Climbing Col du Glandon by bike

The Col du Glandon is one of the most famous climbs in the Alps. Any somewhat fanatic cyclist will have passed the Col du Glandon in his life at least a few times. Often this will be from Bourg d'Oisans and not from the heavier north side via La Chambre. This is the most popular side of the Glandon and is actually the climb of the Croix de la Fer starting from Barrage du Verney (the dam). The Tour de France regularly passes the Glandon and often the famous climbers reach the top first. Due to the limited space and the unfavorable location, there was never a stage finish on the Glandon.

Col du Glandon

starting from La Chambre (from the north)
The Glandon from La Chambre is a beautiful climb! The view of surrounding mountains is fantastic, the scenery is quite varied and the road is steep with some real walls! The climb is 13.2 mi (21,3km) long, ascending 4,829 ft (1,472 m) at an average gradient of 6.9%. Halfway there is an easy stretch only to let you take a breath for the heavy last piece of more than 11% increase. On this side of the climb, you also pass cycling milestones who are placed every kilometre. They indicate the distance to the summit, the current height, and the average slope in the following kilometre.

Glandon milestone
Milestones on the Glandon

The climb begins in the forest which can provide some shade (or just keeps the heat). Once the trees take place for alpine meadows, the climb is at its most beautiful. A small river is winding trough the landscape. Climbing is already heavy, but is getting even heavier. These are the last two miles which are the most difficult. You already have 11 climbing miles in the legs and then steepest stretches have yet to come. In only a few pedalstrokes you make a lot of altitude. When you finally get to the top, you can go to the Croix de Fer, which feels easy after these 13 miles of suffering.

Glandon height profile
Glandon via La Chambre height profile

Starting from Le Bourg-d'Oisans (from the south)
From Le Bourg-d'Oisans we ride through the Romanche valley before the climb starts at the Barrage du Verney after 5mi (8 km). From here we have to climb 15 mi (24k m) to the summit, which is reached shortly after the junction with the route to Col de la Croix de Fer. Over this distance, we gain 3,780 ft (1,152 m) of altitude with an average gradient of 4.8%, with a maximum of 11%.

Glandon height profile
Glandon via Bourg d'Oisans height profile

La Marmotte
The Glandon is also part of one of the best known, if not the best-known, one-day race for cycling tourists: The Marmotte, or La Marmotte in French. Every year on July 14, many thousands of cycling fans leave for 108mi (174 km) long climbing race across the Croix de Fer, Télégraphe, Galibier and Alpe d'Huez.

Although the Glandon is theoretically not in the route (it's the Croix de Fer), you still have to climb it from Le Bourg d'Oisans to reach the top of the Croix de Fer. The total height difference of the stage is 5000 meters.

Climbing the Glandon