If you don’t like a little bike pushing and carrying then you best ignore this post. This is NOT a road bike post. 🙂
Heading up into the Gorges du Borne (Evaux) from St-Pierre-en-Faucigny truly feels like entering the Alps from the very edge – the road eventually merges with the Route des Grandes Alpes. Both sides of this valley feature wonderful, deserted cycling climbs.
This route explores a little forestry road above Entremont (“between mountain”) in a search of Lac de Lessy. It’s only paved for the first kilometre or two then becoming a solid, single lane rocky road.
Steep! Really steep. Especially given the slippery surface. So even at my slow speed I gained altitude quickly.
Perhaps 5 kms up, I exited the woods and gained my first view of the Chalets des Mayse (the Col de la Forclaz is directly above):
I was able to pedal the entire route up until the Chalets, but from here I had to push most of the last 1.3 kilometres up to Col de la Forclaz.
“Forclaz” means narrow gap, and there are plenty of Cols in the north alps with this name. For a of couple of fantastic road-bike climbs to a Col de la Forclaz see here (Annecy) and here (Switzerland).
Immediately over the Col (1844 metres) I could see the alpine Lac de Lessy a little below. It’s a ride-able descent past the lake in this little alpine cul-de-sac. The more famous Col de la Colombière is on the other side of those mountains.
Fabulous views of the lake on one side and far below to the left I could see the fog and clouds covering everyone stuck down low.
From here I followed a hiking trail much higher to Col de Sosay at 1994 metres – maybe only a kilometre but hard pushing.
As I looked over the Col my heart sunk. North facing, there was snow and ice and steep ledges. No way I could continue.
But then I made one of my poorer decisions ever
on with a bike. There was a set of deep foot prints frozen in the snow. I decided to follow them while dragging the bike. Yikes. Ony a few hundred metres of scary stuff, but much of it spent sliding on my bum from foot print to foot print.
I made it, but was mad at myself for taking the risk.
I came down this. Far more treacherous than photo shows:
Anyhow. From here I was below beautiful, high, snow covered peaks. I had to hike down some tricky rock trails but eventually came out on the Cenise Plateau and a short ride to Col de Cenise.
Looking back from whence I came:
Finally, I descended the more traditional road from Col de Cenise to Petit-Bornand. It’s an amazing route, super steep, but I struggled because stupidly my brakes needed adjusting and I had no tool, and my front wire kept falling out. Bah.
I had a lot of fun on this loop. But again, it required a lot of hiking and pushing – but in a remote, usually unreachable place. Not everyone’s cup of tea.
If you don't like a little bike pushing and carrying then you best ignore this post. But if you are searching for a little adventure then this is a fabulous "ride."
Quiet / No Traffic
Beautiful photos as always Will. I’m starting to plan my next summer holiday, and the children want to vsit the Alps again, so the opportunity for me to bag a few of “your” cols…
Let me know if you want to run any route ideas by me for your trip.
Ghee Will, you are really hitting form this late in the year… makes me wanna get my mtb out of the box! Or leave it in the box and head straight back to Europe with it! LOL
Will, lovely pictures as usual. We actually stayed last summer in a very old listed ski lodge in Entremont that you can just about make out in the background of one of your pics. As a family we walked up to the lake and it was bloody steep. Chapeau!