Col du Sanetsch (drone pics)


High in the Valais canton of Switzerland, Col du Sanetsch should be on anyone’s list of the toughest, most beautiful climbs in the Alps.

One weakness of the biggest/best Alpine cycling climbs? Sometimes the lower slopes are just “ok.” But the first seven kms of Col du Sanetsch are through rolling hills covered in vineyards:

These early kilometres have a touch of traffic due to a couple of perched villages, but it’s a wide, well-surfaced road. Above these villages, things get much quieter.

There are some fabulous hairpins:

There are three tunnels, one of them almost a kilometre long. But this is Switzerland … it’s nicely lit.

It’s 26 kilometres and almost 1800 metres of ascent to Col du Sanetsch (or Sanetschpass). But things get even better over the top. The road descends for a couple of kilometres as Lac de Sénin (or Lac de Sanetch) comes into view:

The route then rides beside the lake:

Lac de Sénin

Riding across the dam:

I rode Sanetsch on October 17th five years ago too. It was much colder:

The road ends just past the dam at a restaurant. So this is a there/back climb.

BUT, in summer, at the top is a tiny cable car that descends over the top down to Gsteig. They will take your bike. From here, one can make a gigantic route by climbing the easy but lovely Col du Pillon then descending to Aigle either directly or via Col de la Croix and riding back to the base of Sanetsch (it’s a long way) in the valley floor. I know a few people that have successfully completed this great loop thanks to the cable car.

Me, I just turned around. First climbing back to Col du Sanetsch:

Then, just 26 kilometres down to the start far below. I was crushed this ride. One of those days without energy. But even slowly and not in great form, this is a wonderful mountain.

Panorama view, 9 photos stitched together.

A 3D video of the route:


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Great Relive 3d route. Sorry to keep asking for trade secrets but how did you insert photos at just the correct points on Relive? Through Strava?

    • You need to post photos on strava soon after the ride is posted. If your photos and your gps file have the correct time settings then Relive will sync everything correctly.

  2. One of my favorite climbs in Switzerland. I did once the full loop with the tiny cable car, it is a very nice tour. But you need to be lucky as often they are a lot of people waiting to go down with the cable car (they just go up to eat at one of the restaurants then go back down), and you may not have a ticket available for the next 2hrs… Best is therefore to arrive at the top late morning

  3. Markus Bruengger on

    A made this loop this summer. Started in Martigny, Sion, Sanetsch, Gsteig, Col du Pillon, Martigny. Wonderful ride with a nice long climb and a great descend to Aigle. I will never forget it. Thanks Will for for these tour descriptions …. without that I would never have done this great tour. Cheers Markus

  4. Hi Will,
    did the loop you described with the cable car (Pillon, Croix) a few weeks back. Nice one, thanks for the never ending inspiration!
    The cable car takes 4 bikes – all places occupied when I descended, so it’s true that you have to take a possible waiting time into account.
    As far as I understood the restaurant next to the lake will be opening soon again -now it was quite a deserted place.

    • Frank Cheshire on

      Did this ride on Sunday – amazing! – although you neglected to mention how steep it is at the very start through the lower vineyards Will – ouch! 🙂 Pretty busy with Sunday traffic but wow what a ride, the views are sublime and you’re 100% right in saying it just gets batter once you start dropping down to the lake – almost felt like riding in Iceland with the waterfalls cascading down the grey moraine rocks on the far side of the lake. Loved (almost;) every minute of it. Thanks again for the inspiration!

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