Dwight Peck's personal website

Lac d'Hongrin and Leysin's backside

near Leysin, Switzerland

The lovely village of Leysin, in the Swiss Alps, sprawls at 1250m-1450m on the flank of a range of six small limestone peaks. These little peaks are wonderful in all seasons.

The Lac d'Hongrin was created in 1969 out of what must have been a humongous gorge. Beyond the double-arch dam seen here, the valley of the Hongrin creek leads down to the town of Allières and out through an even more vicious gorge to Montbovon, and eventually to Gruyères and the North Sea.

The double-arch dam is apparently uncommon, but there's a monstrous rock buttress right between them so it must have made sense to anchor the thing somewhere.

When they dammed up the Hongrin in 1969, understandably a lake resulted, now 2.7 km long, and we're told that it holds 53 million cubic meters of water, though historically I've often seen it with a much lower water-level than in this photo (July 2006).

This view is looking towards La Lecherette, the tiny farming-skiing village along the Col des Mosses road between Aigle and Château d'Oex. The lake level, in its proudest moments, is about 1255m asl. As of July 2006, the restaurant in La Lecherette can make a dynamite ham sandwich to go.

In the other direction, that's the mighty Tour de Famelon on the horizon, one of the Leysin Tours, and the village of Leysin is 6 or 7 kilometres down the far side of that.

That's the double-arch dam, or "barrage" in French, with the Tour de Mayen way up there on the horizon. Water from the lake is dumped down a pipeline to Veytaux (near Montreux) on the Lake of Geneva (Lac Léman) to produce electricity. I've heard that there is a clever scheme at work, whereby the water is let down the pipe in the daytimes to generate electricity at peak prices, and then pumped up the pipe to the lake again overnight when the electricity costs of pumping it up are priced at the nighttime rates.

That's the original gorge of the Hongrin creek, some 125m lower than we are now.

Alongside the barrage d'Hongrin, the cliffside, and the original tunnel hewn out of the rock leading down the valley towards Allières and Montbovon. The aging narrator formerly had a running route from Leysin over the Pierre du Moëllé down to an arm of the lake, across the dam, through that tunnel and down to Allières, up to the Col de Jaman, past Les Avants, and down the Gorge du Chauderon to Montreux, in approximately four hours (and 32 seconds). Another route came over the dam to Allières and out to Gruyères. The valley below the dam is very beautiful but closed to automobiles.

The tunnel down the valley towards Allières (1979)

The Leysin Tours seen from the valley of Ayerne, on the shores of the Lac d'Hongrin. The 12km valley on the far side of the Leysin Tours to the north is one of the largest Swiss "places d'armes", or military training grounds. This very spot witnesses mortar practice and tank maneuvres frequently during the year, and if you want to hike, bike, or ski through here you have to pick your days.

That cliffline, to the left of the Tour de Mayen, is the imposing backside of Sur les Truex above Leysin.

And that's the Tour de Famelon, with a lot of broken ground "behind it" ("in front" of it from this side) that served the narrator well for snowcaving spots back in the old days.

To speak the truth for once, we came here on 16 July 2006 to make a hike from here over to the Rochers de Naye, but scenic beauty and general laziness intervened, so we've got lots of time to take photographs. We'll just walk on up through the insects to the Pertuis d'Aveneyre behind us and call it a day well-spent.

As we're hiking up a bit now, that's the ridge of Mont d'Or, with the Mont d'Or summit on the right and the Gros Van on the left. The village of Col des Mosses is over on the far side of that.

The Leysin Tours from the north: Mayen (2326m) on the left, Aï (2331m) on the right.

From left, Sur les Truex, Tour de Mayen, Tour d'Aï

Les Cases (1752m)

Kristin on the Pertuis d'Aveneyre (1846m) overlooking Lake Geneva.

The Leysin range, from left, Tour de Famelon (2137m), Sur les Truex (2194m), Tour de Mayen (2326m), Tour d'Aï (2331m). Only Berneuse (with the revolving restaurant) and La Riondaz are missing off to the right.

The Lac d'Hongrin snowed over, early 1980s.

A kayak in Lac d'Hongrin, 1983

More recent photos of the Hongrin, 2017

Index of Leysin local mountain photos

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 26 August 2006, revised 17 January 2008, 29 August 2014.

Leysin mountains

Leysin scenery

Leysin village

American College of Switzerland