Seeing those Valaisan Blacknose sheep the other day reminded me of the first time that I ever encountered them, which was at an event that takes place every year at the Gemmipass, near Leukerbad. Essentially, 100’s of sheep are herded up to the Gemmipass in July, to graze on the upper pastures during the summer, then led back down again around mid-September. Nothing particularly amazing about that I hear you say… until you look at the path…
When you arrive at Leukerbad, you are faced with a huge wall of rock (pic 1). Indeed, the longest via ferrata in Switzerland goes up from Leukerbad, but that’s another story. Looking up, you would not believe that a human could climb up that rock face, let alone a flock of sheep. But sure enough, they do, along a path that has to be seen to be believed (pic 8).
Luckily there is a cable car to take you to the top, which gives you the best view of the path. So, even if you don’t go to watch the sheep descend, as we did, the path itself and the magnificent views from the restaurant at the top are well worth seeing.
For walkers/runners – from the cable car station, the path climbs around 1,150 metres (3,800 ft) in just over 3.5 k (2 miles). If you like a challenge, I’m told that if you can get to the top station in under an hour, you can get a free ride back down on the cable car. (My nephew, Peter, and I did it a couple of years ago and it took us around one and a half hours of almost solid hiking, so you’ll need to be very fit).