Today we did this years first ascent of the Joux Plane. The Col de Joux Plane was a grand finale to the 2016 Tour de France. Not only is the Joux Plane a true giant amongst the classic Alpine climbs, in my opinion, it is the most beautiful of all. It is a "Route d'Ete" - Summer Route, as the north facing descent to Morzine - the Col du Ranfolly - is in fact a ski slope in the winter, and is often, no clear of snow and not open to traffic until June! Its' beauty is in its terrain - it follows a natural slope, without the uniformity required to enable large coaches access to winter ski resorts, a la Alpe d'Huez and many others.
It has incredible views extending across the Limestone Mont Buet at the head of the Giffre valley and over to the majestic granite Mont Blanc and the Chamonix valley.
Starting in Samoens village the Joux Plane passes Route des Mouilles after just 250 meters, the first km is steep ramping upto 15%, before evening out at between 7% and 8%. There is another steep ramp between km 8 and 9 before the 4km grind to the summit. Unless you are after a time, take a minute at the two fabulous viewpoints at around the 10km and 11km points. On most days you can look down on Samoens then across the valley to dog tooth Pointe de Sales, and on to the Mont Blanc massif.
Click on the link below to see the route on Strava
The summit is welcoming with a beautiful alpine lake and a great cafe restaurant which serves Savoyard omelettes and other local fare.
Cross the plateau of the Joux Plane where there is an alpine lake and tops of the Les Gets/Morzine ski lifts, the plateau is about 2km and includes a short climb. Once on the descent, take care! Although the descent of the Col du Ranfolly is where Sean Kelly claims that he reached his highest speed on a bicycle, it is also fraught with danger. The gradient is uneven, with tricky hairpins and often even the odd remnant from the previous ski season, to contend with - please take care on the descent.
Morzine or Les Gets are both worthwhile destinations for lunch or a coffee break, alternatively stop in Taninges for a more authentic Savoyard ambience.
On the return there is a 5km climb from Morzine to Les Gets then descend down to Taninges from where you take the main road back to Samoens via Verchaix. An alternative return is via the Col de Rond and then, from Taninges, the road through Morillon on the south side of the Giffre river, this is a more pictoreque return.