Col du Glandon

Together with the nearby Col de la Croix de Fere, this pass lies at the center of cycle racing activity in the western alps. The two passes are associated so closely, that sometimes going over the Col de la Croix de Fere is described as an approach to this pass, and that even though Croix de la Fere is then the highest point. - Not so on this page. Below are the only two approaches for wich Glandon is the highest point.

But it's not only these two summits that provide for heavy cycling traffic in the summer. It's also the surroundings, the climbs of Bourg d'Oisans to the south, as well as Col de Madeleine to the north.

One special thing about Col du Glandon is a long stretch above tree line in a high alpine valley. The road has a smooth surface. During my traversal on a day in June cyclists outnumbered motorcycles by at least 20 to 1. Those outnumbered cars again by maybe 10 to 1.



01.(00.0km,710m) START-END SOUTH: D44 crosses the Romanche, west of Bourg d'Oisans
02.(03.4km,766m) D44 crosses Lac du Verney on dam, north of Allemond
03.(13.2km,1269m) Rivier d'Allemont
04.(15.9km,1222m) intermediate low point, road crosses l'eau d'Olle
05.(22.6km,1689m) road reaches Lac de Grand Maison
06.(24.8km,1785m) intermediate high point
07.(26.0km,1722m) intermediate low point
08.(28.8km,1897m) profile turns left; straight continues to Col de la Croix de Fere
09.(29.0km,1924m) TOP: Col du Glandon
10.(40.0km,1088m) Saint Colomban des Villards
11.(41.3km,993m) le Plan Champ and upper turnoff to Saint Alban des Villards
12.(43.0km,880m) lower turnoff to Saint Alban des Villards
13.(50.2km,448m) START-END NORTH: road approaches river l'Arc in la Chambre

Approaches

From South. This side is also a tour of damns. Right past Allemond the road crosses the first one. Judging from the number of bicycles I saw around town, even more cyclists call Allemond their vacation home than Bourg d'Oisans. The bike traffic on the damn is heavy. In cool morning shade the Chaine de Belledonne looms to the left, still snow covered in mid June. But the road remains below in the forest. The first interesting views come just before reaching le Rivier d'Allemond. Here the road makes a very noticeable descend to cross Eau d'Olle below. Above the Grand Pic de Belledonne (2978m) looms over the mass of green hills.

After this little chance for relaxation the climb becomes quite steep, but it still follows the bottom of the canyon fairly closely. A little further up only a few switchbacks elevate the road to the level of the next damn. The road doesn't cross this damn, but walking out on it a short distance, gives a particularly good vantage point on the just traversed switchbacks. The backdrop to the lake is quite a spectacular mountain wall. Sevaral peaks in it reach over 3400 meter.

Col du
                                    Glandon
southern approach to Col du Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fere from summit of Glandon

After climbing the bare slopes above the damned lake, the road descends again, almost to lake level. Ahead you can see a long bare valley, shaped like a gigantic roof gutter, the road weaving back and forth in it, much like the path of ball rolling down from the edge of a giant inclined half pipe would take. At the junction between the tops of Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fer stands a solitary restaurant. From here the top of Glandon is less than 50 meters higher. Glandon is really a shoulder point on Croix de Fer.

From North. (described downwards) The interesting high peaks scenery remains on the west side, These peaks in the Belledonne Range top out at just below 3000m. This road is quite a bit narrower and curvier than the other side. Several picturesque villages all surnamed "des Villards" appear in close distance to the road, without that the road passes through them. Colomban des Villards is the most obvious one and has the most interesting mountain backdrop.

But the side road over St Alban des Villards gives an opportunity to climb several hundred feet more and see the valley from its hillside villages. The road threads between St Alban and its church, and then descends again to the main road. From this intermediate top it's still a 2500ft roll down through the forest to Ste Etienne de Cuines.

There is a tourism office next to the main road in Colomban, but no grocery store along the entire approach. The closest thing is a Intermarche supermarket in St Etienne de Cuines, slightly west of the end point of the approach.

Col du
                                    Glandon, just north of summit


Historical Notes.

The first road over the pass was opened in 1898. In 1908 it was connected to the Col de la Croix de Fere.

Between 1947 and 2012, the pass was reached on 12 stages of the Tour de France. Many of these routes continued to climb to the Col de la Croix de Fere.
 

A day on an extended tour:

(<Col de la Morte|Col de la Madeleine>)
Col du Glandon:
Bourg d'Oisans > Allemond > Col du Glandon > St Alban des Villards <> out and back shopping trip to bottom of valley in St Etienne de Cuines: 47.3miles with 7010ft of climbing 5:41hrs (VDO MC1.0 m4:12.6.15)

A dayride from the endpoint of this day, St Etienne de Cuines, is on page: Col de la Croix de Fere

back to Cycling Passes in Europe

 




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