With the warmer weather arriving I’ve started running and biking again, and found a fantastic running route yesterday. The big challenge here is that most of the time you’re either going seriously uphill, or seriously downhill, so training at low-medium intensity becomes a challenge. However there are lots of irrigation channels (bisses) dug into (and in some cases tacked onto) the mountainside to bring snowmelt down to the fields and vineyards in the summer, and these are generally relatively level. So yesterday I followed the Bisse d’Ayent up to Les Rousses for what turned out to be an epic run. 18km and 600m vertical along the path which follows the bisse, right up to the chairlift which accesses the skiing at the back of Anzère.
The path along the bisse is very pretty, and laced with lots of tree roots so you have to keep focussed. After a while you get to a cliff face where somehow people have managed to attach a wooden channel to carry water around the cliff. This was built in the era of shovel and pick, and it’s amazing to see what people managed to do with the resources they had at the time. Very dangerous work!
There’s a very low tunnel through the rock which you can walk through to make it safely to the next section of the footpath, and it even has a series of timed lights you can switch on so as to get through it safely. Very Swiss.
Once through the tunnel you get to a stream without bridge, and yesterday due to all the snowmelt above, it was a raging torrent. Hard to cross, and I had to pick my way upstream to find suitable boulders to hop across on. After that it was an uphill slog up to Les Rousses, often having to cross large snow patches, plus lots of wild crocus pushing up along the paths.
At Les Rousses there’s still enough snow to ski all the way to the bottom of the chairlift no problem at all, and whilst I’d wanted to return by the high route across the mountain, there’s just too much snow at the moment, so I went back the way I’d come. All in all a fantastic run in amazing scenery. And the funny thing was the part of my body that hurt the most by the end was the muscles around my elbows! I’ve been so used to poling whilst ski mountaineering, running without poles meant my arms were fairly static, and the elbows really felt it by the end.
I’ll definitely do this again, and once the snow’s melted, take the higher route home. Also once the snow’s gone much higher up I’ll have a go at the Sionne – Cabane des Audannes – Les Rousses – home circuit with some buddies. It’s quite a long route, around 40 km and 1500m vertical, but good training for endurance races.