Seven Cycling Climbs with Great Skate-Skiing in Winter


Nordic (Cross Country) Skate Skiing may be the perfect full body work-out. And not surprisingly, near Geneva many of the best locations are at the top of interesting cycling climbs.

Plateau Beauregard

It’s been a cold, snow-filled, fantastic winter so far. And while I have a fairly good track record of doing freezing, icy, snowy, silly winter cycling climbs …. this winter I decided to focus on cross country skiing for a while.

I purchased a Rhône-Alpes Region Nordic Skiing Season Pass and it has been getting good use (link to the official Rhône-Alps Nordic Skiing web site and all 83 locations).

Here are seven cycling climbs with great skate-skiing in winter – all within an hour of Geneva (see map below for locations). Feel free to suggest any I may have forgotten.

1. Plateau des Glières

My favourite location. Two challenging black / red routes surrounded by mountains and next to the Monument National de la Resistance.

It’s a great cycling climb (both sides) – see here.

2. La Vattay (Jura Mountains)

More than 100 kms of trails at all difficulty levels. Half the trails on a high, beautiful plateau, and the other half through mountain forests – leading to a fabulous Mont Blanc lookout.

La Vattay is near Col de la Faucille, but the trails pass a little known, very challenging climb: Col de la Vattay (also known as Col de Combe Blanche). Cycling details here.

3. Plateau Beauregard

See photo at top of page. Starting at Col de la Croix Fry, this medium size centre has a few short greens, blues, reds, and blacks — with stunning views of the Aravis Alps:

Col de la Croix Fry is one of my very favourite winter cycling climbs, details here.

4. Mont Revard

With more than 150 kilometres of trails, Savoie Grand Revard nordic ski centre is huge. It has plenty of trails of all difficulties – almost endless challenges.

High above Lac du Bourget, Mont Revard will also appear in the 2013 Tour de France. Climb details here and here.

5. Le Confins

A few kilometres above La Clusaz ski station in the Aravis alps is the well situated Les Confins nordic ski centre. Take the black trail up to some fabulous views (above). Les Confins also has a very difficult trail linking it to Le Grand Bornand which has a biathlon track.

Col des Confins is a steepish 6 km cycling climb that can be combined with some of its more famous neighbours such as Col de la Colombière, Col des Aravis or — see here — Col de la Croix Fry.

6. Plateau de Retord

In the Jura mountains above Bellegarde, Plateau de Retord has more than 100 kms of trails of all difficulty levels.

The main entrance is at Col du Cuvéry, a medium sized, quiet cycling climb that can be combined with other nearby cols for some fantastic cycling. Examples here.

7. Praz de lys

Praz de Lys ski station has cross country ski trails that allow skate-skiing up to Col de la Ramaz from either side (Sommand or Savolière). Surrounded by high mountains, it is a perfect location.

Col de la Ramaz is a challenging cycling climb from either side. The west side appeared in the 2011 Tour de France.

View Cross Country Skiing Near Geneva in a larger map


About Author

Happiest while cycling uphill. More enthusiastic than talented, my 2014 Challenge is to cycle 50 great rides, slowly.


  1. Sebastian di Paola on

    Great stuff Will. Love the blog and good to see you on Strava too. You’ve left out Col de Joux Plane, which has some nice skate skiing runs, and plateau de Plaine Joux in the Massif des Brasses, which is a great cycling climb from three sides (Viuz, Onnion and Villard). Pretty sure we can come up with more… Stay wax / rubber-side down and enjoy the season! SdP.

  2. Salut Sebastian,

    I’ll try and visit Plaine Joux – I don’t know it.

    Thanks. I excluded Joux Plane because the road is often closed but I agree it is a great location. Also from a cycling point of view, it is one of my favourite winter clinbs:

    Another high, local Ski de Fond location is at the Flaine Golf course – exactly beside Col de Pierre Carrée at 1844 metres. Very nice, if small.

  3. Hello !
    Sympa cet article, ça donne envie de faire du ski de fond…
    Une autre destination sympa dans le Jura à essayer bien que un peu plus loin que la Vattay: le secteur des “Hautes Combes”. Tu te gares par exemple à la Pesse, puis tu peux faire une belle boucle via le col du Merle > Bellecombe > Les Molunes > Les Moussières. Une sacré boucle parmi d’autres possibles (plus de 200km de pistes).

  4. Sebastian di Paola on

    You’re right Will, and indeed Joux Plane is closed for xcountry skiing at the moment since the runs down in Samoens and all the way to Sixt are open. I think they open it once it starts to melt down in the valley, so should be any day now… Another nice local one I visited recently is the Col des Moises, which has 20kms or so of fairly gentle xcountry skiing, and a run which links to the Col du Feu. Both good Vallée Verte cycling climbs.

    La Pierre Carrée is a nice one too, and there’s also Agy just above St Sigismond which is sort of on that cycling climb if you take it from the Col de Chatillon. So much more skating to squeeze in before the season is out!

  5. Merci Bastien!


    I’ve cycled by Moises when there is snow, but never tried the XC skiing – thx for the idea.

    Yes, I know Agy. Small but very nice:

    self portrait @ Agy

    Ha, If only you had commented a couple of says ago. I just visited Joux Plane on mountain bike and had to hike the last five kilometres since it hadn’t been cleared beyond the barrier: But I made it to the top :)

    col de Joux Plane

  6. Pingback: Col de la Ramaz

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