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Thread: Grand Alps - Early June

  1. #1
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    Grand Alps - Early June

    Thinking of an early June trip to RDGA and wanted some feedback.

    I know this is a bit early, some passes might not be open, and there is still a risk they could close at any time (as they can in July, August and September) I can plan several options for each day and having ridden the route twice I am not bothered about riding all of the passes.

    I am mainly interested in the middle section - but this also has most of the higher passes. I have read that the Galibier, Izoard and Bonette are normally closed until late June, is this pretty much guaranteed or just a rough estimate?

    Also what other interesting options skirt around these passes, for example could I take the Champs & Allos / Cayolle / Lombard & Larche instead of La Bonette or are all three alternate options likely to be closed?

    The Izoard is about 500m lower than the Bonette so is this far more likely to be open? the only alternative is main roads from what I can see.

    The Galibier also lacks any really interesting alternate routes which means main roads and then Col du Glandon - assuming these lower (circa 2000m) passes will all be open - that is pretty much my assumption....

    ...2300m+ unlikely to be open
    2000 - 2300m Probably open
    <2000m Almost certainly open

    Not looking for comments such as "why not go later", I just want a better idea of what to expect, for all the possible negatives there will be the chance to ride through large snow walls, discover new routes and see the Alps in a very different way so I am happy to take an educated gamble - just need educating

  2. #2
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    The best way to find out is.... to go.

    If the roads are shut and / or you can't get all the way across after manoeuvring past the barrier or because they have ripped up the road or they are iced over or (insert impediment to smooth progress of choice) you'll know.

  3. #3
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    Ive been before in June and found the high passes closed,This year they were open.

    Who knows ?

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    I was there (Bonette, Izzard & Galibier) late July this year & it was simply glorious.....

    I found this website which will give you a reasonable idea of what is open & where closer to your desired travel dates...

    http://www.alpenpaesse.co/?country=F
    Bounce

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  5. #5
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    Hi
    I went in late june few years back and found a lot of high passes shut,trouble is no short cuts around them and you end up going all the way back again from whence you came but as someone else pointed out there is no more sure way to find out until you give it a go,take some salt with you just in case, i think if i was going again i would go about mid July ,

    Dave

  6. #6
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    Thanks all for your comments so far

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave h View Post
    Hi
    I went in late june few years back and found a lot of high passes shut,trouble is no short cuts around them and you end up going all the way back again from whence you came
    There are a number of websites with very up to date information on what is open and what is closed There are also roadside signs that tell you the status of passes.

    I can check before leaving the Hotel for pretty up to date info on pass status and check the weather forecast, so if a pass is open before I set off and the forecast suggests it is unlikely to snow I should be able to reduce the chances of finding a pass I am "committed to" being closed on arrival.

    I will also be scheduling the routes with plenty of time to spare in case of turnarounds - might even decide to get all accommodation along the way so I have no commitments to cover a certain distance on any particular day.

  7. #7
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    This year I did a circuit from Grenoble, across to La Meije, over Galibier and back via Croix de la Fer and Glandon in later June. Very little snow left. IIRC, Galibier had been open since 2nd week of June but fuck knows if it will open that early next year.
    This space deliberately left blank as the author writes too much pretentious bollocks as it is.

  8. #8
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    Hi
    Sounds like you have it covered,

    Dave

  9. #9
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    Always went / tried to go over Bonette etc on return from Monaco F1, so late May. Been successful perhaps7 out of 10 times, check the websites....

    Have fun, not doing the F1 this year but hitting Picos and Pyrenees around the same time of year, fingers crossed

  10. #10
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    I went over Bonette in mid-June this year, it was closed overnight, opened at 10am, looked like a regular closure routine for that time of year. Went over as soon as the gates were opened and it was still a bit slippy up at the top, but definitely passable. Iirc Galibier and Izoard were ok as well.

    I used this site and found it completely accurate:
    http://www.sport-passion.fr/parcours/etat-cols.php

  11. #11
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    It is variable from year to year. I've been there in the first two weeks of June several times and always found some kind of disruption.

    The worst year, I was in Puget Theniers on June 8 (I remember because I was rushing to get back for my son's birthday) and most of the higher passes were shut. At breakfast in the hotel, the manager gave all the bikers a sheet of A4 with the passes listed: 17 in the southern section (basically between Gillestre and the Med) of which there were five open; 14 in the north, of which six were open. I managed to get north over Cayolle, d'Izoard and Croix de Fer, riding between snow walls that ranged from knee-high to over 2m (my height) in places. At one point on the Croix de Fer, the snow wall had collapsed after whatever plough had been through, so there was about a 4in gap of clear tarmac between the slew of snow and the non-armco'd edge of the road, with a pretty healthy drop beside it!

    This year I was there a whole two days earlier and almost everything was open and the only catch (on tarmac) was that while Col de la Bonette was open, the loop up to the summit (the 2802m high bit, rather than the actual pass) was still under snow (I was also trying to do the unpaved Parpaillon and that was blocked at the top, just short of the tunnel). But on the lower passes (Vars, d'Izoard, Mont Cenis) there was barely any snow on the verges, never mind snow walls.

    The ones to monitor, for me, are at the northern end. The alternatives to Aravis and Roselend are pretty dull valley roads and the real deal-breakers can be Col de l'Iseran and the Madeleine: the l'Iseran is the highest pass and often one of the last to open; not a huge disaster if the Madeleine is open (it's a short detour); but if that's shut as well, then it's a right slog back to Albertville and then round in the valleys. If Galibier is closed, you have alternatives over Mont Cenis, Croix de Fer or - if it comes to it - through the Frejus tunnel. If La Bonette is shut then Allos, Cayolle or both are likely to be open - and even if they are closed, swinging south from Digne on Route Napoleon's not exactly the worst consolation prize...

    ETA: a shameless plug - the story of my abortive ride over Col du Parpaillon (on a GS Rallye) is in the issue of RiDE that goes on sale on Wednesday. The route's downloadable too...

  12. #12
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    Fantastic stuff, especially from those who have been around this time of year in the past - Thanks.

    Pretty much what I was expecting / hoping for, which is probably a better than 50/50 chance on the highest passes and a much better chance on the rest, happy to give it a go, really comes down to sorting our holiday dates, only going to spend a few days in the mid section of RDGA so plenty of other good riding (two week trip) to not worry too much about the odd pass being closed, worth it for the different experience IMO.

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