To become a famous climb in a pro Tour usually means the pass is either a key road linking different regions or the top is a major ski station. Col du Sanetsch is neither (thus lessor known), but is more difficult and more beautiful than many of its more famous counterparts (and far quieter).
The climb (map at bottom): 25.7 kms (16 miles); Ascent: 1770 metres (5800 feet)
In the Valais region of Switzerland, Col du Sanetsch is one of the toughest climbs in Swiss Romande (French Switzerland). Starting near Sion, this quiet, well surfaced road just climbs and climbs, leading finally to a glacier lake and dam four kms over the Col.
The road stops here although hikers can arrive from the other side by taking a little cable-car from Gsteig.
The road is solely for hikers/tourists, farmers, dam maintenance …… and cyclists!
The beginning of the climb winds through beautiful, typically Swiss, vineyards. The middle of the climb passes through light forest and past a nice waterfall, and the top of the climb reaches above the tree line with spectacular views in all directions including the nearby Diableret glacier.
The entire route is superb.
Unfortunately, at the top, the Col sign was missing, so I used the bus stop (!!) as a substitute (yellow sign in photo above) – the Swiss are just great at public transport to beautiful tourist sites.
For tunnel fans (not me!) there is an 800 metre dark tunnel up high … luckily there is a little bit of light inside … not too bad.
While I struggled a little in the heat, in summary, let me say that Eric and I thoroughly enjoyed this huge climb. It is definitely a hidden gem.
We descended a slightly different way, via Chandolin – see map. This adds a couple of great cliff kilometres through the gorge as well as an alternate vineyard descent.
Below, Some nice hairpins:
Highlight of the day? We shared a tasty assiette Valaisienne at the barrage: