Skip to main content

Aiguille de la Grande Sassiere 3751m

One of those pure adventure days *warning mega photo post*

Ali-venturing as it's been known by over the summer.  When Ali from trailAddiction gets grand idea's in his head it always leads to hike-a-bike. Read here on DIRT Mag about a previous mission, its the highest rideable peak in the alps!

A special team was organised:  A top ten finishing team from the Bivouac Enduro, Mael and Max, Ali, myself and Fred the mountain bike mechanic from Mavic. All keen, all stupid?

And then my alarm went off at 04:30.  Time to eat and drink as much as possible.  I hadn't been up this early since ski touring in refuges last winter.  In my tired state I did subconsciously know how to load the bikes onto the trailer, it's easy after doing it everyday all summer.  We drove up towards Val d'Isere, then turned left up a singletrack road.  It was around 6am, and it was still pitch black.
Slowly the sun began to rise:
Tignes glacier ski area Grand Motte
Grand Casse on the right
And the hike-a-bike continued and turned into carry-a-bike, but with the sun coming up over more of the mountains it was still stunning.
Me, photo taken by Mael
Ali and Max carry, photo by Mael
There were a few sections of ridge that you could ride.  Though not marked on the map there is a path snaking it's way up the ridge line and amongst the scree is a ribbon of lovely grippy gravely dirt. It felt like Chile up there!
See that peak to the right, thats the top!
More like South America than Savoie
Skirting the glacier. photo by Mael

So after about 3 1/2 hours of suffering we got 3500m.  The last 200m were in sight, it looked steep and loose.  A group decision was reached to leave the bikes and quickly walk up.  Well as quick as you can go at 3 and half thousand metres.  I'd only ever skied at this height, like Fred who is a ski instructor in winter.   The others hadn't been that high, let alone with bikes. Journeying to the max!  The top was breathtaking.  It wasn't too cold either.  But the views, wow, 360! I didn't now where to look, Mont Blanc, Grand Casse, the southern Alps disappearing off, Aosta Valley.  The real highlight for me was the superb mer des nauges (sea of clouds) over the flat lands of Italy on the edge of the alpine range.
Our ridge line
Summit views of Mont Blanc
Sea of clouds over Italy
Group summit shot

After about 4 hours & half we got back down to our bikes at 3500m. We had to descend to around 2200m to join the infamous HEIDI trail and with that still came 1000m of climbing. So let the fun begin (note there were some sections of hike a bike between the gravel ribbon of single track and tech rock steps)

We joined into the classic mid mountain terrain of HEIDI at around midday.  We were about 7 hours in.  And we had a whole days worth of trail still left.  We kept a steady pace as all morning we'd been snacking and sipping at our camelbaks.  We were buzzing from the big descent off the Aiguille de la Grande Sassiere 3751m and wanted more singletrack. Lucky Ali had plenty in store for us.  Kilometre after kilometre of superb flow, some above the tree line, some just within the loam of the larch and pine tree's.
There was some climbing, but it was split into 300m here, 200 there.  So despite the sun beating down on us we moved and smiled onwards.  We ate more snacks.  Galette from Breton Mael was the speciality of the day, that and Ali's huge supply of High 5 gels and energy tabs.

As well as the singletrack descents which dreams are made of, we passed beautiful hamlets and farms perched high up in the mountains.  We filled up our camelbaks at a nice house as we were greeted by cheery old locals, it was much needed.

As we traversed towards St Foy the rocks and roots began to show through.  Part of this was liaison for the Trans Savoie this year and it was great fun going up and down.  This was all in aid of one last big finale.  The end section of HEIDI into Viclaire which sits at around 890m.  A descent that took us around 30 minutes of flow-tastic delight and finishing with the rock gardens from hell! A really special trail to end on!

Facts of the day:
10 hours riding
2000m vertical height gain
3400m vertical descent
3 Chorizo sticks eaten
3 Galette's eaten
Plus many cereal bars, fruit'n'nut mixes, haribo's and energy bars
Oh, and 2 high5 zero tabs added to 30cl water makes you hyper hey Mael!?


  1. Looks amazing, even better now I see the photos via a proper screen. Sat here at work I actually feel slightly unwell, wish I was there. Hopefully I will get a chance to do something like this too one day.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Verbier is a very mixed place.  There is great piste skiing & free-riding and access to world class ski touring, but more often its known for it's decadence.  Huge picture perfect chalets with wealthy families and their beaufituful/handsome ski instructors fill the resort. And if not that, the seedier side of ski resorts, the bankers with their paid for woman. . .

Talking of horrible, those exposed switchbacks half way down from the Chateau were bloody horrible, lucky the rest of the trail was very good fun.

Well of course, its Swiss Valais, the footpaths are "tip top" and the lift companies are bike friendly.  There were still a lot of pistes open for skiing, but after 11am you can use the lower lift from Le Chable to Verbier to access the snow free trails that lead back into the valley floor.  Time to explore:

Many thanks to Lorne for some of the cracking photos :

Tour du Mont Blanc: Voie Toller- Italy

10:30- 6 hours riding- Val Ferret, Val d'Aoste, ItalyThis was our first off-road descent of the day and we both knew it was steep to begin with so took it easy.  Jo with his slicks, and me with Euro brakes (front and back on the wrong side of handlebars) we rode a reasonable amount, hopped some drainage channels, and shouldered our bikes down the rocky steps.
We came out of the mist around the Elena Refuge and we joined the firetrack down.  Big wheels, tyres and suspension allowed me to open it up a bit, however Jo took it cautiously with his rigid forks.  In no time at all we were zooming down the road towards Courmayeur and FOOD!
11:30- Supermarcato, Courmayeur
With our bikes lent up outside we bought cans of drink, crisps, chocolate, cheese, sliced meat, bread rolls, focaccia and a giant slice of watermellon. €15 each and much to the dismay of the supermarket workers we stuffed our faces: 12:05- Ascent of Val Veny, Italy As we left Courmayeur we were now committed to getting to Cha…