I really didn’t think that Col de Rousset would feature in this week’s itinerary – it’s definitely not been warm here so far this week, and given that Col de Rousset is one of the two ski resorts in south Vercors, an ascent to the 1254m col hadn’t even entered my thoughts before this afternoon.
However, the col is the only southern access to the plateau, and combined with the fact that many locals use the road (including school buses) to access the resorts, that means that the road is regularly cleared and salted. Add in today’s drying breeze and sunshine on the south-facing mountain, and it seemed very likely that an ascent to the col could be made safely.
Indeed, the road was almost entirely dry, and apart from two or three largish rocks which I kicked off the road (doing my bit to save the oil sumps on cars!), it was a glorious ascent and descent, with the reward of a different variety of breathtaking views from the col. (It doesn’t matter what time of year, it’s always breathtaking in some way.)
Some notes on safety and comfort: I’d not normally recommend a winter ascent by bike unless you are pretty sure of the road conditions, and stay prepared to turn back. Watch out for rockfalls: mostly for debris on the road, but also listen out and watch for live falls: be prepared to stop in the distance you can see, and don’t go hurtling round blind bends. Lastly… I had four layers on for the descent, including a windproof top layer, and a skull-cap under my helmet, and it was still jolly cold. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!