Tour Mont Blanc
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February 12th 2013

 

 

 

 

 

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First section – the Grand Saint Bernard Pass

Dam just in front of the tunnel intersectionWith best service, our host followed our request for an early breakfast at 7:30am in the morning, since our tour-plan for the tour today was a complete circle ride around the Mont Blanc with approximately 395km ahead of us and this not only on wide main routes. Jean-Jaques the landlord and host had prepared a typical French breakfast as we already at 7:00am started to pack our bikes for the day.

Tank bag - to stow the camera, checking the Scottoiler - our automated chain lubrication system and refill it, tie the camera tripod. We were booked again in in the Valais county, at Corinnes’ hotel Rarnerhof in Raron. Raron is located at an important traffic intersection point and you can travel from or to here very comfortable on four directions. For this tour we had chosen the Lötschberg tunnel train transfer. But more about that in another story.

While we took our breakfast, we tried to find out more about the rock fall at the St. Gotthard pass and the associated highway and country road blockage at the Gotthard pass, since we still expected a significant detour traffic through the Grand St. Bernard Pass tunnel. A landslide had completely paralyzed the traffic over the Gotthard route and the entire north-south traffic in Europe was diverted on the San Bernardino and the Grand Bernard route.

With the expectation of many traffic jams on the Saint Bernard route we left hotel Rarnerhof around 8:00am and entered the swing of endless curves that took us through the vineyards of the Valais down to Martigny. This day showed steel-blue sky and the temperature here in Raron was at moderate12°C. It therefore could not start off better. The hotel Raron was once an old customs border station house with two stars and was completely renovated 3 years ago.. Food is great, service is excellent and the price does fit. The short distances in all directions like up into the Upper Valais (Goms), across the Simplon Pass to Italy and across to Mont Blanc or over to the Valle d'Aosta and through the Lötschberg tunnel train transfer over into the Bernese Oberland make Raron an excellent center for touring the Central Alps.

North side of Grand Saint BernardArriving this morning down in Martigny it seems as if we are the only ones alive this early morning on that day of Pentecost. We drive through an almost empty Martigny, where we exit at the last roundabout to turn on the pass route up to the Grand Saint Bernard Pass. Only the deep grumble sound of our exhaust pipes re-echoes from the empty streets of the city. Deep blue sky, no clouds, moderate temperature, an euphoric mood came up.

In the lower part, from Martigny up to the tunnel over to Italy, the pass road is very broad and excellent built since it has to carry the main traffic between Geneva and Turino. With long curves, supported on steeper sections with fast lanes or wide tracks, the road swings up the valley to the storage lake with the intersection between the tunnel and the pass road.

But amazingly the traffic up here is moderate, despite the fact that the Gotthard road is fully blocked. Just before entering the first avalanche shelter, my thermometer shows 3°C, since the early morning sun was unfortunately not yet able to illuminate the valley completely and since we drive on the east side, in the shadows up the hill, we were this morning not on the sunny side of life. So we just pulled out at a gas station and put on an extra protection against the cold with our two-piece rain suit. How good that decision was, will proven on the pass. Just by the way, we have changed just for additional windscreen reasons many years ago our one-piece rain suit for a rain pants and rain jacket from the manufacturer Held. This gives the onion peel an additional skin and allows, well protected, touring around minus 6° Celsius.

 

 

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