Monte Chaberton: Get behind the wheels for one of the planet’s most challenging trips
Strada militare dello Chaberton is an extreme high mountain track climbing up to the fort on top of French Mont Chaberton at an elevation of 3.131m (10,272ft) above the sea level. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Europe.
This carriage road, also known as Strada militare di Val Morino, was built between 1896 and 1898 by Italian troops that built an artillery battery on the summit that pointed towards France, in particular at the town of Briançon, and the pass to Italy over the Col de Montgenèvre. The fort was dubbed the "Fort of the Clouds" and mounted eight 149mm guns in individual masonry turrets, which were often hidden in the clouds.This old military road, with a length of 14,836 km used to be the highest unpaved road of the Alps. However, the runway is no longer continuously driveable.
This road to the Battery Chaberton starts in the village of Fénils in the Italian Susa Valley. In present days the runway is extremely poor and at an altitude of 2,300 meters the way is almost no longer passable. After pushing your bike up to the Colle delle Chaberton, at 2,674m above the sea level, you can likely ride your bike on a 17% slope to the fort on top of Mont Chaberton.
The road, also called 'Fenils-Chaberton', has a speed limit of 30km/h. Nowadays is totally closed to any motorized vehicle. It's driveable, in parts, only by authorized cars since 1987. It’s located in the French Alps in the group known as the Massif des Cerces in the département of Hautes-Alpes. Until 1947 Mont Chaberton was in Italy, located in the municipality of Cesana Torinese. It's one of the highest mountain roads of the country.
To reach the top, the trail starts paved, near the Strada statale 24 del Monginevro in Fenils. After the village, the road becomes unpaved but in good condition to Grange Pra Claud. From here it is totally closed to motor vehicles. At this point, the trail is about a meter wide. In many places the debris have almost completely covered and the walls and supporting structures are largely collapsed.
Pic: Sandro Cadeddu