Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Less famous than the Col de Joux Plane, less travelled than the Route d’Avoriaz, the ‘other side’ of the Joux Verte is nevertheless a true hidden gem

 

There are, of course, two sides to the Col de la Joux Verte – the renowned southern route climbs from Morzine to Avoriaz, with the col itself some 1.3km below the ski station. It is this route – also known as the Montee d’Avoriaz or the Route d’Avoriaz – that has been tackled frequently by the Tour de France, most recently in 2010 when eventual stage winner Andy Schleck duelled with a yellow jersey clad Alberto Contador on its slopes. Neither could match the time of French legend Bernard Hinault, who in 1979 covered the 14km in an astonishing 33 minutes. August’s annual race allows all-comers to match themselves against Hinault; for more information on the Grimpee d’Avoriaz please see here.

 

The lesser known northern ascent is, however, considerably more beautiful, more varied – and certainly less busy – than its more famous sister. Starting at the base of the village of Montriond, the road climbs from 886m through wooded slopes and alpine pastures for 14.7km before finally reaching the col at 1760m. The average gradient of 6.5% belies the difficulty of this climb, with middle sections rarely dipping below an energy sapping 9%.

The Col de la Joux Verte from Montriond

The Col de la Joux Verte from Montriond

The climb officially starts at the Morzine-Montriond roundabout, with a gentle kilometre at 4% to warm the legs. As you turn the corner, however, the road ramps up to 10% for  a little over 300m, before you turn off to the left, following the signs for Lac Montriond and Ardent. A further two kilometres at a stately 6% brings you to the one of the jewels of this particular climb – the stunning Lac Montriond. This beautiful Alpine lake – the third largest lake in the region after Annecy and Lac Leman – was formed following a massive rock fall from Nantaux; a haven for tourists in the summer it’s also the perfect place to enjoy a quick coffee before the real climbing begins…

From the lake, a two kilometre ascent at 7% brings you through a short avalanche tunnel to the base of the ski slope at Ardent and the road to Les Lindarets – three kilometres at 9%, with a series of tight, winding hairpins leading you through woodland and into open pasture. But it’s worth it: the views down to the lake below and across to the Roc d’Enfer in the distance are among the best the region has to offer.

Nine kilometres bring you into the beautiful village of Les Lindarets. Situated on the piste in the winter, in the summer Lindarets is transformed, with the street given over to multitudes of marauding goats – and a similar number of people feeding them. A welcome distraction from the biting gradient at this point, but perhaps one of the more unusual hazards you’re likely to come across on a bike…

Immediately after the village, the mountain opens up into the Lindarets bowl, with a number of lifts taking skiers in the winter and mountain bikers in the summer off to Chatel, Avoriaz and the Swiss sectors of the Portes du Soleil. The Joux Verte continues to climb – gradually at first, with two welcome kilometres at 5%, before the final two kilometres ramp up to 7 and 8% respectively. Once again it’s worth taking your time to drink in the views of the lake below; at the summit, the road to the left leads you up to Avoriaz – 1.3km at a gentle 4%- whilst to the right the road drops down a fast, swooping 14km descent into Morzine itself. Alternatively, the restaurant at the top of the col offers the perfect place to contemplate the spectacular surrounds – and to enjoy a well earned rest…

The Col de la Joux Verte features as the first climb in the annual Morzine Haut-Chablais cyclo-sportive – for more information please click here.

Advertisements