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.
Good tip for another nice route in Valais. Thanks. Is gravel stretch towards the dam rideable on road bike?
It’s very good quality gravel, and occasionally it is also paved again. IF you are not too fussy, it is definitely do-able until the damn. After the damn, it is too rough.
I did it on a road bike 2 weeks ago. Was no issue. Was afraid to get a flat, but no issue
Thanks. Perhaps, we will try that one in future.
last Friday I climbed to Lac de Cleuson with a friend from Aproz taking a smaller road up to Haute-Nendaz and then following a road which stays well above the main road to Siviez and turns into a gravel road before entering Val de Nendaz (west side of valley). Shortly before Siviez it joins the asphalt road. We had hardtail MTBs and where still fit enough when reaching the dam and thus decided to continue on the road along the east side of the lake. We climbed the trail up to the mountain hut “Saint Laurent at 2485m. On two stretches we were forced to push the bikes because the trail was too steep, rough and partly wet, but the rest was fine. The view of the lake from the far side above was spectacular and well worth the effort and a cool Belgian beer compensated our thirst.
well done Markus, sounds like you found a better way up than mine, at least for Mtbs
Will, as Markus mentioned, on a MTB it is better to take a gravel road up to Siviez. And then keep on after the lake up to the Saint Laurent hut at 2485m, and have a fantastic view on the lake. I did the full route on an XC bike without a problem. See the route attached from Haute-Nendaz: https://www.strava.com/routes/2850675809762266784
excellent, thanks for the tip