Col de l'Echelle s(u)
aka Colle de Scala

This pass is an attractive alternative to the high traffic route over Col de Montgenevre, between Italy and France. Or you can brave the traffic and construct a day loop over both of them. Considering the fact, that this is the lowest pass crossing between the two countries in the western alps, it is surprising that this is a remote low traffic route. Apparently it has none of the historic significance of nearby Col de Montgenevre. But on a bike, this is clearly the better route.


1.(500m,00.0km)START-END EAST: Susa
2.(1050m,22.7km)route goes right; left goes to Col Montgenevre
3.(1260m,36.5km)Bardonecchia
4.(1762m,48.5km)TOP: Col de l'Echelle
5.(1350m,65.4km)route joins N94 from Col Montgenevre
6.(1250m,69.5km)START-END WEST: Montgenevre

Approaches

From East.
Below Quix, the Mount Cenis (Frejus) tunnel traffic separates from the Col de Montgenevre traffic. This route follows the traffic to the tunnel. But most of the cars are on the parallel autostrada, while this road follows the railtracks, and so traffic is light. Meanwhile the border peaks grow in stature and a train rumbles by now and then.

Bardonecchia seems to have a lot of bicycle traffic. Also apparent - many buildings featuring non rectangular architecture - very modern looking in a hip sort of way. Somehow it makes a very innovative first impression. After leaving Melezet on a rusty old one way metal bridge, that can be used nicely to frame photos, the scheme of this road becomes quickly clear. A few zig zag road cuts become visible, somewhere up there, between the valley and those tea kettle shaped peaks above. The road crosses into France, and soon you are on the first zig. The best views on this ride are (during the particular light conditions that I had) up the "Right Hand Fork" as this valley is called. It has a keyhole like mountain standing watch past its entrance. But gazing down at Bardonechia, cows grazing in front of town town like specks of dust,  the view of 3350m Pta Sommeiller behind is almost as good. There is a one way bike route up to a pass in that area.

The Col de l'Echelle road enters a quick succession of two short tunnels, with an adventurous perch separating them, and quickly crests at a sign saying "Col de l'Eche. Something must have happened to the "lle". But as it turns out, the pass itself is a little lower than the actual summit point, which comes a little later.


looking back up the Ruisseau de la Valee Edroite, all of which is located completely in France

From West. The road now rolls along a fairly narrow high valley, with alpine grasses filling the space between the loosely spaced needle trees - a very park like scenery.  A gently winding descent through the trees leads to a grassy valley. In Saint Hypolite, another mountain spur joins in, to continue downvalley along every curve of the river. The gentle roll down the Valle de Pres, requires pedaling downhill. Val des Pres is the last quiet town, clustered around a solid church steeple before the main road to Briancon. The last few km on the profile are in common with the high traffic approach to Col de Montgenevre.

A Dayride with this point as intermediate summit is on page Col De Montgenevre

 




^ bottom left: Ruisseau de la Valee Edroite on the eastern approach
   bottom right: looking back to Bardonechia from a rickety old one lane bridge on SP216
   all other: Valee des Pres on the western French side

V - a one way bike route also goes up to a pass on the left of the summit of Monte Someiller (~3300m), seen straight ahead at the back of the valley behind the villagage Bardonecchia


 


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