Thursday 19 April 2018

Riding on the snow up to Chamois

There is a mountain village where cars cannot get tehere, both in winter and in summer, and think, it can only be reached either by cableway, on foot or by bike. This village is called Chamois and it is located in Val d'Aosta.

Sounds good! I don't want to miss the opportunity to riding there, especially in winter, to experience of riding on the snow with my new fat-bike.

In winter compared to the summer there is an additional attraction, indeed, the off road track that connects La Magdeleine to Chamois as well as being banned from cars is completely covered by a blanket of beaten snow.

The track starts from a fork a few kilometers above La Magdeleine, in winter it is very popular with either snowshoes or just walking. It is an enjoyable, romantic and quiet path. Antey Saint Andrè is the town at the bottom of the valley (Valtournenche, a side valley of Aosta Valley) where you can comfortably reach the regional road as well as the Buisson - Chamois cableway starts, today it will be my starting point. But let's start from the beginning.

My tour starts from the Antey RV park, the Matterhorn is on the background, I can feel its presence despite the haze of the morning sky clouds. The RV park in winter is practically deserted not being Antey a ski resort although in my opinion for all the activities Valtournenche remains a central and nerve center.

A stop for breakfast is a must, lunch for now is not planned and the climb is long. I stop in this place that is located just near the ancient village (Bourg village) of Antey Saint André called "La Botecca De La Cumena", this village (Antey is like many others mountain towns is composed of many villages) is home of the municipal building located in the immediate vicinity.

After a not particularly rich breakfast, I would say a typical Italian breakfast, tea and croissant, I resume my slow and long climb toward La Magdeleine.

It is a typical mountain road on the eastern side of Valtournenche, from here it is possible to admire a splendid panorama, the west side of the valley where is the municipality of Torgnon which is already illuminated by the sun while the part I am traveling is still in the shadow.

I try a little detour before arriving at La Mgdeleine towards the hamlet of Lod, to give a look at the homonymous lake, the welcome of a dog ready to jump out of the fence makes me desist then I resume my climb up to the of La Magdeleine.

It comes the time to get off the bike and enjoy the little town life and take a look around. I stop in a bar where I meet a nice gentleman who, noticed me on a bicycle, describes the possible routes to ride in the winter. Who knows that they can not be the subject of the next stories... stay tuned!

I slowly walk the main town road (the traffic is practically non-existent) to give a 'look around, I hit this stone carved on the bell tower of the church.

So I'm going to take a picture of the church, even if it's too far for me to do it.

Another look at this mural on the town hall and the time has come to resume my march towards Chamois and the snowy track, the Fat Bike asks me for it.

Leaving the village at the first bend you must go straight to the "Road to the Valery Alpe", Chamois is also indicated, I did not notice immediately and I had to go back, not bad during the inversion to get back on the right track I could still enjoy the view.

You take a paved road that in fact seems to be used, mainly in summer, as a parking lot for cars, as you can see from the blue lines on the right side ... something tells me that it is paying parking.

It is a secondary asphalt road, I do not meet almost any and continues to offer beautiful views, but this time I am in the sunny part.

I start to see the parked cars, it's a good sign that means  I'm approaching the junction for Chamois from where the snowy track begins.

Here I am finally at the crossroads, on one side the asphalt and on the other the snowy road, I can not explain in these moments are caught by a strange emotion, like a child imagine to have arrived on the clouds immaculate.

A photo at the sign indicating the way to Chamois, made strictly of wood, and go! I start pedaling on the white ground.

I meet many snowshoe's walkers, it is pleasant, every meeting it is an excuse to socialize and tell their own impressions of the beautiful day and the beautiful landscape.

Arrived at the junction with Strada Severau I feel like trying to climb towards the Bosco Severau,Some people here at the junction tell me that this road is arriving at the plateau of Lake Pilaz and I can enjoy a fantastic view there. I do not miss the opportunity, during the continuous climb I stop to take more pictures and even make me a video-selfie (see video below).

I get close to the first lake (which is not seen because covered by snow) and is actually a balcony on the lower Valtournenche ... impressive!

Obviously the classic ritual photo, me and my bike behind this wonderful landscape.

It 's time to return in the direction toward Chamois, friends waiting for me with the cable car and lunch at Chez Pierina, the best in the area, I do not want to miss the opportunity to taste the legendary Aosta Valley pancakes (called crespelle).
After lunch (you could call snack since it is more than 15:30) I can enjoy a walk through the streets of Chamois waiting for the closure of the ski resort to bring together the whole group, including skiers.

While the cable car brings down the skiers I enjoy the last breathtaking views.

It's time to go down to the valley, the sun is hiding itself behind the mountains, the day is over, and it will always remain the indelible memory of a ride on the snow without equal on the "Pearl of the Alps" (Chamois) that can only be reached by cable car ... almost!

The Video