Originally, I had planned to see the Tour de France today. But I am feeling un-social lately. So instead I mountain-biked up to some cols above/between Megève and Col des Saisies. The only thing spoiling the glorious silence? A bunch of damn (Tour de France) helicopters in the distance. 🙂
This challenging route visits 6 cols (all labeled on 2nd map at very bottom). The first two (Golet, 1480m and Col du Drayon, 1517m) I had never visited before. So there are a couple of very steep, difficult stretches early on as I tried to link them to the upper part of the climb. For example, I briefly found myself on ski slope – luckily a green piste! But the majority of the route is on rough, unpaved “roads.”
I had planned to include Col de la Butte (1880m) on the ridge “Le Crêt du Midi” just above Col du Drayon, but it seemed unrideable and a touch too much pushing. But, I’ve added the Col on the 2nd map below.
Thus, after Col du Drayon, I briefly descended before climbing up to the ridge with Col de Bassecombe (1885m) and Col de la Limace (1905m) directly beside each other.
Just above these two cols is another ridge. There is a direct route here to my next goal, Col de Véry. But I knew that if I crossed over the ridge and briefly descended I would enjoy a truly fabulous gravel road. The views beyond include a partially blocked Mont Blanc. Beautiful.
I absolutely love this stretch. The top of the gravel road is another pair of cols: Col de Véry (1962m), and just off the main path: Col de Croix Pierre (1973m). Spot the cyclist below:
Beyond Croix Pierre are hiking trails that head towards a favourite climb, Col du Joly, in the direction of Mont Blanc.
The beautiful Col du Joly is paved on the Beaufort side – details here. But I love the unpaved far side from Les Contamines. See details here. Note, one can get above 2400 metres above the col up the far side of Aiguille Croche, the big massif on the left in photo below.
I wandered above Col de Croix Pierre to the look-out point in photo below to consider a future adventure on this trail in the other direction to Joly/Aiguille Croche. Tough to tell, but I think it would include a fair bit of pushing although it is more of a traverse to Col du Joly than a climb. Maybe one day.
Here’s a view with my route on the far left:
Here’s an old photo from just below Aiguille Croche:
But instead I wandered back To Col de Véry and began the descent to Megève. The upper part of the descent is rough. A combination of gravel and briefly trails.
There is also a short uphill stretch to another Col: Pas de Sion (1855m). And some glorious views:
The descent is primarily ski-lift service roads. Eventually, I reached the Megève airport and the road becomes paved for the final few kilometres back to town.
This is a tough but satisfying route. I saw only a handful of hikers. And the views from the upper slopes are well worth the effort on the lower steep stretches.