Plateau des Glieres


On beautiful sunny days like this I often get a little too ambitious.

I have climbed the Col des Glieres from the west side a couple of times but never from the East. Both are beautiful, challenging, quiet climbs leading to the Plateau des Glieres.

As I drove the short drive to the start at Le Petit Bornand – it was clear that the snow line was lower than I had thought – I almost changed plans – but nothing ventured nothing gained.

Plateau des Glieres was the location of one of the biggest battles between the French Resistance and the Nazis in World War 2. There is a well done hike detailing the history. Click here for a Wikipedia link with more info on the history of the Maquis des Glieres. Maquis – meaning long brush or scrub – was the nickname for the French resistance – as they would often disappear into the Maquis to hide.

This is as steep a ride as you can find on paved roads with several kilometres averaging 12% – one even has a flat part and still averages 12% – do the math!

At about 1,000 metres (the top is just over 1,400 metres), I started to run into snow and ice on long stretches shaded from the sun.

My tires were slipping and I considered turning around – but I promised myself I would descend the crazy parts by foot – so I continued.

I figured I was going slow enough uphill that I couldn’t hurt myself slipping, and while it was getting colder and icier, I was making progress.

Nearing the top, I found the sun again – it was warm! The Plateau itself is beautiful – the cross-country skiing trails were already groomed and I saw two skiers, but the last – not steep part – to the Col sign was in deep snow (green part of Elevation chart), so I took a few pics and turned around.

This was the slowest descent of my life – treacherous. And keeping my word to myself, I jogged about two kilometres – just too silly to risk crashing.

Fantastic ride!

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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. I would have walked too. First hand experience with ice has taught me to be conservative, especially when descending!

    Is it considered OK to ride on ski trails? Snow riding is a lot of fun, and a good workout too.

    Beautiful photos, as usual.

  2. Hi Mark,

    Not sure if its OK, but I decided against it – it seemed bad form – the tracks are clearly for the skiers.

    yes, snow is a bit like sand – if I was less nervous about descending before sun started setting, I would have continued. In summer the trails up here are great.

  3. Awesome shots! I know you emailed me back about your “revolutionary new Madone” (funny)! But what bike is pictured in this post? And.. how far are these rides from your home?

  4. Hi Donald,

    This is a Scott Hybrid (not a very fancy one) – it’s a bit faster and more comfortable than my mountain bike and can take a little bit of trail riding – the start for this ride is about 20 miles from home (10 as crow flies)

  5. Pingback: Cycling Challenge » Cycling » Top 5 Cycling Climbs — Lake Annecy

  6. Pingback: Col des Glieres - West Side : Cycling Challenge

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