Minimum altitude: 722 meters
Distance: 74.7 km
Slope Aspect: South
Vertical Climbed: 1,556 meters (5,105 feet)
Vertical Descended: 1,527 meters
The Colle del Piccolo San Bernardo is the only mountain pass that links the Italian Aoste valley from the Tarentaise. It has been in use since Celtic times and the Romans built a way station for travellers on the pass the foundations of which are still visible. It generally opens in early June and closes with the first major snows of the winter. I'd ridden the col 7 years ago with Mike and thought it was time for a return trip. The pass was open as far as the restaurants at the summit where a 500 meter stretched had been left unploughed.
We started from Bellentre at 722 meters altitude and rode up the cycle route to Seez, we then took the back road via Montvalezan (water fountain) which is shorter but steeper than the main road but more interesting scenery. The road was fairly busy all the same at lunchtime. It meets the le Rosiere road before the ski area. The great thing about this climb is once you are back on the main road things are not too steep and the final 8km after la Rosiere are on a 4-5% rolling grade with a nice road surface.
There were the usual spectacular ice walls due to snow drifting over the road in the summer. As this bit is officially closed we didn't see too many cars or the dreaded motorbikes. The ride down to Seez was bumpy but the main road is currently being resurfaced and should be good when done, we didn't fancy our tires on hot tarmac.
12C at the col. No wind, which is rare and hot (27C) in the valley. Main road is being resurfaced but avoidable by Montvalezan which is the prettier climb.