The dramatic Massa gorge is a gift of the Aletsch Glacier. Ice carved the canyon long ago; later, meltwater polished its rocks. Today, the glacier is invisible from inside the gorge – yet the river of ice remains the mightiest in the Alps. 23 km long and containing 27 billion tons of ice, the glacier forms the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of “Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch”, just to the north.
The vertiginous gorge is the highlight of this thrilling hike, which follows the route of a former irrigation channel, the Riederi. First mentioned in historical documents in 1385, it was built to carry glacial meltwater to the fields around Ried-Mörel. The Riederi is no longer in use, but the trail that follows its course – recently blasted out of the rock of the canyon – makes for a spectacular hike. You’ll need a good head for heights!
The hike begins at Blatten, with a climb through forest to reach the Gibidum bridge. Once across the Massa river, the trail turns sharply southwards: first following the course of the gorge downstream, then turning north-west up the valley of the Rhône. Here, the path traverses woodland and pastures to reach the village of Ried-Mörel. The latter stage of the walk reveals sweeping views up and down the Rhône valley.
The route along the former irrigation channel is now a theme trail devoted to water. The ancient methods used to carry water across the landscapes of Valais are similar to those still used in Nepal. Info panels (in French and German) reveal the similarities between the two traditions, show the extraordinary efforts made to create and maintain the networks – and explore the customs and myths linked to them.
Use of the trails and the information on this website is at hikers’ own risk. Local conditions may entail changes to routes. Valais/Wallis Promotion accepts no liability for the accuracy and completeness of information on this website.
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