Col du Cucheron

This is the middle of three passes, on a route  running down the center of the Chartreuse Range. The Chartreuse is a range of massive limestone cliffs, containing picturesque, sleepy villages in the deepest parts of the valleys. I grouped the Chartreuse with the Alps, like the other western "prealps". But the range is also grouped with the Jura mountains (fr.wikipedia), even if they have an entirely different appearance.
There is also a Col de Grand Cucheron in the nearby Hurtieres foothills to the Belledonne Range.

1.(400m,00.0km) START-END WEST: les Echelles
2.(650m,11.5km)St Pierre D'Entremont, and jct with D912 on left to Col du Granier
3.(1140m,19.7km)TOP: Col Du Cucheron
4.(880m,22.9km)St Pierre De Chartreuse
5.(420m,34.2km)START-END SOUTH: Saint Laurent Du Pont

Approaches

From North.
The profile starts in les Echelles and climbs the Gorge Guiers Vif to St Pierre Entremont. Here you turn either 90 degrees right or left onto a road of passes running down the center of the Chartreuse mountains/plateau. For Col du Cucheron you turn right. The left goes to Col du Granier, which is just a few meters lower.

My favorite view along this route comes just after making this turn towards Col du Cucheron. Looking back the church is a orderly picture of a rectangle with tower, set against the chaos of a triangular mountain. The limestone hogback set on edge has a steep cliff on the (geological) strike slope, and uniform forest on the slip slope.

Climbing in irregular switchbacks, the road straightens out to pass another village, where no modern facades intrude - les Arragons, and then quickly gains the gap that has been visible from the road for quite a while. There are some skilifts here that blend in well with the scenery


From South. (described downwards) The road rolls down to the next valley town, that sits at the bottom of this Chartreuse roller coaster. From here you can climb Col de Porte, or exit the Chartreuse via the Gorge du Guiers Mort, as the profile does. The road dives in to deep forest, while up above ribbons of limestone cliffs are set on edge in various directions. Three relatively short tunnels follow in rapid succession, then a longer one. An industrial ruin lines the road and the canyon exits into St Laurent du Pont, which signals the return to a modern world with more tourists

Dayride:

Col du Cucheron , Col du Granier , Col de Couz : La Ravoire (south of Chanberry) > Col du Grand Granier > St Pierre Entremont > Col du Cucheron > St Pierre Chartreuse > St Laurent du Pont > St Laurent du Pont > D102 north > les Echelles > Col de Couz > Chanberry > la Ravoire <> several km out and back shoppint trip : 58.5miles with 5820ft of climbing in 5:31hrs (VDO MC1.0)


The last day with different start and end points over a pass on this tour is on page: D207 Aiguebelle - St Pierre de Belleville(s)

 


top: view with church and soccer field onto Le Grand Chenevey, above St Pierre d'Entremont.
below left: the bridge to the tunnel on the left is in the canyon towards St Laurent du Pont
bottom right: the unspectacular top

 
History:

Hannibal: In 218 BC, Hannibal was on his way from the Iberian peninsula, with his eye set on invading Rome. It may seem surprising at first that he would go through the Chartreuse, when it is surrounded by wide valleys with easier routes. But it is the shortest route from the east to the Valley of the Arve and onwards to Col du Mont Cenis. The route goes through the Hurtieres Valley with its foothills to the Maurienne Valley, bypassing nearby Aiguebelle. A number of geological finds verify this.

Cycling: Up to before the new century, the pass was a very popular Tour de France climb. It was 15 times part of a stage: 1947, 48, 51, 58, 61, 62, 65, 68 70, 71, 78, 83, 87, 89 and 98.




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