The first stage of the Via Valais starts above Verbier, where fairly steep slopes mingle with flatter sections before reaching the Essertze hut.
Distance 29.6 km
Highest point2,921 m
Lowest point2,168 m
With a little over 1,100 metres of difference in altitude, this first 29 kilometer leg links Verbier to the Essertze hut. Start off along the calm water of the Bisse du Levron for several kilometres, before setting off on beautiful climbs. The route takes you to the Col Termin and, higher up, the Col de Louvie, offering impressive views of the Val de Bagnes and the Combins range. The path then descends towards the Grand Désert lake, allowing you to walk through a landscape dotted with rocks and home to many ibex. Return to flat ground along the Bisse de Chervé, which leads you to the Mont-Rouge overlooking the Cleuson dam. After a last descent, you’ll arrive at the Essertze hut, managed by Hérémencia ski club volunteers. The wide variety of terrain offered by this initial leg is a perfect preview of the diversity and quality of the entire route.
Be sure to carry enough food for the day. The only stop on the route is at Combatseline not far before reaching Cabane d’Essertze.
Use of the trails and the information on this website is at your 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.
For all trails:
Use marked trails only, and take note of all signposting – for both your own safety as well as that of grazing animals and to avoid disturbing wildlife.
Close gates after passing through.
Please treat other trail users, as well as the plants and animals, with respect.
For mountain trails:
Take extra care protecting yourself from the sun at high altitudes. UV radiation can be exceptionally strong, even in cloudy weather.
Plan your trail carefully: take the fitness level of each participant, weather forecast and season into consideration.
Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains, without warning. Appropriate clothing is therefore essential, along with adequate supplies of food and water. In case of uncertain weather conditions, turn back in good time.
Inform others of the route you plan to take. Whenever possible, avoid going alone.
Take note of warning signs indicating the constant danger in river beds and along watercourses below dams and reservoirs: water levels may rise rapidly without warning.
The start of the itinerary is at the top of the Ruinettes cable car coming from Verbier. Start by following the Bisse du Levron until the Col Termin. The path then climbs towards the Col de Louvie, then goes down to the Lac du Grand Désert through a lunar landscape composed mainly of rocks. Follow the old Bisse de Chervé overlooking the Cleuson dam heading for Mont-Rouge via Combatseline, before starting your final descent to the Essertze hut.
Bisse de Levron - Col Termin - Col de Louvie - Lac du Grand Désert - Ancien Bisse de Chervé - Combatseline - Mont-Rouge - Cabane d'Essertze
all notes on protected areas
Take the train to Martigny station, then to Le Châble. Take a first gondola lift between Le Châble and Verbier, then a second one from Verbier to Les Ruinettes in order to get to the start of the trail.
Take the A9/E62 motorway to Martigny, then continue on the Grand-Saint-Bernard/route 21 via Sembrancher to Le Châble.
It is advisable to use public transport however as this is a multi-leg route that ends in Zermatt.
240 free parking spaces are available at the Le Châble Aerial Cableway station for a maximum of 10 days.
32T 364941 5105638
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike
Book recommendation by the author
The tourist office in Verbier will provide information regarding trail running in the region.
Author’s map recommendations
SwissTopo Maps :
1:50’000 : 5003 Mont Blanc – Grand Combin
1:50’000 : 5006 Matterhorn – Mischabel
Weather-appropriate clothing: always carry a waterproof jacket