Tour of the Alps 2016 – Tuesday June 28th

Chamonix — Col des Montets + Col de la Forclaz — Martigny to Oberwald (with train) — Furkapass/Pass dal Furca — Oberalppass/Cuolm d’Ursera — Disentis/Mustér (116.81 km, 2591m)

Col de la Forclaz

At the end of the short tour at the end of May I fell on a French train and fractured 1-2 ribs, so I still felt the pain when going down just a month later again to the Alps. All had been planned before the May trip though and I really didn’t want to cancel the Summer tour or relocate it later, so I went down and decided to take things easy and be very careful (falling again so soon after the accident was not really an option).

To summarize the cycling: 2572 km or 142.87 km/day for the days involving cycling (several short ones). 57471m of climbing, which means 3193m/day on average. Fairly good results in my opinion given that I had not been sitting on a bicycle at all since breaking the ribs a month earlier and still took some anti-inflammatory painkillers for lingering pain in the back and side. (Also it involves days with much train riding.) I had severe pains from saddle sore later after a few days, but eventually this got better again as with the pain in general which was much less of a problem toward the end of the tour. The weather was nothing much to complain about this year. Sometimes it was a little cold and sometimes quite hot, like on the L’Étape du Tour, but on the whole I would say I was rather lucky with the weather and also avoided the worst rain by taking two rest days after L’Étape du Tour.

Arrived late in Chamonix on Monday June 27th and got off slightly late in the morning trying to catch a train in Martigny I had already got tickets for. First passing over Col des Montets (1461m) and increasingly speeding up over Col de la Forclaz (1527m) in the photo here which I was really quick to stop and take. After a furious downhill (trying to be very careful and driving mostly in the middle of the road) I got confused at the train station and reached the correct train just as it started moving, so had to take a later local train and then missed the connection in Brig.


In Brig it was hot and I explored some direct road through the centre up to the main road to Simplonpass while waiting for the next train. Had a short lunch break (well just a pastry and coca-cola) and then got on the train which I had forgotten where it was to be found (outside the main station) and was searching for the station for 15 minutes after arriving in Brig before I found it (no signs at all for passengers suggesting where to find it and I looked the wrong way thinking it must the in the direction it went from the train station, but it is starting outside in to the left (”wrong direction”), so blamed missing the previous train on this, but was really two minutes too late with the local train anyway. Nice people on the train though, so no problem.

Took some photos out the train window in Oberwallis, which I have been cycling up and down several times before and there is only one narrow road with some traffic there and thought I could as well take the train here, but since I missed the train in Brig I would likely have been as fast up to Oberwald on the bicycle as with the next train (or faster). Still it was good as I needed to stop a little anyway to do so in Brig and then went straight once I arrived in Oberwald (1368m).


Nice perfect weather on the way up through Gletsch (1758m) in the photo here, where the road forks and most traffic goes over the Grimselpass (2164m). I was on my way to Andermatt and the road ahead climbs over the similarly nice Furkapass/Pass dal Furca/Col de la Furka (2429m), which I have climbed only once before in each direction (despite it being an obvious passage going east-west in the area) and only from Gletsch from this direction before). So at once I started with a nice +1000m climb – the sort of climbs that really ”counts”. (The combined climb over Col des Montets and Col de la Forclaz from Chamonix is only like 887m.)


Still lingering snow by the road side in late June up here even a bit below 2000m and it is always nice when there is some snow left up the mountains. Took it easy this year and allowed myself to stop for photos even on the way up … .


Here I am passing by the famous Hotel-Restaurant Belvédère (now closed, as increasingly is the case with so many old and good hotels in the Alps these days) and where the Rhone glacier used to come down near, but it has withdrawn quite some here (as in most areas of the Alps). However, the glacier cave tunnel is still open every year just nearby.


The classic view over the Furkapass and Grimselpass roads. Quite lovely!


Nice to be up here in good weather for once and could take some fine photos on both side of the pass. Here looking back at the pass.


And here looking toward Andermatt at the pass.


Hotel Furkablick is a classic building on the road down to Andermatt and it might be open partly as the sign suggests (but has been closed then and now in later times – cannot find any reliable information on the Internet about this).


A final photo then down toward Andermatt before continuing down the slightly chilly descent (without wind jacket), but met (probably) local cyclists coming up as I was going down.


Stopped again by a grocery in Andermatt by the turn-off for the next pass – Oberalppass/Cuolm d’Ursera/Col de Surpalix/Alpsu/Crispalt (2044m). The climb up to Oberalppass is nice and easy, but was anyway overtaken at the start by another cyclist that I soon let go ahead on his own. A bit colder in the evening. I had planned to climb up to Rossmettlen from below Andermatt to 2104m height, which should be a nice climb in the area, but was now a bit late (if I had catched the earlier train I might have had time for that also, but not this time). Nice views from the pass, but there are even better views from the road up to Lai da Curnera (which reaches almost the same height, 2040m) that I went up the last time I was over the Oberalppass in 2013.


Here is the view toward the Lai da Curnera road and the road down to Disentis/Mustér, where I stopped for the night in a bed and breakfast at a road bend as one reaches the upper village. I had stopped across the road on my first visit here in 2002 by a then old nice lady and she was apparently the older sister of the lady I was now staying with (in a separate little house). Quite a good place for the money! The man had died where I was staying in 2002 and the old lady was in bad health unfortunately.

I walked down to the town hoping the pizzeria was open, but it was closed this day, so had a pizza instead at the kebab bar. There was also a hostel/restaurant Nangijala (seem to have a Swedish connection also by the way) just a bit below where I stopped and that would likely be a good alternative for eating and maybe sleeping too (prices were similar).