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Scenes of Sanetsch

A walk round the Lac de Sénin, or Sanetsch See, October 2015


You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

We've recently come back from Wisconsin, and today we're taking a trip up memory lane to the Col de Sanetsch in the Swiss canton of Valais high above Sion.

The Sanetsch Tour du Lac (or Seerundweg), 1 October 2015

First stop: the Hotel-restaurant du Sanetsch at 2047m, an hour's drive up from Sion on the Rhône River, the capital of the canton of Valais.

I had a regular running route past this place in the 1980s and early '90s, and at that time it was apparently abandoned and boarded up. Clearly things are looking up.

The hotel sits on the southern edge of the pastures around Sanetsch, overlooking a plunging path 400 vertical metres straight down to the highest little villages along the gorge of La Morge. Very hard on the knees descending it.

Nothing like a good coat of paint to spruce a place up, and some new outbuildings to go with it. The hotel is basic (bathroom down the hall), but the small rooms are comfortable, the restaurant (on the left) slightly higher priced (like all mountain restaurants where resupplying them is expensive) but wonderful, the breakfasts expensive and worthless, and of course the views are incredible.

The view from the hotel carpark, with the running path that drops off like a parachute training exercise without the parachute, and the Valaisan Alps across the Rhône valley.

The view zoomed: the flat glacier and the Dent d'Herens in the centre, and behind the little cloud to the left, the Matterhorn

The road, nearly indiscernible here -- it winds up the far side of the Morge, then traverses towards us through the rocks by means of an 800m tunnel.

Our room was the two windows on the left of the second floor down. And it's a glorious, though chilly, day.

The flag of Savièse, the large municipal jurisdiction far down the mountain within which the Sanetschpass resides (in the USA, placing your local flag above the national flag is a big no-no)

The noble drapeau, with the mountain Le Sublage (2735m) looming

The noble drapeau from our room

This in the Lac de Sénin (in French), the Sanetsch See (in German) -- we're on the linguistic frontier here, and both names are equally okay. From the hotel, we've driven north over the Col du Sanetsch (or Col de Sénin) at 2252m and come down upon the lake for a good walk around it.

This is the Barrage, or dam, at the far end of the lake, 2034m in altitude -- the Postal Bus comes up here in the summer, but this is the end of the road, or rather . . .

. . . the road ends at the Auberge du Sanetsch. On the far side of the auberge, a hiking path descends like a plumb bob down to the village of Gsteig, near Gstaad in the canton of Berne, but there is a cable car that comes up from that direction to serve the hotel and summer hikers.

The Barrage, with the front parts of the might Arpelistock on the horizon

The Lac de Sénin from the dam. My old running route came from Gsteig at 1180m straight up, partially under waterfalls, to this dam at 2048m (about an hour), then about 20 minutes for the 4km up to the Col du Sanetsch (2252m) on the centre horizon in this photo, then like jumping out of an airplane down roads and intersecting paths, past the Pont du Diable! (905m), to the village of Chandolin (818m), reluctantly back uphill on roads to Granois (857m), and down through vineyards to the rail station in Sion (491m; 28km in all, 3:17 best). Unable to carry a camera along at the time.

Kristin on the dam, fitted out for our walk. It's about 5°C with a chilly wind in the open.

The reservoir and the dam, looking southwest, as we set out

Yellow means good sign-posted walking, the red-and-white addition indicates mountain conditions.

So off we go

Kristin, whilst I'm retying my shoelaces, cannot wait.

Farther along the alluvial fan of rock down from the Rossgrabelücke -- that's right, the Rossgrabelücke

Towards the rocky bluff near the southern end of the lake, the Sanetschhore and Dent Blanche in the background

All the modern conveniences

Over the bluff

Awaiting the stragglers

Nearing the end of the lake

The creek flowing into the lake: this is the headwaters of La Sarine (Saane in German), which rises here, exits from the dam down to Gsteig, flows north through the Bernese Oberland past Gstaad and west past Saanen and Château-d'Oex, north past Gruyères and through the city of Fribourg, finally to join the Aare near Berne.

The bridge over the Sarine

The Sarine and the Sanetsch See . . .

. . . with the dam at the far end

Crossing a tributary

An island in the lake

Up and over . . .

. . . and under

Late afternoon sunlight

Back to the dam and the Auberge du Sanetsch. An easy 90-minute walk at a very relaxed pace (the sign-time is 1 hour)

From the Col du Sanetsch, we're looking up across the lapiez at the Glacier of Tsanfleuron and the massif of Les Diablerets. We'd planned to walk up there the following day, but news of a packed-house group coming to our hotel made us reconsider our second day there, and go home.

Squirrel has been awaiting our return

Catching up on the news

The drive down towards Sion, with the Château de Tourbillon (left) and the castle/church of Valère on their rocky outcrops


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 27 October 2015.


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