One of the consequences of the record snow season of 2017/18 is that many of the mountain passes around the Alps have been much more difficult to clear than in ‘normal’ years.

Col de l’Iseran

Even now, towards the end of June, some passes, such as the Col de l’Iseran in Val d’Isère have still not fully cleared.

Access will actually open tomorrow on 23 June with a system of alternating traffic through the higher risk areas – the risk of avalanche is high after a small chute on the Bonneval side earlier today.

This was the situation on the Bonneval side earlier this week:

clearing snow from the col diseran in val d'isere

Taken 18 June 2018

This was the situation on the road to the Manchet valley in Val d’Isère in mid-May:


Col de Petit St Bernard

On the Col de Petit St Bernard at La Rosière, they have also found it difficult clearing the snow.  While the col was opened on 04 June, this was later than usual due to the excessive snowfall with 11.30m accumulated snowfall during the season.

This video shows the task that the snow clearing teams had to deal with just one month ago. It is extremely important for the resort that the col is opened as early as possible, as it’s very popular with cyclists – even more so this year as the Tour de France has a stage finishing in La Rosière.

https://www.facebook.com/larosiere1850/videos/2152204031486769

So challenging was the amount of snow that snow clearers were obliged to wear transceivers in case of an avalanche during their work. On one full day of work, just 500 metres of road was cleared.

This photo was taken on 13 June – after the road had been opened, but showing just how much snow is still around:

Col de Galibier

There have been similar challenges in Valloire where the Galibier at 2650m also only opened on 08 June – 10 days later than usual – after the deepest snowfall in the resort for 30 years.

The cover was so deep the snow clearing team had to use photos and GPS to work out where the road lay below them.

snow clearing galibier may 2018

So if you’re cycling any of these cols this summer, just spare a thought for the teams who worked so hard to clear them for you!