Lac de Cleuson Walk, Val de Nendaz, Valais, Switzerland

After scouring the map for something new, I came up with this circular walk from Siviez, which takes in Lac de Cleuson as well as the Ancien Bisse de Chervé (an old watercourse). My decision to go in a clockwise direction proved fortunate in that I was in the sunshine for the vast majority of the time. The combination of low winter sun and high mountains meant that if I had gone in the reverse direction, I would have been in the shade most of the time.

As you will see from the photos, it was very cold in the shade, with the stream at the far end of the lake (see pics 15 to 17) almost completely frozen. It proved a challenge to cross but, after scrambling about 30 metres up the right hand side, I found a large, dry rock in the middle, which helped me to jump across.

The ice had the last laugh though, as on the return path I rather carelessly slipped and took a tumble. The worst bit wasn’t the pain of hitting the rock hard ice with my hip and cutting my elbow and finger (only slightly thankfully), nor the fear of sliding off the path onto a 45 degree slope as I went along on my back, nor even the embarrassment as the couple of walkers following behind came around the corner to find me struggling to get up. No, it was that split second, where time seems to stand still, when my left foot went from under me and, as I looked down, realised that the only place I could put my right foot, to correct the fall, was slap bang in the middle of the self same ice. Time restarted. I was on my back in a flash and went sliding along. I managed to dig my (very sturdy) GPS into the ice to arrest my slide and I came to a stop about 2 metres further on. Needless to say, I will be more careful in future!

To add insult to my injuries, the bisse proved a bit of a disappointment. OK, the path was relatively flat and it provided nice views over the valley, but there was hardly any evidence that a bisse ever existed. That is, apart from the struts sticking out of the rock in pic 35. In addition the final descent ‘path’, which looked good on the map, proved to be the service track up to the ski installations. (What a mess it all looks until the snow arrives!) And if you look very carefully at pic 37, you will see that the young man, on the left with the dog, is carrying a gun. The hunting season must still be under way. (It’s no wonder I never saw any animals, they must all be in hiding!)

Note that the first picture was taken on my way to Siviez.

14 thoughts on “Lac de Cleuson Walk, Val de Nendaz, Valais, Switzerland

    • Yes indeed. I’ve toppled a few times after losing my balance on rocks, but you certainly learn by your mistakes! But at least I live to fight/walk another day! (There are often stories of 60+ year olds slipping or falling to their deaths – let’s just hope I’m not another one of them).

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  1. Holy cow, Mike, omgosh! Knowing you’re okay, I can’t help but reread your thoughts about the fall and giggle a little. I’ve had past experiences with the slow-mo spill, the embarrassment, etc, etc. Geez, now that I’m saying that, I did take a spill on my e-bike last month trying to turn and my front wheel hit loose sand. I stopped dead still, and fell slow-mo sideways, missing my foot hold, and really just went down onto my butt. Rick saw me do it, I immediately hollered I’m fine (because of my replaced knee), and then my husband took a photo of me. No, I am not sharing the photo on my blog!!!!! hehe

    Back to your photos, excellent series, Mike! I love love love the reflections, and the cross too. With the shots of the narrow tree paths knowing where to go (I see marks on trees but still looks like a primitive path) and the skinny paths alongside the mountains, those are pretty tough looking to follow. Especially trying to hang on! Was there a rope along the mountain skinny paths? You’re amazing doing these adventures!

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    • Wow! It sounds like you had a bigger fall than me – and certainly at more speed! I hope any injuries have recovered. (I still have quite a bruise on my hip). And, most of the paths around here (and Europe for that matter) are quite ‘primitive’ as you call it – being quite narrow and ‘natural’. They do put ropes or cables up when it gets super-risky, like when you could fall quite a way down, but that’s all. You (I) just have to be careful! I’ll see if I can find some more crosses today. But I’m expecting to see more ski lifts and closed restaurants today. Après-walk has taken a back seat recently! ☹

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    • Yes, you often find little churches like that near, or on the top of, some of the dams. Not sure why but you do see tiny churches all over Switzerland, so why not there, eh? As for a bisse, it’s an old irrigation channel, very cleverly engineered to let water flow to water the crops. More info here: https://www.valais.ch/en/activities/hiking/bisses but if you search on my About page for ‘bisse’ you will see that I’ve walked quite a few (the paths are obviously quite flat) but they do have to connect them up sometimes in some very vertiginous places! (I hope to do one today, so watch this space too…!) 😊

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