It Can Get Icy in Winter — La Barillette / La Dole


How does a 32 kilometres bike ride take over 5 hours? Ice, Ice, more ice, snow, hiking, etc.

Sometimes great rides require a bit of sacrifice.

The price of this amazing Jura mountain climb above Geneva was a pretty treacherous descent.

It never occurred to me that it would be possible to ride to La Barillette in winter (or even spring) – until I saw Bastien’s incredible photos – see here. I, of course, was insanely jealous. 😉 And when I showed the photos to Eric, there was no choice but to try and climb it.

La Barillette - What a View


To be clear, this is not a winter climb for the faint hearted. This steep 12 km climb is icy immediately – the instant it enters the woods. Even Eric considered turning back. Frankly, only idiots would cycle here. But whenever there was a light snow covering, or by riding on the edge of the road, it was “possible” to usually ride.

It was another pea soup day in Geneva, but we soon got above the clouds. The distant Alps views were so beautiful that we forgot that the descent would be near suicidal.

Luckily about half way up, the road surface was snowier and less icy.

Going up to La Barillette / La Dole

At La Barillette, we decided to hike to Col de Porte (deep snow – no bikes sadly). It was a lot further than it looked, but the views? Amazing.

Col de Porte

I won’t say much about the descent, except to say the first half was difficult but fun, and then …… see the above video again.

tour cycliste 113533 – powered by Bikemap 

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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Et voilà vous avez succombé à la tentation 😆

    “Only idiots would cycle here” On est au moins 4 à l’avoir fait… Et je pense que ça valait le coup de venir de Lyon pour ça (mais oui !).

    Bien joué pour le Col de Porte, il est noté à 40 min de mémoire; donc avec la neige c’est même plus et ça ne doit pas être évident… Nous n’avons pas eu le temps pour y monter, car le temps de grimper au Chalet de la Dôle le soleil se couchait déjà; ça nous a permis d’expérimenter la descente de nuit sur du verglas … 😆

    Vous n’avez pas été au Col du Vuarne également ? Il est entre la Barillette et la Dôle, visible du Chalet, par exemple.

  2. Will have a look here : Do you recognize the 2 signs for the “nr.5 hiking path”? I think we did pass the Col du Vuarne without really paying enough attention to the sign 🙁 Well we can always go back…yes we can! I found the coordinates for Col du Vuarne on the internet and checked it against your bikemap track. Spot on.

    Merci Bast, we didn’t realize, but we did pass the Col du Vuarne. Honnêtement, je suis fière de faire partie des 4 idiots! Toi pourtant, si tu es un idiot, alors en tout cas un idiot avec une bonne memoire puisque c’est effectivement 40 min pour Barillette-Col de Porte. Peut-être une idée pour un nouveau club de cyclos : le Club des Idiots Glacés?

  3. Eric,

    Great, in fact don’t you remember, I said to you that this was clearly a Col and we were going to name it after us ;). Unfortunately, it seems to already have a name.


    Merci mille fois pour l’inspiration. Tes photos sont magnifiques. And I have no idea how you descended the bottom of this climb in the dark!

  4. True Will, it was going to be “le Col de Will”. And I agree with you that Bast’s night time descend must have been amazingly tricky.

  5. Will,
    You are ever so slightly nuts.
    Not sure if you have tried it, but for filming, mount your camera phone on the handlebars with the mighty cable ties. It can make for some cool footage, up hill is a bit boring though.

  6. Dans la descente, vers le bas, j’ai senti que ma roue arrière n’était pas dans son état normal: j’ai cru à la jante qui était voilée peut être. Avec les gros chocs pour descendre sur la glace…
    En fait, en rangeant mon vélo à Lyon, j’ai vu que j’avais crevé !
    (comme quoi, descendre une route pareille sur le verglas ça doit mettre à rude épreuve le matériel…)

  7. Hi Thomas,

    ha, I have a helmet cam at the bottom of some drawer …. I may have to dig it out.

    Bastien: C’est mieux que tu ne l’a pas remarquer, car qui veut (et qui peut) changer le pneu en hiver?

  8. You should really try studded tires, ideal for that kind of road. You probably said it somewhere but the road is cleared for the people who work in the radar station at la Dole but it is closed to general circulation.

    I will have to try it out in a couple of weeks when i get back from holiday – currently my studded MTB wheels are down in Grenoble. They are pretty amazing though on hard snow and ice. I was also considering the Gex – Peron transversal route as a possibility.

  9. Pingback: La Dôle / La Barillette

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