Is this a safari or a cycling trip?

Luz Ardiden isn't one of the best known of the tour climbs, but if you ask me it's a hidden gem - certainly it's not an easy climb but it's up there on beauty.

Having said that, I chose it for this morning's ride mainly because KKB rode up there yesterday and said he saw marmottes. I've been a bit obsessed with these little creatures since our last trip and that was enough to make it my first choice of rides for this leg of the trip.

Like many other climbs, Luz Ardiden runs from Luz St-Sauveur, our home for this week, up to a ski station. It winds up through the villages of Sazos and Grust, where you can catch glimpses of the valley below. The forest that follows provides a calm atmosphere, then about 5 ks from the top of the 14k climb, you are welcomed with a beautiful, but distant, view of the summit.

With the break in the tree line I was in Marmotte country and I kept my eyes peeled. I could hear them chattering away in the woods so I was keen for a sighting as the ks ticked away.

As I rounded a bend there he was... a big marmotte sunning himself on the concrete barrier beside the road. I'm sorry to say, there's no evidence! I unclipped and tried to sneak up to capture a snapshot - but I looked away for a moment and he was gone.

Must be why they call them mythical creatures...

Oh well, on with the climb.

No more sightings but they continued to taunt me with a lot of chatter from the bushes.

I made it to the top of what the sign says is a 13km climb at an average of 7.7%.

And took the time to take in the views. You can see down the last few ks of switchbacks, but the towns below are hidden in the forest.

While I didn't capture a photo of a marmotte, I got these little guys instead. Wildlife is fairly common on the roads over here - no fences, just a sign warning that you're entering agricultural land and to be respectful to the animals.


  1. Damn, that's pretty. I'll have to include Luz in next year's trip, which is shaping up to a 3 month-er. Will be nice not to ride Nundah Scarborough for 13 weeks. :)

  2. Absolutely Bruce, the variety over here is immense. Every time we leave a place, we can count up several rides that we're saving for "next time".