Monday, July 18, 2005

Alps Trip Day 12 - St Gervais to Chatel

I was going to take a direct route toward Geneva, but after a café I realised that I would be disappointed being so close to Chamonix and its high mountains and not to have taken a peek. In spite of difficulties later it wasn't a decision that I regretted. The valley in which Chamonix sits is quite narrow and due to the Mt Blanc tunnel is dominated by a major highway, which was off-limits to bicycles. To get around this was to do quite a bit of climbing but that gave some stunning views of both sides of the valley.

I flirted with the idea of taking the funicular up to a high point but decided that I didn't have enough time. This was probably a good idea as I struggled to get to where I'd aimed and there were clouds gathering on the tops already in the morning. Later these clouds turned into thunder storms.

After Chamonix I scaled the moderate col des Montets then shortly after the Swiss border the col de la Forclaz. In between the 2 the growing storm dropped buckets from the sky, fortunately I managed to find shelter just as it started. After the col de la Forclaz there was a nice long drop down to Martigny, where the storm again passed, this time I found agreeable shelter too.

From there I aimed for the Col de Morgins, which I figured I would not hit until late but wouldn't be too much. I didn't look closely enough at the map; I had 800m from the base of the valley. And that was before a nice tailwind under cloudy but benign skies turned into heavy rain and a wind change. My stubbornness wouldn't permit a change. In any case the town, Monthey, where I took stock looked too depressingly industrial to spend my last night of a holiday. So I pressed on. It wasn't an enjoyable climb; however it didn't kill me so I must be stronger as a result. My resistance was lowered and I ended up staying in a rather shitty and expensive hotel, the first one I came to once over the col. I would really have liked to have camped one more night but it wasn't to be.

Distance - 124km
Time - 8:14
Max Altitude - 1527m
Tot. Ascent - 2480m

Col des Montets – 1461m
Col de Forclaz – 1527m
Col de Morgins – 1370m

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