Val d'Hérens

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Headwaters of the Borgne d'Arolla on the glacier below Mont Collon

The Val d'Hérens , in German Eringertal , is a side valley of the Rhone in the French-speaking part of the Swiss canton of Valais . It accompanies the mountain river Borgne, including its two source streams, over a length of about 30 kilometers north to its mouth at Sion , overcoming an altitude difference of almost 1,500 meters.

It is the valley of the former Hérens glacier, which retreated at the end of the last ice age at least 10,000 years ago.

Geography and landscape

Les Haudères, valley of the Borgne de Ferpècle and Dent Blanche
The pyramids of Euseigne; View down into the Rhône Valley and the Bernese Alps

Upper valley section

Two source streams of the Borgne drain various glaciers of the Valais Alps in the Swiss-Italian border area, which constitute the upper valley end.

The southeastern Borgne de Ferpècle (approx. 7 km long) rises from the Ferpècle Glacier and the Mont Miné Glacier at the base of Grand Cornier (3962 m), Dent Blanche (4357 m) and Dent d'Hérens (4171 m). As recently as the 19th century, these glaciers united to form a single stream, which almost reached into the scattered settlement Ferpècle (1786 m).

The southwestern Borgne d'Arolla (approx. 9 km) flows out of the Glacier d'Arolla around Mont Collon (3637 m) near the mountaineering village of Arolla (1998 m).

Both valleys are accessible through narrow mountain roads on exposed rocky slopes and through tunnels high above the watercourses through sparse pine and spruce forest just below the tree line.

Borgne de Ferpècle and Borgne d'Arolla and the two mountain roads unite on the southern edge of the resort of Les Haudères (1433 m) to form Borgne. This is where the Val d'Hérens begins in the strict sense. The through road runs in the valley floor. All places in the valley of the Borgne belong to the district of Hérens , which also includes the places of the side valley of the Dixence , which flows in from the southwest .

Middle section of the valley

The following locations are along the route down the valley:

  • The hiking and skiing resort Evolène (1371 m) is the main municipality of the valley with approx. 1500 inhabitants in the midst of alpine pastures and sparse coniferous forests between Sasseneire (3254 m), Pic d'Artsinol (2998 m) and Mont de l'Etoile ( 3372 m). The town's tourist landmarks are its individually designed wooden chalets with floral decorations.
  • The earth pyramids of Euseigne (970 m) are erosion phenomena of the former central moraine, which was cemented together under the pressure of the ice masses when the Hérens glacier retreated (“concrete moraine”). Their gradual erosion by wind and rainwater only came to a standstill in places where mighty gneiss blocks of up to 3 m in diameter and 20 tonnes in weight lay on top of the sediments. Due to the loss of the protective capstone ( chapeau protecteur ) and instability of the internal substance, geologists foresee the collapse of the pyramidal group within the next centuries.
  • To the north of Euseigne, the Borgne receives the Dixence , which flows in from the south-west and flows down the Val d'Hérémence from the Lac des Dix reservoir with its world's highest barrier (285 m) . There is also a cross connection to the main road through this side valley, which branches off 4 km below the Dixence estuary in Vex (939 m).
  • Saint-Martin , Mase , Vernamiège and Nax are the neighboring communities on the slopes east of the Borgne. There are cross-connections from the main route in the valley floor west of the Borgne north of Hérémence only through hiking trails. The road starts in Bramois in the Rhône Valley.

Lower valley section

Apricot plantations extend in the lower valley section of the Borgne up to its mouth at Sion (512 m). The road leads downwards in wide serpentines. There are views of the Rhône near Sion and Sierre , the mountain terrace of Crans-Montana and the Bernese Alps north of the Rhône Valley.

Tourism and sport

The highest mountain village of Arolla is the starting point for alpine glacier and hut hikes as well as climbing tours and summit ascents in summer. The resorts of Les Haudères and Evolène in the lower elevations are suitable for easier mountain hikes.

In winter, the Val d'Hérens is a center for downhill skiing and cross-country skiing. Snowboarding, ice curling, skating and ice climbing are also practiced.


  • Hiking map Val d'Anniviers , Val d'Hérens, Crans-Montana , 1: 60,000, Kümmerly + Frey, 2006
  • Baedeker Switzerland , 9th edition 2000, p. 495 ff.

Web links