In 1927, 15 members of the Civil Service Motoring Association took on an epic drive from London to the Col du Galibier in the French Alps. Both motoring and international travel were still very much in their infancy and the trip reflected the pioneering, adventuring spirit of CSMA, which had been formed just four years previously.
The trip took a week and despite various punctures and breakdowns, everyone made it to the Galibier. The mountain roads were made of dirt, the surrounding villages were still to grow with ski tourism (Valloire, the main ski station on the north of the Galibier, only opened for skiing in the 1930s). But alongside the spirit of venturing into the unknown the 1927 tourists had a joie de vivre: they were met by local dignitaries at each town they stopped at, eating well at formal dinners, with speeches of congratulations from local mayors. Reports of the trip talk of swimming in rivers, eating fruit from roadside trees and making midnight trips to sample Paris nightlife.
In May, we set out to reproduce that 1927 trip, joining the route halfway down, at Lyon. Even though the threat of avalanche meant that the road up the Galibier was closed, a local guide helped photographer Pete Goding and write Duncan Steer snow-shoe to the top. Here is our video from the pass, the point that the CSMA reached all those years ago.