Readers of this site know I love roads to high Alpine dams/lakes. And the Valais region of Switzerland is full of hors categorie climbs to some of the biggest dams in the world. This ride would go to a smaller dam/lake in the region but with 1700 metres of ascent it’s a long way to the top.
Note: the last 3.5 kms of this climb are unpaved – but a decent gravel surface. Additionally, I looped around the lake on a rough road on one side, and trails on the other – so thicker tires required. I actually started half way up in Haute-Nendaz. Descending to the valley floor in Sion, reclimbing on my road bike, then switching to my hybrid so I could do the unpaved stuff higher. 🙂
For more big climbs to Alpine lakes/dams see here.
I took only one photo before the unpaved stuff. The first 20 kilometres are fine, on a big ski station road. It would probably be much quieter in spring or autumn, but with the wide road and polite Swiss drivers the occasional traffic was ok. Plenty of beautiful Swiss views of course. But it’s at Siviez – a little ski station – where the road gets tiny, steeper, and fun. Note, lower down, I took a slighty longer route on the map than on the profile as I passed through Haute-Nendaz. For the direct way just follow signs to Siviez when they appear.
Perhaps a 1/3 of the way up:
With a similar start near Sion, across the valley is the road to Col du Sanetsch – one of the truly great climbs in all Switzerland. Details here.
I’d been feeling fit recently but for some reason today was a “jour-sans.” No energy. But I hung in there and made it to the dam. Phew and woohoo. Last few kms viewed from the dam:
At the dam itself is a rough road along the left side of the lake.
At the far side, it certainly goes higher beyond the lake and I briefly started up. But I was sadly too knackered to explore. Instead, I took a hiking trail down and around the entire lake. Very rough, perhaps 50% ride-able, but beautiful.
Another fabulous damn Valais dam climb. The highlight of this ride is of course the quieter unpaved stretch and the lake itself. The paved part of the climb is fine. Good not great.