Highlights: Col des Gentianes (2,900m), Mont Fort & glacier-via cable car only (3,300m), La Chaux (2,200m), Cabane de Mont Fort (2,500m)
Stats: This is another tour outside the SwitzerlandMobility routes. It combines some quite difficult uphill biking (700m elevation during the first 6km) and some cable-car transport, for an overall 20km actual bike ride. Most of the trail is terrain but not too bumpy.
We started from the village of Verbier (1,500m) and biked for 6km continuously uphill to Les Ruinettes (2,200m), following a gravel road surrounded by trees yet mostly under the sun.
The gravel made the climb even more difficult and slippery , so much so that even with the electric bike I struggled in several places. In fact many people skip this climb and load their bikes on the cable-car from Verbier and then come down via one of the many MTB trails. As a side note, Verbier is a paradise for hard-core MTBikers, with many km of trails of different difficulty.
Once reached Les Ruinettes, we had a nice 2km of mostly flat terrain to the cable-car station of La Chaux (2,200m).
This section coasts the side of the mountain and provides beautiful panoramic views of the valley far below. There were even sculptures along the way and, at La Chaux, we were greeted by a wonderful open-air concert of classical music (it was the last day of the Verbier Festival)!
From La Chaux we then took the bikes into a cable-car to Col des Gentianes (2,900m), which is the highest point allowed for biking or hiking tours. Here, you are above the vegetation line and everything around you is gray stone and white snow.
After locking our bikes at the arrival, we decided to hop on a second cable-car to the top of Mont Fort (3,300m).
Going up to Mont Fort in the summer is really breathtaking, with views of nearby mountain peaks (mostly without snow now) and of the retreating glaciers. The panorama is completely unrecognizable from the white winter wonderland that bustles with skiers during the cold months.
It is incredible and sad to think that this was a summer ski area only 20 years ago. Now, there is not enough snow for summer skiing, so the landscape has been transformed into a mountain biking/hiking territory (only up to 2,900m).
Since hiking down from Mont Fort is forbidden (the usual dangers of glaciers), we returned via cable-car to Col des Gentianes, from where we started our descent to Verbier (12km). The trail is gravel, so quite slippery when coming down. The first few km are absolutely stunning, immersed in a gray and deserted rocky landscape that was once dominion of glaciers.
After about 4km (and before reaching again La Chaux), we found the charming refuge (or cabane) of Mont Fort , where one can eat or sleep. We of course stopped for an amazing “rœsti” and a salad with hot goat cheese, both specialties of the Swiss Alps. The views from here are also impressive.
After leaving the Cabane, awestruck by the raw beauty of the glacier landscape, we started a wonderful downhill ride all the way to Verbier, where we finally put the bikes in their “cradles” for the night.
Link to Introduction: