From there, about four miles remain. Above the treeline, the mistral winds rip. The 5 percent gradient should feel easy after such steep pitches, but after an hour or more of climbing, it seems like purgatory. When you finally reach the summit, the panoramic views of the French countryside are a revelation. Stateside Alternative: Onion Valley Road, near Independence, California, has a similar elevation profile—and magnificent views of the snowcapped Sierras.