|Exploring the Plateau by bike|
Towards the end of last week I decided to take the access chairlift up to the plateau area of the resort to see what kind of existing trail network was around up there more suited to xc/singletrack type riding (the stuff that normal folks with a properly functioning sense of self preservation enjoy riding!). As expected the going wasn't easy, for a start, as I knew from previous exploits riding around St. Anton am Arlberg in the summer, pistes are a lot steeper than you realize without snow and a whole lot rockier!
The run off from the upper slopes was the only sound disturbing the silence, Mugs alley and the Haggis Trap both become streams in the springtime, carrying with them artifacts from the winter, lost lift passes, gloves and unfortunately a few bits of litter. After a few photos at the bottom of the Cliffhanger chair I thought I'd try and pedal up to the mid station, there is a fairly clear track running past the ski club hut towards the top of the poma lift, over a few makeshift metal bridges put there for the argocat which allow the lifties access to perform maintenance on the lifts. Past that the going gets tough, I tried going straight up Mugs alley but the combination of gradient, uneven terrain and boggy ground meant that the bike had to be shouldered for the short hike to the cat track. Possibly riding further on past the poma and back again might be more manageable.
Once up there it was back on the bike across the snow and to the top of the cliffy, surprisingly not all that hard a ride. I carried on to the ski patrol station and up to the top of the Wall T-bar.
I had hoped there would be an obvious track off the shoulder of the hill all the way back to the plateau but nothing was jumping out so I headed straight down!
I didn't last long before dismounting, the terrain was too steep for a chicken like me so I trudged down until it flattened out a bit. Hopping back on the bike i rode straight across the flat area past all the lifts and pistes and towards Creag Dubh, again as i climbed I found the terrain to uneven so walked to the cairns and admired the stunning views over the valley and the Buachaille. Riding back down to the Eagles Rest was much easier going than i expected, actually quite fun! After that I thought I'd try the DH track on my hardtail...it wasn't long before I was walking again!
In terms of gradients and terrain the potential for the Plateau area is huge, it won't take much to bed in a few decent track that intersect the bowl and also ones that form a circuit. The views up there make it a really special place to enjoy a bike ride, most UK trails are along valley floors and in forests which means you don't tend to see much other than the trail in front of you or an occasional view, up there you are spoiled with a panorama of the highlands.