Le Cycle magazine calls Mont Colombis one of the toughest cycling climbs greater than 10 kilometres in France. It is in the same league of difficulty as Grand Colombier, Relais du Mont du Chat, and Col du Granon.
I was there for bike-only day sponsored by the Hautes Alpes tourist office. Only the last 6 kilometres were closed to cars …. but I saw only one car during the first six kms. This is a very quiet climb.
At the summit is a big telecommunications tower and great views – including Lac de Serre-Ponçon to the south.
I had forgotten my water bottle (subconsciously trying to lighten my load) but fortunately the event had free drinks at the summit. Thank-you very much. It was not very well attended, but as usual a cheerful collection of riders including a very charming old man loving his electric bike.
The road is completely paved but a dead-end. But, unlike everyone else, I had brought my mountain bike, so that I could descend an unpaved road down the back side of the mountain (see map below). This was a great decision. The unpaved route was excellent. Deserted, scenic, and occasionally quite bumpy – although the last few hairpin-filled kms were badly paved.
This is not the longest loop, but the climb is tough, and the unpaved descent back to the beginning very enjoyable.
One of the steepest paved climbs in France. But bring a mountain bike to enjoy the back way down.
Quiet / No Traffic