Col du Glandon

Altitude1924 m

Massifs des Belledonne et des Arves

Département Savoie

The Col du Glandon - 1924 m - is the other pass, along with the Croix de Fer (2 kilometers away), that joins the Maurienne and Romanche Valleys. Only its northern slope is distinctive, as the south-western slope is almost identical to that of the Col de la Croix de Fer.
From the col, looking north, you can clearly make out the Col de la Madeleine and then just behind it the Mont Blanc!

Topo north side

glandon versant nord

Distance 20.9 km
Start St-Étienne-de-Cuines (Maurienne Valley)
D+ 1477 m
% average 7%
% max 11,5% over 230 m

The North slope - with its 20.9 km, 1477 m of D+ at 7% is a very difficult pass. Starting from St-Étienne-de-Cuines, in the Maurienne Valley, the climb is divided into 4 parts:

  1. After just 1.5 km, which goes from 2.5 to 4.5% to warm up, the gradient steepens and doesn't let up for the next 8.2 km, with gradients ranging from 6.5 to 8%. The climb is often through undergrowth, there are few viewpoints and you can climb at a steady pace to keep your energy up for the rest of the way... but this part of the climb will still sap some of your strength...
  2. The gradient eases to a welcome 2.5% as you approach Villard Martinan. The valley widens and you can enjoy the first views of the Massif de Belledonne. Enjoy the plateau - 1.5 km - passing through St-Colomban-des-Villards. Then, after crossing a bridge on the outskirts of the village, the gradient picks up again, climbing 5% for 675 m. There's still around 9 km to go.
  3. As you approach the Chal, the gradient becomes more insistent again, at 6.5% for 950 m. Then it's on up the Torrent du Glandon, with almost 209 m of D+ over 2.3 km. That's an average of 9%, and this part is hellish because the bends don't offer any flat spots, and it's exposed to the full sun! After crossing the Pont de l'Échet, the gradient "eases" from 8.5% to 7.5% over the next 1,700 m, passing through le Sapey d'en bas and le Sapey d'en haut, thighs burning... you can enjoy a little respite - 1 km at 6% - while taking in the view of the magnificent landscape and the Dantesque finale!
  4. From the Sous le Col d'en bas hut, you'll climb 6 dizzyingly steep switchbacks! Set against the stunning backdrop of the Aiguilles de l'Argentière, one of the toughest finishes in the Alps: 299 m of D+ in less than 3 kilometers (2.9 km) at... an average of 10%! Between bends 1 and 6, the gradient is between 10 and 11.5%! The last 425 meters at 9% will be a deliverance!

Topo south side

glandon versant sud

Distance 26.4 km
Start Allemond (Romanche Valley)
D+ 1367 m
% average 6.5%
% max 9,5% for 2,590 m

The Versant Sud is almost common to the Col de la Croix de Fer, is very long - 26.4 km - and irregular, mixing difficult gradients and short descents. It is marked by a few roadside waterfalls and the passage along the Lac de Grand-Maison.

It really starts in Allemond in the Romanche Valley at the foot of the Lac de Verney dam with 650 m at 6%. Then you'll slowly turn your legs along Lac de Verney, with 2.5 km between 0 and 2.5% max. After rounding the imposing Usine électrique de l'Eau d'Olle, a gentle descent guides you to the Pont Ratier at the entrance to the Vallée d'Olle, where the real ascent begins.

The 3.2 km climb from 6.5 to 7.5% up to Articol will allow you to warm up. On the other hand, the next 2,600 meters offer a more challenging menu, with a 9.5% gradient on a fairly straight route. The shady road will help you get through this difficult section. The flat area before the Rivier d'Allemont will do you good.

After a good descent of around 1.8 km, a fairly steep section appears at the entrance to the Défilé du Maupas: a 2.3 km straight section interrupted by only 2 hairpin bends with an 8.5/9% gradient that requires you to change gear immediately. This difficult section takes you to the foot of the Barrage de Grand-Maison. 2 hairpin bends at 6.5% over 2.5 km are needed to reach the top. A beautiful reward awaits you with a sumptuous panorama of the Lac de Grand-Maison.

The road overlooks the lake shore on a slope varying between 2.5 and 5% for 2.3 km, then comes another descent to a bridge marking the crossing of the Isère into Savoie. The road climbs again at gradients of around 7/8% for 2.3 km through alpine meadows. You'll leave the road leading to the Col de la Croix de Fer to take the short access - a good 230 m ramp at 7.5% - to reach the Col du Glandon at 1924 m.

Joris Lesueur
webmaster of
06 81 38 77 26
1, allée des Chênes
21910 Corcelles-lès-Cîteaux


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