The Col du Galibier is one of the best known mountain passes in the Alps. First appearing in the Tour de France in 1911, it has been climbed over 60 times by the elite riders of that race. It is also a popular road for randonneurs to climb, and it offers beautiful views of the valley of Valloire and Mont Blanc.
You can approach this iconic mountain pass on two different routes: from the north via the Col du Telegraphe and Col de Lautaret or from the south via the Col des Aravis and the Valloire valley. Both ways of approaching it are challenging and require you to have your wits about you. This is not an easy ride, and you should make sure that you have enough water and food to get you through the 8.5kms of climbing at an average gradient of 6.9%.
As you climb up towards the summit, you will be surrounded by lush alpine pastures. The scenery will gradually change as you ascend to higher elevations and you will begin to feel the effects of cycling at altitude. Once you reach the summit, you will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the legendary mountains of the Massif des Ecrins. There is a cafe and restaurant at the top of the col, and you can enjoy some food while admiring the amazing view of the surrounding landscape.
It is quite a busy climb to the top of the col during the summer, and you are likely to share the road with a lot of other bikers and cars. However, if you are lucky enough to be up there early in the morning before the pass opens then you can often have the place to yourself for an incredible experience.
When you get to the col, it is a good idea to take a break and relax. The weather is usually great here, and it is a fantastic spot to soak in the views of the peaks around you. You should also take some time to explore the little chapel at the summit. This is a very interesting structure, and it makes for an excellent photo opportunity.
Once you are done with your rest, you can start the descent down to Valloire and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding peaks as you descend. The route can be very challenging and you should take your time as you go down to avoid any accidents.
The Galibier is up in a remote region of the Graian Alps and it is not an easy ride to do, but it is well worth the effort. The scenery is stunning and the experience of climbing a famous mountain pass is something that you will never forget. Whether you are a professional cyclist or just a casual rider, the col du galibier is definitely worth a visit! Just be careful, as it is not for beginners.