Barrage de la Grande Dixence (2,163)


col de la cayolle cycling


The ride to the Barrage de la Grande Dixence from Vex is an extraordinary adventure through the heart of the Swiss Alps, culminating at one of the most impressive feats of engineering nestled amidst breathtaking natural beauty. The ride to this colossal dam is not just a Deux Mille climb; it’s an ascent into a landscape where human ingenuity and natural splendor exist in stunning harmony.

Starting from the quaint village of Vex, the route to the Barrage de la Grande Dixence winds through the Val d’Hérens, offering cyclists a gradual climb surrounded by the idyllic Swiss countryside. Meadows, traditional wooden Swiss chalets, and the ever-present backdrop of snow-capped peaks accompany riders on their journey upwards. The road, though challenging, rewards cyclists with increasingly dramatic views as they ascend deeper into the Alps.

The highlight of this ascent is undoubtedly the Barrage de la Grande Dixence itself. Standing as the tallest gravity dam in the world, its sheer scale is awe-inspiring. The dam stretches across the Dixence Valley, holding back the Lac des Dix, an expansive reservoir that gathers water from the surrounding glaciers. The sight of the dam, a colossal structure set against the rugged Alpine landscape, is a testament to the ambitious spirit of human engineering.

The dam not only serves a practical purpose in hydroelectric power generation but has also become a destination for visitors drawn to its architectural grandeur and the panoramic views it offers. Cyclists and hikers can explore the area around the dam, including a visitor center that delves into the history and technical aspects of this engineering marvel.

Approaching the Barrage de la Grande Dixence from Vex, cyclists are treated to a route that encapsulates the beauty of cycling in Switzerland—challenging climbs, serene natural landscapes, and the reward of reaching a destination that is both a monumental human achievement and a gateway to unparalleled alpine vistas. It’s a ride that offers not just physical exertion but also the opportunity to marvel at what can be accomplished when humanity works in tandem with the natural world.