Sex des Granges is my last hike in Europe before returning to Australia, and my father (who lives in Geneva) has picked a mountain peak that he hasn’t done before. Sex des Granges is located near the town of Salvan in the district of Saint-Maurice, which is in the canton of Valais. (The peak was officially renamed to Sé des Granges in 2019, and it’s elevation reduced from 2,082m above sea level to 2,081m.) Starting from Salvan, the track ascends past Les Marécottes and up to Les Granges, where the Gorges du Dailley (Dailley Gorge) begins.
Passing through pine forest, the wooden footpath soon enters the narrow gorge. It ascends, often very steeply, via footbridges, tunnels and steep flights of steps.
It’s a spectacular route, as the path follows the Salanfe river up the gorge – although it would be even more stunning with the river at full flow (the photo below right was taken the previous year).
As the path ascends, you would normally start getting a view of the alps; today there is almost no visibility through the thick cloud.
At the top of the gorge the path reaches Van d’en Bas, where it crosses the Route de Van. It then ascends again through pine forest from the Col de la Matze. I discover much later that the term matze (from the Italian “mazza” meaning club) refers to a wooden figure or effigy that was used as a sign of ostracism in the Valais canton until the 16th century. Villagers were encouraged to stick a nail in the effigy if they wished to punish the person designated by the matze. If enough nails were stuck in it, people would gather in front of the person’s house to chase them away, confiscate their property, and divide their belongings.
The path continues to ascend fairly gently through the forest, with no signs of the low cloud going away…
…until just above the tree line, we emerge above the sea of cloud that has completely filled the valley below us! It’s quite heartening to know that we haven’t walked all this way to then get no view from the peak.
The route now traverses a scree slope; behind us are the Dent de Morcles and below us – and impossible to see through the cloud – is Martigny and Salvan.
The sometimes indistinct track is marked by paint on the rocks, as is ascends (sometimes with the aid of chains) to the peak.
A last scramble and we’re at the Sex des Granges summit, with the Dent du Salantin (a mountain in the Chablais Alps) to the north.
The Dent de Morcles (or Teeth of Morcles), a 2,969m high mountain located at the western end of the Bernese Alps which overlooks the Rhone between Martigny and St. Maurice, rises above the clouds to the north-east.
Mont Blanc (4,808m) and the nearby Dôme du Goûter (4,304m) are 35km away to the south-west.
To the south-east are the Grand Combin (4,314m) and Mont Vélan (3,727m) in the western Pennine Alps. The photo on the right (source: hikr.org) shows the view of Martigny, lying hidden beneath us today.
We’re continuing over the peak and returning via La Creusaz, to form a circuit.
The track down is initially steep, with a few chains again to help with the descent.
Just before La Creusaz is a junction with a track that goes up to and over the Col de la Gollete and onto Lac de Salanfe.
From here the track descends back through tall forest, following the Chemin des Messieurs to meet the Route des Granges, just above our starting point.
When to hike Sex des Granges
The hiking season (when the track is relatively free of snow) is from about May/June to October.
Accommodation near Sex des Granges
It’s about a 1:45min drive from Geneva, where I was staying, which makes it feasible to drive to Salvan and back in a day. There are many other alpine trails you can do in the area, which could be explored as day-walks from Saint-Maurice or the larger town of Martigny. Both have a range of hotels and guesthouses.