Col de la Madeleine

Collected here is a small series of photos of the Col de la Madeleine. The photos were made in 2005 and 2006. Col de la Madeleine is one of the more challenging ‘cols’ (or mountain passes) with rather narrow roads on the east side. The hairpins are not too difficult, but there are quite a few places where there is hardly room for a motorbike AND a car to pass each other.

The east side of the pass (we usually go UP on that side) is the steepest and narrowest, climbing up from the valley that connects Albertville with the Tarentaise region. We pass a few (very) small villages after emerging from the forest. The second half of the road up is a bit wider, and we get more views above the tree level. On a clear day one can see the Mont Banc from here, towering over all of the Alps.

Visible on this (and subsequent) photo is the somewhat ‘cumbersome’ road surface on this pass. All of these photos were made in June and July after the road had been repaired from the winter season. Already a lot of ‘cracks’ in it again, and tar snakes abound ! Not a fast pass.

On of the tiny villages perched against the steep slopes. Down on the photo (where the red truck is) one can see the road leading up. Very narrow, especially when encountering such a dump truck !!





Another view on the rough road surface, here recently repaired. This is the wider part of the pass already, where trees are getting scarce.






If you squint at your monitor you can just make out the Mont Blanc in the middle of the picture. I wish I had more space to show larger photos, but you’ll have to go to my ‘Smugmug’ website for that





We are now in view of the pass and the road is a lot wider here. Just a few more large hairpins and we’re there. (The actual pass is hidden behind my helmet on the far right actually).





We made it once again ! And yes, that’s my bike there, proudly parked near the sign. The pink dot is Nina, guarding it ! This pass is 2000 meters high (that’s some 6561 feet).





A view of the parking area. See that edge of the asphalt, leading to the gravel? That’s where Nina tripped and hurt her ankle. She should’ve stayed on the bike I guess!






More people watching the Mont Blanc peeking through the clouds. There’s a chance of 1 : 29 to see the mountain. Usually with clear weather there are large white clouds around the summit because of all the ice and snow on it.





A view back on the road we used  to climb up to the pass.You can see the large cloud and ‘suspect’ sky in the far distance. As it happened we hit a really bad summer thunder storm just when we started our descent on the other side.





The (high) alpine mountains look so beautiful and peaceful. But what many people forget is that this really is ‘raw nature’, away from most civilization and DANGEROUS! Especially when on foot, bicycle or motorbike !!





Yes, the pictures are usually shot with nice weather and do not give away the hidden dangers of this often thunderous and alien world of rock, snow and grass !










This is the road on the other side… already much further down. Just across the summit one has to ride through the meadows on a reasonably wide road, to St. Fran├žois-Longchamp, a little ski resort. From there we get ito the forest and friendlier meadows. The road still is bad in some places though !

All the way down into the next valley the world looks so much friendlier again. As you will see in other photo series, the French Alps are still pretty rough, and remote compared to the Swiss and Austrian Alps, where there seem to be more villages and more human intervention.







This is the little town of La Cambe, a famous place for the Tour de France, that often takes the racers OVER the Col de la Madeleine ! I don’t know how they do it.
It is exciting and sometimes even difficult on a motorbike, let alone on a bicycle !!!!






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