of all the bar “Le 3200” was open. I got a strange look from the bartender when I ordered a coffee and a beer. But I badly needed both.
This is a huge climb that has been on my lost forever. And it didn’t disappoint.
My only regret was perhaps not waiting until early September so I could enjoy the road by myself – without the noise of the ski lifts and the distraction of the downhill bikers.
Note, this ride also crosses Col des Gorses – 2550 metres. See map below.
The second highest road in Europe. Wow.
Quiet / no traffic
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This ride is also on my wishlist. Do you think it’s possible with a cyclocross bicycle?
Jeroen, A mountain bike would be best. But yes, I think a cross bike would be “OK.” No problems going up.
As long as you don’t mind being a little more cautious descending as the descent would be a little bumpy.
But the road is less rough than say either Mont Chaberton or Strada dell’Assietta.
What a coincidence, i was in Les Deux Alpes yesterday because i really wanted to do the climb up to Col Du Jandri.
After spending a week on my roadbike on the climbs around Bourg d’Oisans, i wanted to go out in style…
Unfortunately everywhere i went there were no mountainbikes available, as they were all rented out.
I figured with all the shops there, i did not need to make a reservation and just show up when i felt like it.
After walking around Les Deux Alpes for a while and getting nowhere, i decided to leave.
Got back in my car and drove for some 14 hours…back home to the Netherlands.
Hopefully next year !!!
Anton, that’s a shame
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That’s wild. A mate and I did Jandri today, a year after the blogpost that inspired me to do it. Thank you.
I have to say, I’ve got to tip my hat to you for some of the rides you do, based on this ‘epic’. We rode from Bourg d’Oisans up the D220 to join the Les Deux Alpes road (much quieter). Then when we got to the start of the climb, ‘shit got real’!! You reckon the road was ‘good quality gravel’!! I have to slightly disagree, ONLY because I was on 28mm Roubaix Pro tyres, which in themselves are hardy, but probably not quite enough coupled with the 34/32 gearing combo!!!
All in all, it was a fantastic day. I can say that now, after the ‘hops based sports drink window’ has been well and truly used!!
I did end up getting the cable car back down to Les Deux Alps, due to safety issues.
Thanks again for recommending.
Congratulations Phil, very well done. That’s a good idea to use skinnier tires but descend on the cable car 🙂 – said a guy that sucks at descending. Wow, you did the full climb from Bourg? Chapeau, fantastic.
Hi Will, do you think this climb could be done on a road bike?
Matthew, I don’t know – my usual answer to questions like this is “it depends how fussy you are.” It’s gravel for a long, long way. It gets a touch messier up top. But as the photos show, much of it was fairly smooth. But that’s no guarantee it’s always this smooth. For me, it’s definitely a mountain bike climb ….. and a mtb also makes the descent far more fun.
I could almost see doing it on a road bike, and …. in summer if open, taking the cable car down.
Me and my wife made today an ascent from Le Bourg d’oisans to Col de Jandri with mountain bike. It was very beautiful, but for all of you who ask if it is possible to go up by road bike- no, unless you want to push your bike a lot. Firstly, the gravel road was very dry and occasionally hard to ride even with the mountain bike. I made it without a single stop to the top and was very happy about it. My wife needed to go off on 4 occasions because of slippery terrain (and my wife is a tough one). Secondly, riding road bike with even compact gears at 3000m altitude at inclines of about 20% would be very hard, especially on the gravel sandy road.
So, if this is suitable for road bike, than we dont need mtbs for climbs.
Did this one last week on my trusted fatbike. Very cool to cycle up to this height, had no problems with thin air. Did have trouble cycling all the way up. Consider myself a reasonable strong cyclist but had to push quite a lot on the steep parts with loose rocks. You have to be a beast of a cyclist to never get off the bike! Mixed feelings about the beauty of the climb. Yes, the height garantuees awesome views but all the machinery, elevators and a lot of ‘lazy’ downhillers make it difficult to really enjoy this very special climb…
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Rode this climb with a couple of mates on CX bikes last week. Wow, what a ride (with some walking on the 20%+ sections). There was quite a bit of construction traffic working up there but it was fine.
Riding through the clouds into the sunshine was a treat.
I doubt you could ride it on a road bike comfortably. The construction traffic had made a mess of the tracks.
Thanks so much for detailing this ride. We had a real blast!
I am a fan of you and in this two weeks I will try some of yours with my gravel bike. Today I arrived at Les-Deux-Alpes and checked the very start of your track from former 30-highest-unpaved-roads: I am really impressed that you have been able to ride this. I wanted to say that I have to cheat and made a plan with only service roads and now I just realized that on your new website the track has changed to service-roads. Tomorrow will be my day and I see how much I can ride.
My mistake: I mixed your track with my komoot track, which chooses the direct way: today afternoon I will know how much is rideable for me.
Uphill with 35 mm tyres on a gravelbike is ok, but downhill I was shaken quite hard, although it was no real gravel but a highly compacted road. Instead of rain-soking it was dust-breathing because of the big trucks with 2 m wheels driving up and down for preparing the winter season, but no other bikers.
But I am glad to have make it up to the top and the cable car buildings on the left side are even about 10 height meters higher than the ones on the right side, especially if you climb up to the small gravel hill.