La Grande DixenceBy Will • Sep 29th, 2008 • Category: Climbs, Cycling
Another great climb up to an Alpine hydro-electric dam/lake.
Time is running out this year for the high Alps climbs but the weather forecast was cool yet perfect. So Eric and I headed to Sion in the Valais region of Switzerland to climb up to the Barrage de la Grande Dixence.
26.6 kilometres and 1680 metres (5500 feet) of ascent – this is a gigantic and beautiful ride well worth the visit.
The route starts out climbing above Sion. A little bit of traffic but after passing a couple of villages it becomes very quiet. After a flattish bit in the middle of the route, the best and hardest part begins.
With perhaps 9 or 10 kilometres to go, the huge dam comes into view high in the distance. It’s a daunting challenge. The last 5 kilometres wind up the end of the valley on superb and steep hairpins before the route ends at the bottom of the massive dam wall.
A steep ramp hit me pretty hard and I stopped to enjoy the atmosphere, eat a little, and mentally prepare myself for this last stretch.
At the end of the road, we of course wanted to see the lake. I had a road bike and thus needed to take a cable car up to the top. Meanwhile Eric (being Eric) took his mountain bike up a very steep but rideable little gravel road and we met up top on the dam itself – a very cold but beautiful 2365 metres.
It’s a huge lake – with high snow covered Alps at the far end. Unlike Lac d’Emesson, the water is more gray than blue giving a more remote feel.
There is a lots of hiking up top and also a trail on the right side that appears rideable for a long way along side the lake. Maybe we’ll try exploring next year.
Ooops, I left my GPS on when I took the Cable car …. 220 of the easiest metres this year!