Pic d’Artsinol Walk, Val d’Hérens, Switzerland

Very occasionally, when I’m out walking I see the odd ‘lost’ piece of clothing, maybe a hat or a glove perhaps. But nothing could quite prepare my for the lost garment in picture 2. I’m sure there must be an intriguing story behind it, but the mind boggles!

As you will see from the gallery of photos, it was a rather a cold morning and many of the streams were completely frozen. As I approached the Pas d’Arpilles, two young guys appeared behind me and went passed in the blink of an eye. After exchanging pleasantries (in French) I caught up with them again just below the Col de la Meina. (They’d stopped to make a phone call). After another brief discussion in (my very poor) French, I heard one of them speak to the other in English. It turned out that they were British! (Both lawyers working in Geneva). You can see Sam and Alistair (my apologies if that’s Alastair) in pictures 16 and 23-25 below.

We walked together to the col, just below the Pic d’Artsinol, where we encountered another two walkers, who must have come up from the Hérémence valley. They were the only other people I saw all day. Both Sam and Alistair and I had to get back, so none of us actually went to the top and they left me having my lunch at the col, while they ran back down.

Pas de Lona Walk, Val d’Hérens, Valais, Switzerland

My last few walks have involved a drive down into the Rhone valley, so yesterday I decided to do a walk from home. But, to make this post a little more interesting (I hope), I’ve split it into 3 sections, describing each section of the walk as I go. Please let me know if you like, or indeed prefer, this type of format.

Part 1: After crossing the field to the side of our chalet, I picked up a recognised path which soon joins a wide track. This track has restricted vehicle access and ends after around 2.5kms (1.5 miles) at the small hamlet of Volovron, though there are some steep and narrow footpaths which allow you to cut off the corners.

From Volovron, the path ascends steeply into a wood where it continues to climb, though more gradually, until it exits at a cross path to a small group of chalets (and normally, in the summer, an open buvette/café) at La Vielle. This cross path is pretty much in the shade most of the day and there was a little snow and ice on the path, (pics 11 & 14), but this was safely negotiated. 😊

Part 2: Leaving La Vielle, the path is quite open, across the alpage (alpine meadow), before it turns left up to the Pas de Lona. The path becomes very steep just before the col and getting a good grip underfoot can be quite tricky. I wasn’t sure how much snow I would encounter and, before I’d turned the corner, I’d seen another walker about 300m (yds) ahead of me. I followed the recognised route, but as I crested the brow of a small hill, I saw that he had gone left and was walking up the grass and rocks, thereby avoiding much of the snow. (You can see him, in blue, towards the left of picture 20).

However, by now, I was committed to ‘my’ route, which initially involved hopping from one clear patch to another, before ultimately having to kick good foot holds into the snow to stop me sliding down the hill. It was slow, but safe, progress.

I eventually reached the col and was rewarded with a magnificent view over the Grimentz valley (pic 24). The other hiker was already there and he’s again visible in pic 22. I walked a little further across, through varying depths of snow (maybe 15cm to 40cm or 6″ to 16″) due to the drifts and was pleased to take a few pictures of the cross at the top with just my footsteps. (See pic 23). It was rather strange to see the ground completely covered in snow in one direction, but almost free of snow in another.

I had designs on walking up to the Becs de Bosson mountain hut and taking the path over the Pte de Tsevalire from there, but there was too much snow, so I took the ‘easy’ option and descended the way the other hiker had gone up.

Part 3: I stopped for lunch at Vielle, (a ham and tomato sandwich made with Jude’s wonderful sourdough bread. 😋), where I pondered my next move. I generally don’t like doing out and back routes, so, to make it into a sort of circular walk, I took the path down towards the village of Eison. I was surprised how much I had to descend before I turned left along a different path, again through the woods, to Volovron and then, from there, it was the same path back to Evolène.

Croix de la Chia Walk, Rhone valley, Switzerland

After being thwarted by the snow on my last walk, I discovered a route, again on the south facing side of the Rhone valley, which only went to 2,350m or 7,700ft. (This was about where the snow started last time). The objective was the Croix de la Chia, which sits at a col between two small peaks called Mont Gond and La Flava.

The map only showed a path to the col (with a route going down the other side), but I had secret hopes of trying to head towards, maybe even up to the top of, either Mont Gond or La Flava. Two dimensional maps can be deceiving of course and, if you look at pictures 26 and 27, you will see why I didn’t attempt either. There were two guys at the col when I arrived and they headed up towards La Flava, but I’m not sure if they even managed to climb over that first set of rocks.

I’ve also include a photo of the previously posted Bisse de Savièse, as seen from across the valley. (See pic 37). It highlights how much some of those bisses ‘cling’ to the rockface.

It’s not often I get the opportunity to take a photo of where I’m going to walk, but photo 1 shows where I was heading yesterday from ‘our’ side of the valley. The last photo was taken on the way back.

Finally, I was a very happy chappy throughout the walk, as the first thing that I saw as soon as I set off was the Clouded Yellow butterfly in pic 2, which was kind enough to land and have its photo taken. (Note that it could be a Pale or Berger’s Clouded Yellow, I didn’t get a good look at the upper side of the wings). Whatever, it was a joy to see so late in the year. 😊

Ancien Bisse du Ro, Valais, Switzerland

When I got back to the car park after my walk up Bella Lui, I thought I’d have a quick look at the Bisse du Ro. I wasn’t planning on doing the whole route, of 5 km (3 miles) there and 5 km (3 miles) back, but there was a sign at the start saying it was closed in 2 km (1.25 miles), so I thought I’d do what I could.

This of course meant that if I had been able to continue on my intended route over Bella Lui and down the path from the Col de l’Arpochey, I would have been stuck on the other side of whatever blockage there was. So it was a good job I did turn around when I did. 😊

As you will see, it’s not a route recommended for anyone with vertigo!

Bella Lui Walk, Rhone Valley, Switzerland

We had a small amount of rain on Monday night which left a layer of snow down to around 2,300m or 7,500ft. With this in mind I scoured the map for something new and south facing, as the snow may well have melted away. I settled upon a walk above Crans-Montana to Bella Lui (at 2,548m or 8,360ft), with the possibility of carrying on to a peak called Tubang (at 2,826m or 9,272ft), if the snow conditions allowed. I also noticed that there was a return path from the Col de l’Arpochey, which sits between the two peaks, that would take me down to the Bisse de Ro and back to the parking area.

The map also showed that there was a ladder somewhere between the peaks, which I assumed would be to go up, but it turned out to be to descend. As you will see from some of the pictures below, there was quite a lot of snow still around and it was when I reached that ladder (pics 23 & 24) that I turned around and retraced my steps. I’d also spotted quite a lot of snow on the steep descent path (pics 21 & 22). After having had one fall this week, I wasn’t planning on having another!

The initial path was also interesting in that my GPS route took me up a mountain biking track. It wasn’t clear where the walker’s path was, but I have to say, those mountain bikers are brave souls! I tried to take a video on my way back down to show you how difficult the terrain was, but it didn’t work out very well. I did however manage to get a video of two parascenders (also in pic 18) taking off – which is at the end of this post.

The rather swanky resort of Crans-Montana couldn’t be more different to our, rather humble, little village. I only walked passed about 5 chalets and 3 of them are featured below.

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.

Six Blanc and Mont Brûlé Walk, Val de Bagnes, Switzerland

It’s not often that I start the gallery with a panoramic photo, but there’s an impressive view of the Val de Bagnes from the parking area at La Côt. From there I set off to do a walk which runs along the ridge between that valley and the Val d’Entremont.

I first discovered this walk waaaay back in 2006, when I was a ‘novice’ walker in Switzerland and I thought I was being quite adventurous climbing Six Blanc (at 2,444m or 8,018ft) and Mont Brûlé (at 2,571m or 8,435ft). How times have changed!

You will also see that I have finished the gallery with a slightly more modern ‘WC’ than the one I posted in my Cabane de la Tsa walk last week. That photo created a lot of interest, so I thought I’d redress the balance, just in case you thought all Swiss toilets were like that. 😉 (And, yes, it is a public toilet, adjacent to the car park).

Val de Réchy Walk, Valais, Switzerland

This is another of my favourite walks, which I haven’t done this year, so I thought I’d give it a go before the winter sets in. The snow, which fell a few weeks ago now, has largely melted away, certainly on the south facing slopes, but I wasn’t sure what I’d find in the valley.

My mate Pete has been encouraging me to post some more videos, so yesterday I decided to take one as I approached the Pas de Lovegno and then another near the lake called Le Louché (not Lac de Lovegno as I incorrectly said on the video). You’ll find the videos below the usual gallery of photos and I hope you find them interesting.

As you will see the skies were blue, but there was definitely a chill in the air and I was a little surprised to see 4 butterflies, two of which I captured, but a blue one and an unidentified one escaped my lens.

Fafleralp Walk, Lötschental, Valais, Switzerland

When I bought my new point and shoot camera, I also bought a new case, because the old case and the belt strap were a little too big. But I then discovered that the belt strap on the new case didn’t fit my bumbag. So, I’ve been in the habit of swapping the cases around, depending on whether I’m using my bumbag or rucksack.

On my way out yesterday I picked up the new case, but hadn’t realised, until I zoomed in for the 2nd picture below, that I had my old camera with me. Doh! I thought, as the my old camera has a dark blotch towards the top right corner, which spoils perfectly blue skies. From then on, I had to keep turning the camera upside down (for any landscape photos including the sky) and press the shutter with my thumb. It was inconvenient, but not the end of the world of course.

On the (big) plus side, the old camera has a 30x zoom and it proved useful on several occasions, not least of which was to capture the Crossbill image, (pic 12). It was at the very top of a conifer tree and was a ‘first’ sighting for both Jude and me. In addition Jude spotted a Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture, but it was far too high to get a decent photograph (worth posting anyway).

As you will see, this walk, which is Swiss Walk no. 152 by the way, takes in 3 small lakes, all of which provided excellent photo opportunities. And you will notice not one, but two mountain huts; the Anenhütte and the Hollandiahütte, which sits, perched above the Löschenlücke.