Cormet de Roselend

This pass road seems to be on many favorite lists. It is the closest paved road to the west side of the Mont Blanc Massif, but you only catch a view of it at one particular place. On the other side of the pass is the lower Beaufontain group of mountains. This road stays above treeline for a long time. On both sides approaches lead through deep glacially cut gorges.

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1.(00.0km,804m) START-END WEST ALT: Bourg Saint Maurice, near river l'Isere
2.(01.1km,812m) START-END WEST: Bourg Saint Maurice, turnoff to Cormet de Roselend
3.(13.9km,1545m) turnoff to les Chapieux and ville des Glaciers
4.(20.2km,1968m) TOP: Cormet de Roselend
5.(28.4km,1605m) Col de Meraillet on the shore of Lac de Roselend; also turnoff to Col de Pre
6.(40.4km,743m) START-END EAST: Beaufort
7.(50.6km,543m) Queige and turnoff to Col de la Forclaz
8.(59.0km,348m) START-END EAST ALT: Albertville, bridge over Arly

Approaches

From South. Three pass roads converge in Bourg St Maurice, Kleiner Sankt Bernhard Pass (Col du Petit St Bernard), Col d'Isere and Cormet de Roselend. Unlike the other two, the approach to Cormet de Roselend starts climbing immediately upon leaving the roundabout outside town, and enters the massive gorge of the Versoyen. Framed by a V made of trees and rocks, a snowy peak on the south of N90 slowly grows in posture as the road rises.

That was only the first part of the workout. The road levels out a bit and enters a high alpine valley, still with vertical walls. Another ice dissected peak manages to creep into view at the head of a valley on the right side at "les Chapieux". There is a junction with a dirt road and this is also the site of a fairly primitive looking, but expensive auberge. The pressures of tourism here may be higher than first suspected. Surprise - the ice dissected peak is really a flank of Mont Blanc. Now the "pressures of tourism" part starts to make sense too.

Continuing past les Chapieux, the road turns east and climbs a breadloaf shaped mass far above treeline. The top is a wide tundra gap with the most impressive peaks on the south side, Aguile de Grand Fond. Surprisingly all the peaks in that group are still well below 3000m. On top of the pass is a small parking lot and maybe a portable souvenir/ham shop.

Cormet de Roselend

From North. (described downwards) This side is not quite as stark looking, but maybe even more scenic. You can see various block shaped mountains in the distance falling away like a staircase. After the road passes two restaurants it descends to the Roselend Reservoir. Unless it's getting late too early, this is a chance to relax (from the strenuous downhill). The road makes its way to a picturesque chapel opposite a waterfall on the opposite side of the lake. It's almost a little too picturesque. It looks like it has been put up just for photgraphic purposes. In a way it was, and in another way it was not. It is a reconstruction of a chapel that was submerged in the reservoir. The reconstruction is authentic but the location appears contrived.

Just when leaving the lake the road passes a point labeled "Col de Maraillet" on the map. It is a shoulder point on the paved route, and I can't find a second approach to this pass on the map, so it remains somewhat of a mystery.

After turning away from the reservoir, and the route up Col du Pre, there is one more great view from the edge - and then the road descends into a massive V cut gorge, using many forested switchbacks. At the bottom waits a small picturesque tourist town. Beaufort has two hotels, one small grocery store and no gites. The road continues to descend in the valley to Queige and Albertville.

Historical Notes

Before the reservoir came the town. The town of Roselend was already a tourist destination. It had three hotes for wealthy tourists. Between the time that the land for the damn was sold, to the time that the damn was actually filled to maximum capacity with water, 29 years passed (1949-1978). Prior to this major water storage facility, there was already a smaller reservoir at this location.

Cycling - Tour de France: The race crossed the summit 10 times between 1979 and 2009.

A day on an extended tour:

(<Col de la Madeleine|>)
Cormet de Roselend:
Aime > Bourg St Maurice > Cormet de Roselend > Beaufort > Queige: 51.8miles with 5190ft of climbing in 5:21hrs (VDO MC1.0 m4:12.6.18)

Dayrides from the endpoint on this day, Queige, are on page:
Cormet d'Areches
Col de l'Arpettaz
Col des Saises
Colle de Tamie

 

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