Thursday, 2 March 2017

Sion - Dixence - Dam (Sion PS Part 2)

And a Total Lack of Asperity
Alan, our Isle of Wight Correspondent has just sent in an application to be appointed as our Switzerland correspondent. Of course his salary (currently £0) would need to be doubled and his expenses are set at a similarly generous level. The matter is currently with our HR department, but by way of introduction, Alan has submitted material for the next two blogs.

Apparently he was in Sion recently and went on a trip to Dixence.

Now the big trouble with photographs of mountains and their environs is that the size and magnificence is often not apparent. If everything is big, it doesn't look particularly massive unless there is an obvious frame of reference with which to make a comparison.

This is fbb's problem with the Grande Dixence Dam.
Even a view from ground level is not particularly impressive.
But in the lower centre of the picture above is a building ...
... which is NINE stories high. It is an hotel.
But even then, it is still hard to take in.

Le barrage de la Grande-Dixence est le plus haut barrage poids du monde, et le plus massif d'Europe. Situé dans le val des Dix sur la commune d'Hérémence en Valais, il mesure 285 mètres de haut. Il fait partie d'une vaste installation hydroélectrique nommée Cleuson Dixence ou Grande Dixence, d'une puissance de 2000 MW qui l'associe notamment au barrage de Cleuson.

Construit entre 1953 et 1961, à l'emplacement d'un verrou glaciaire, le barrage constitué de six millions de mètres-cubes de béton bloque le cours de la Dixence. Son lac d'accumulation, le lac des Dix, mesure 5 km de long.

Sur la même rivière, en amont, se situait le barrage de la Dixence, barrage voûte construit dans les années 1930.
Ce barrage a été noyé lors de la mise en eau du barrage de la Grande-Dixence et peut encore être aperçu lorsque le niveau du lac est bas.

In case, like fbb, you were wondering about the Boulder Dam (now named the Hoover Dam) in America ...
... don't wonder any more. It is only a puny 211 metres high.

One way to get from car park to the lake is by a long and arduous climb up a wiggly footpath ...
... but the wise and wealthy might choose to take the cable car.
This runs from a base station near the hotel to the walkway on the top of the dam.
A return trip costs 10 Swiss Francs (£8).
Correspondent Alan sends a snap of the lakeside walk, complete with many tunnels.
But the fun doesn't stop there as you can book tours of the internal workings of the Dam ...
... details of which are available on the Grande Dixense web site.
Guided tours, with sound and lighting effects, of the very heart of the highest gravity dam in the world take place every day, from mid-June to the end of September.

Groups assemble with a guide in front of the information centre at the foot of the dam.

11.30am, 1.30pm, 3pm, 4.30pm.
Duration approx. 1 hour
Capacity max. 40 people per tour
Adults (age 16 and over): CHF 10.00
Students, apprentices, pensioners: CHF 8.00
Children (age 6 to 15): CHF 6.00
Groups (10 or more, per person): CHF 8.00

There is also an information centre with a permanent exhibition. If that isn't enough, the Dam becomes a giant projector screen for light shows on special occasions.
Correspondent Alan and his Mrs visited the Dam a few years ago. The trip from Sion takes about an hour and the road becomes as wiggly as the footpath here pictured by Alan out of the window of the bus.
This was looking back down the valley towards Sion.

But, lest our readers are thinking of setting off right now, the Dam and its associated facilities remain closed from the end of September to early June. 

But it is Alan's trip to which we will turn tomorrow.

 Next Dixence blog : Friday 3rd March 

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