Col du Telegraphe
This pass feels like a shoulder point to Col
. But there is a 175m descent on the west
side, which is more than enough for a real summit. Using
unpaved roads on the other side of the Valoirette Valley,
you can make the approach from this side yet larger. Even
though this pass often gets minor billing, when compared
with what comes afterwards - Telegraphe is the "lowely"
catgory 1, Galibier is the super "above" - hors
categorie, 50 percent of the total net elevation gain
between Saint Jean de Maurienne and the top of Galibier
belong to the Col du Telegraphe approach.
elevation profile for this summit is included on the Col
du Galibier page.
From East. In St Michel the signed
turnoff to this pass crosses the railroad line and the river
Arve. Then the road climbs into St Martin, with a great view
onto the opposing slope and the houses of upper St Michel. The
mountain Croix de Tetes (2497m) behind St Michel has such an
impressive face, that it looks impossibly steep. The wide road
soon disappears into forest and makes steady progress in gaining
elevation. Approaching the last few hundred meters of climbing,
windows in the forest open up periodically onto the two great
landmarks of the climb, Croix de Tetes, and also the optical
telegraph, standing on a protruding ridge over the pass. At one
point you can also survey the valley of the Arve upstream. The
top of the pass is in a forested curve, with a picnic area on
one side and an restaurant on the other.
the most imposing sight on this ride, and from the valley is
the "Croix des Tetes". It is "only" about
2400m tall, but is a sheer vertical cliff down to Saint
From West. (described downwards) A
slight slope lets the bike roll downwards along a traverse over
the Valoirette valley, its bottom disappearing below in a deep U
shape. Across the valley a dirt road can be seen connecting
villages on the others side of the gorge. I did not get a chance
to try this. But it looks like this would make an interesting
loop on a mountain bike, leading over an additional pass back
down into the valley of the Arve.
The transmission towers on the Fort du Telegraphe are cleary
visible from a large area. That is actually the reason that they
are there. This is still an occupied military fort. But the
location was first chosen as a prime spot to send messages with
articulating arms on a signal tower. In 1809 this was state of
the art communications, and much faster than the customary horse
rider between Lyon and Milan.
The fort was also in a second backup line of the "Alpine
Line" of defenses during WW2.