Another day with similar weather, and the only thing making me feel more comfortable was the lower altitude this day. Still the first climb would take me up to Plan d’Aval/Barrage du Plan d’Amont (2012m/2078m). It was not raining at start, but it was damp and cloudy and got a little rain even this morning on the climb, but not enough to stop.
First I took the road to Aussois over Croix des Murets (1512m) and turned off at Plan de la Croix (1524m) where the sometimes steep road to Plan d’Aval and Barrage du Plan d’Amont starts. The climb was all fine and I was happy the weather didn’t stop me. The asphalt ends at a parking at 2012m (sign Plan d’Aval 2015m at the start of the parking where the asphalt ends and 2020m at the fork with the road down to the first dam which was also asphalted).
I took the gravel road going up to the Barrage du Plan d’Amont (2078m) and after coming just below the dam building the road gets bad and I had to walk up the last part from here. Goats on the way up there to talk to and a few tourists.
Luckily the heavy clouds I saw up here started to depart upon my arrival, but not enough to get really good views, but it was good enough for me to see parts of the mountains where fresh snow had come down yesterday.
Walked a little bit on the gravel road along the lake, but soon went back after this and the next photo below.
It was almost starting to get good weather up here and maybe it would have if I had stayed around.
Cloudy views down over the Maurienne valley and the Barrage d’Aval below.
After a much less pleasant descent to Aussois, I continued down the Maurienne valley and eventually it got a bit warmer.
I think I stopped in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne for a coffee and cake before starting on my next climb.
From Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne (568m) it is a 957m climb to Maison Forestière de l’Oullaz (1524m), which I deemed to be a pass without a pass name and thus wanted to visit. The road looked a bit exciting too, but the weather was less than exciting this day. Still no rain on the climb. I climbed the very straightest road up there and it turned out to have a gravel section that I honestly cannot recommend that you try even in good weather (the asphalt detour is also not so long).
The road is sometimes quite steep higher up and then almost flat as one contours the mountain over to the flank just above Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne where this “flank-pass” is located. The asphalt ends after a short steep ramp up and the slightly down to the Maison Forestière de l’Oullaz in the photo here. (There is asphalt on the way down the other side on a road, but it ends soon afterwards and there are only difficult paths down the other side, I think.)
Unfortunately only cloudy views back from where I came up here this day. There was a little rain in the air.
This is the last stretch where it starts to get flat. There are a few metres of gravel on this section that is not very well-maintained (as the road sign also hint at).
I went down again on the asphalt road this time to meet the main road continuing up toward La Toussuire (1732m). On the way up there the road goes a little down to meet another road coming up that goes more directly to La Toussuire. Then passing by another more dubious flank pass, Le Collet (1298m) before the road climbs steadily up meeting the most direct road to La Toussuire and then one soon comes around a small mountain and comes to the pass above this mountain a bit above the walking pass – Col des Trois Croix (1508m). I also walked the 50m from the road up to the walking pass to see the sign for the pass, in the photo here.
Here in the photo you reach the pass on the road just a few hundred metres ahead and a little higher up (should be enough to get here to claim this pass and this way is likely more used anyway as there is a gravel road taking off here).
I continued up to La Toussuire where it drizzled a little and was more chilly (of course). I went up to the youth hostel in the upper part of the village which is where the highest asphalted road here goes. The photo here is from just below that point. No far reaching views here this day.
La Toussuire is also a famous finish destination for the Tour de France and thus an appropriate photo here of a list of stages ended here and the winners. The small stone also states the height of 1686m (a bit lower than the end of the road).
I had thought about taking a short-cut over a gravel road pass to the road up to the Col de la Croix de Fer (2064m), but in this weather it was not very interesting, so I decided to simply go down the asphalt road to meet the main road up there. Now I got into serious problems, but was not quite aware of the seriousness at once.
I got a flat suddenly at Le Corbier, but was fortunate to be able to stop without problems. The worst part with the flat was that my bicycle was quite dirty now after these bad weather days (and some gravel stretches), but slowly got a new tube on and got a decent amount of air in there to be able to go down, but I always hate to descend after only having pumped the tyres up with my little hand-pump as it does not give much confidence without the right pressure on the descents. So luckily I went a bit slow down and after a short while I wonder what strange sound that seemed to come from the brakes or the wheel. The wheel was straight and nothing else was odd at first glance. Now the tyres were quite dirty on the outside so I had not looked very carefully on them. I thought this was strange and not sure if I had another flat or if I just stopped to check after going down some somewhat steep curves. Then noticed that the brake pads had slid down to cut open the tyre and the tube was outside quite a bit – that could have ended really bad!
I was close to a place that also turned out to be little hotel in Villarembert (Le Grillon) so even if it was an hour early or so for me to stop for the day, I decided there was not much use in walking down many kilometres to the city this late, so asked for a room and it was a good place and they even agreed to get me down to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne for an agreeable price (the man was also a taxi driver …). Here eating a great dinner with very nice cheese!