Story of the catastrophe

(Bull. Murithienne, Ignace Marietan, 1960)


On Sunday 23rd September 1714, between 2 and 3 pm, the western part of the Diablerets collapsed on the Alpe de Fricaut and also on two thirds of the Alpe de Zeveillie ( cheville), where 140 cows would normally graze for eleven weeks.

In the centre of this landslide, blocks formed piles of over 300 poles high.

Four torrents: the Pissot that exits the glaciers (Tchiffa), the Lizerne that runs east, the Zeveillance that comes from the Alpe de Zeveillie (Cheville) and the Derborence that takes its source on the Alpe de Darbon (Derbon) had their current stopped or modified.

The landslide killed 15 people, male and female of all ages. Only one body, that of the sister of M. du Four, priest of Vétroz, was found. The others were so deeply buried under the stones that there was no hope of ever discovering them. Over 100 head of cattle were missing, the number of sheep, goat and pigs was incalculable. At the time of the cataclysm, the sky suddenly became dark; the day was changed into night. The dust in the air was so thick and spread to the neighbouring pastures to the point that the livestock had to be moved. In this unprecedented calamity, the goodness of God saved a few people from a violent death so that they could testify to His holy justice and His infinite mercy.”  


The collapsing of the lower part of the Diablerets wall in 1714 destabilized the peak of the Tête de Barme. Thirty-five years later, on 23rd June 1749, one of the two edges (Le Derochoir) finally collapsed. The gigantic scree formed by these two catastrophes has a length of about 5 kilometres and, according to geological estimates, the volume is close to 50 million square meters.
The Derborence Lake formed during the second landslide and became the youngest natural lake in Europe.
The novel “Derborence” by C.F. Ramuz and the film directed by R.Reusser greatly contributed to the reputation of the valley.
Extract from “Derborence” by C.F. Ramuz

Derborence, le mot chante triste et doux dans la tête pendant qu’on se penche sur le vide, où il n’y a plus rien, et on voit qu’il n’y a plus rien.
C’est l’hiver au-dessous de vous, c’est la morte-saison tout le long de l’année. Et si loin que le regard porte, il n’y a plus que des pierres et des pierres et toujours des pierres. Depuis deux cents ans à peu près...  C. F. Ramuz - Derborence


The Derborence valley is unquestionably a place to visit. You will find more useful information on our partner website:


Derborence – Roman de C.-F. Ramuz / Editions Grasset Paris
Derborence et la Vallée de la Lizerne – Th. Kuonen / Editions Monographic, Sierre
La Salamandre, la revue des esprits curieux de nature – Revue no 156 / 2003
Bulletin de La Murithienne – Ignace Mariétan, 1960 / Médiathèque Valais Sion
Des Coteaux du Soleil à Derborence – Roger Fellay, Ardon / Photos G. Laurent