homeCol de l’Échelle/Colle della Scala
Col de l’Échelle/Colle della Scala Height Climbing height - length
1762m 558m - 21.4 km (Briançon); 502m - 21 km (Briançon north); 399m - 16.2 km (Clarée valley)
725m - 23.1 km (Oulx); 1412m - 46.1 km (Susa)
Difficulty Beauty
1-2 (5) South; 2-3 (5) North 4 (5)
How to get there

This pass and the slightly higher Le Mauvais Pas (1779m) are only 2.2 km apart on each side of the flat pass stretch. This pass is actually the lowest pass across the Western Alps. It is not used as much as the nearby Col de Montgenèvre/Colle del Monginevro (1850m) since it is only 71m less high and the Montgenèvre pass has a wide smooth road with easy gradients and is a much more direct link between France and Italy.

The easiest climbing starts from France in the highest town in the Alps, Briançon (1204m or 1260m), or further up on the road at the second of two alternative roads into Vallée de la Clarée (1389m) if coming down here from the Col de Montgenèvre. The climb only becomes a little steep when turning off the road through Vallée de la Clarée to Névache before reaching Névache at 1583m. From here a slightly rough and narrow asphalt road climbs through woods and in short time reaches the pass. There are no houses along this road and only an abandoned custom house at the top.

The climb via Bardonècchia (1258m) from Oulx (1067m) in the north is much more like an ordinary mountain climb with some steeper passages, but it is still a rather easy climb. Climbing all the way from Susa (500m) would be longer and harder climb. The road was better on the Italian side in 2002. The two unlit tunnels near the top requires care.

Other comments The road is quite nice at the pass height and the views from the higher section on the Italian side are very good! One can see all the way up to the Col/Colle Sommeiller (2996m) (one of the highest points in the Alps reachable by a bicycle) straight across Bardonècchia (see the unpaved roads section) and Monte Jafferau to the east. Probably the border went between the two passes at the top before the second world war – after the war Vallée Étroite became French just like some other border areas in the Alps. I recommend the nice old hotel Sommeiller in Bardonècchia (but it may have change since I was there in 2002).
[FR-05-1762]
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