Grand Col Ferret
Grand Col Ferret Height Climbing height
2537m 1823m (Sembrancher); 1636m (Orsières)
1311m (Courmayeur)
Difficulty Beauty
4 (5) 5 (5)
How to get there There is not an even remotely cyclable road across this pass. However, it is a grand crossing near the Mont Blanc massif. I also managed to get from cycling to cycling again in less than 1 hour and 45 minutes on my road bike! Do not try this unless the weather is likely to be good all the way! You have to have some arrangement so you can walk decently (like some good sandals, though all tend to weigh a little too much for my taste). There are probably some snow to cross on the north Swiss side and the south Italian side is STEEP (around 30% on a rutted path with some dangerous places). People I met said it would not be possible to get down on the Italian side with a bicycle (thankfully they were wrong). The climb starts above Sembrancher (714m) in Orsières (901m) on the north side. After getting up the lovely valley to where the asphalt ends, a gravel road descends right and crosses a small river. Follow this. It is mostly cyclable up to a mountain hut, but the road is steep and the bends are bad. From the hut there is a path (time for better shoes) which is easy (sometimes with alternatives) but still demanding. There is only one place where you could possibly hurt your self on this side, but it is no big problem. At the pass you do not see where the path down goes as it is too steep. In fact you never see more than some meters ahead before you come down nearer to the rifugio Èlena at Pré de Bard (2062m). You have to take extreme care with every step down this path, but if you do it, it is not extremely difficult, nor very scary. (Carrying or not depends on your technique and experience. You have to half-carry anyway.) The rough road is just about cyclable from there until the nice asphalt road takes you down in the lovely valley to Courmayeur (1226m). Absolutely great! N: R1-2, S2-3; S: R1-2, S4.
Other comments There are several good bars higher up the Swiss Val Ferret! Expect the walking to take up to 3 hours. You might also wish to explore the nearby peak at the pass in good weather to get even better views!
[CH-VS-2537c]