Ascent to L'Alpe D'Huez on 2015-07-25

Climber: Marcus Lostracco

Others in Party:Mom and Dad
Date:Saturday, July 25, 2015
Ascent Type:No Summit Goal
Place:L'Alpe D'Huez
    Elevation:5600 ft / 1706 m

Ascent Trip Report

TOUR DE FRANCE 2015 - √Čtape 20: L'Alpe D'Huez

Flew to Lyon, Easyjet, Friday 24-07 from LGW. Arriving in Lyon sun was shining as exited plane onto tarmac and it felt amazing after having been in the cloudy UK for 2 weeks. I went straight to the TGV station (which is connected to the airport) to purchase a ticket to Grenoble, where I would meet Mom & Dad. On boarding the train at 11:45am, it turned out to be completely full and I was left at the front of the plane with another guy, who upon speaking with him, I learned that he was also going to the Tour. His name was Fokke (I laughed out loud when he introduced himself), and he was a great guy. Full of jokes and such - from Amsterdam and was meeting his friends in Grenoble where they would then go off to le Col de La Croix de Fer. They had left Amsterdam at 2am to drive there! On arrival in Grenoble, Fokke and I went and got a bite to eat and a beer at one of the happening restaurants in the town as we waited for our respective rides. Really nice city, Grenoble. It was nice and sunny, and soon enough, Fokke's crew had arrived. They all got beers and it was a good crowd to be with - great to feel the excitement of others going to the Tour. It soon started raining so we took everything inside, and soon, the staff (just 2 people) started joining in with us, where it became a full-on party. The weather got even worse (hail!). Finally Mom and Dad showed up and I don't think they expected to walk in on this type of atmosphere. They joined in for a drink and we soon left to go to the hotel for the night. We arrived at our hotel (Best Western) in the outskirts of town. I had to take a nap... while Mom and Dad got groceries. We would then get organized and have a dinner at the hotel restaurant... I thought to myself: "Really? We're going to eat at a Best Western hotel restaurant? While in France??" It turned out that the restaurant (Le Trolle) was a local favourite and was quite exquisite. This would end up being an amazing meal - I opted for Le Cerveaux Grenobloise - a fantastic choice. We paired our meal with some amazing local wine (typical French fashion) and then called it a night, after setting our alarm for 5am.

We were up and at it early, Mom and Dad surprised me with a really nice birthday card. This would turn out to be an amazing day for me. We were on the road by 6AM, and arrived at Bourgh D'Oisans at 7:15am and parked just outside the town with the idea of an easier exit at the end of the day in mind. We walked through the town as it came to life in the early hours of Saturday morning, street merchants began to set up their stalls for the day. We had a coffee at the only coffee shop that was open (along with many others), and then purchased a few things from the marketplace for our day on the mountain (fruit, meat & cheese, wine!). We then began the hike up the climb of L'Alpe D'Huez, around 8am with a huge hoard of people. I could sense that it was time to get up there if we wanted to get a good position somewhere along the 21 bends of the iconic road. There were hundreds and hundreds of people making the approach, about 50/50 walkers and cyclists, to watch this epic and famous stage of Le Tour de France. The climb was STEEP right from the beginning - we would take breaks at each bend. It seemed like each switchback on the road had its own personality or theme, making it fun to look forward to the next one as we made our way up the mountain. Any time Mom and Dad would start to get settled with our current position, I would reassure them that we needed to get higher for better views. We continued to climb along with many others, of all ages, all looks, and all smiles. Amazing mountain views surrounded us the whole way up as the sun got hotter and our backs got sweatier. As we walked up beyond bend #9 (they go in descending order), we took some satisfaction in the view from this spot, so we made the quick call to make it our home base for the day. This was after 2 hours of ascending, around 10:00am, and most of the spots along the road were already full. Fortunately, Mom and Dad found two young Swiss guys that were very nice to make a bit of room for us. We busted out our wine and finished it pretty quickly. While we hung out, and got to know our neighbors, I threw together a Canadian Flag pirate costume that I thought would catch the TV camera's attention. It also caught the attention of many others around us almost immediately, and I was being asked to be in pictures and whatnot. I was having fun. I decided around 11:30AM it was time to explore the upstream bends, so I followed a trail off the side of the road, and it took me right up to the town of Huez, spitting me out in the midst of the infamous "Dutch Corner" - and it was already a full-on party. I continued running up the road, passing some cyclists and getting a lot of encouragement and cheers from the bystanders. "CANADA!" they would yell. Or "MOUSTACHE!" they should shout. Either way it was really fun. I made it up to about 2.5km to go when the gendarme told me to get off the road. I abided by his words and decided it was time to get back to Mom and Dad. I soaked in the view from the top for a while - it was spectacular. I bombed down the open country section between bends 3 and 5. Bend 5 was really cool - it was going to be a really rowdy spot (I could tell). It was a great mix of different people, all enjoying the day and getting ready for the Tour to come by.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4000 ft / 1218 m
    Extra Gain:400 ft / 121 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12 mi / 19.3 km
    Route:from Bourgh D'Oisans
    Trailhead:2400 ft / 731 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Hot and sunny with an occasional breeze
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:40 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Marcus Lostracco
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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