The Valais region is a winter wonderland, however, there is so much to see and do in Summer too. There are bright blue lakes, via ferrata climbing routes, the tallest dam in Europe, mountain biking trails and an infinite number of incredible hikes.
The highest peak in the Thyon region is 3330m and the view in both summer and winter is incredible. To see over the crystal blue lakes and out to the glaciers takes your breath away. Looking out over the Alps has given me so much respect for the Swiss for being able to thrive in this rocky, extreme landscape for such a long time.
The stunning view from the cable car on the way up.
Via Ferrata, Saillon
This is my favourite via ferrata route so far. Via ferratas are climbing routes with steel cables and ladder rungs fixed into the rock. Climbers use a harness with two leashes attached to the steel cables. This particular via ferrata route is called Via Ferrata La Farinetta and is found in the valley of Saillon. The walk to the cable is up alongside a creek. Once you reach the waterfall, there is a steep set of stairs and this is where the climb starts.
There are three parts to the climb. The first part is beautiful and takes around an hour. It requires moderate fitness and climbing skills. After the stairs, you will attach to the cable and begin by walking up a narrow sandy path. There are a few ladder rungs to navigate before you get to the first monkey bridge. This one is quite long and if you don’t like the look of it, it’s your best opportunity to turn back. The monkey bridge walks over the tree tops and takes your breath away a little.
On the new side of the rock wall, there are a few more ladder rungs before another short monkey bridge. From here, the climb goes up steeply and you end up climbing alongside the waterfall. In the summer, the climb goes partially into the waterfall. If it is a warm day, the water is so refreshing. At the top, there is an ‘escape point’ and this marks the end of part one. If you are relatively new to via ferratas, this is a good place to walk back to the car from. You walk down alongside the grape vines and have a beautiful view over Saillon valley.
Part two requires stronger climbing ability. The first part (which I don’t enjoy that much) involves traversing across the rock face rather than going up. It requires quite a bit of strength as there are parts where you have to hold yourself up. At the end of the traverse there is a cavern that you walk through and can take a break. The final part of this climb is relatively strenuous to the top. At the end of this part there is a large suspension bridge that overlooks the climb that you’ve just done and out over the Saillon Valley. This is where I end the climb. The walk down from this point takes around an hour.
I have not attempted this section before. It is very strenuous and is for advanced climbers only. There are multiple overhanging sections and it is not possible to turn around once you have started. The walk down from all points winds through the vineyards and is beautiful in itself.
- This is not a beginner Via Ferrata. Only attempt it if you have climbed before and have a good level of strength and fitness.
- Ensure you have the right gear and that it is in good condition.
- Take some food and water. It can be really hot in the valley and the walk back down is in direct sunlight.
- Respect the other climbers and take all of your rubbish home with you.
Lac de Cleuson
Located in the Nendaz region, Lac de Cleuson is one of the most incredible lakes I have ever seen. Ever. The lake is accessed along a narrow road that winds up the mountain. The road starts at the Siviez carpark and there are a few deep water drains on the road so be wary of them. There is a path that goes around the lake and makes for a beautiful hike. If the wildflowers are out, you are in for a treat.
If hiking up and down mountains isn’t your thing or you want a more relaxed hike for the day, the many Bisse trails are perfect for you. These trails follow the Bisses which are open ditches that carry water from mountain streams to farm land and orchards. They are generally relatively flat trails and some are even wheelchair friendly. There are many Bisse trails in the Valais region with some beginning in Veysonnaz, Beuson and Planchouet.
Mountain Biking and Scootering
I’m personally not super into mountain biking, however, Thyon is a hotspot for the sport. The ski slopes turn into ideal mountain biking routes with kilometres of easier and more difficult trails to choose from. You can also rent mountain scooters from Thyon during the summer if you haven’t got a bike.
There is so much to do in the Valais region in Summer that I have decided to split my recommendations into two blog posts. Read part two here.