Autumn in the valley
Derborence is a hamlet in the municipality of Conthey, in the canton of Valais, in Switzerland. It is located at 1,450 metres in an isolated valley on the south side of the Bernese Alps and is not permanently inhabited. Derborence is completely surrounded by mountains: The Diablerets (highest) on the north, Haut de Cry on the south and Mont Gond on the east.
Lake Derborence was formed in 1749 after two landslides coming from the south wall of the Diablerets. Thousands of tons of rock came crashing down from a height of 1900 metres in 1714 and 1749, coming to 400 metres below and forming a 2 kilometre-long natural barrier which gradually filled with water. A virgin forest grew on the rock debris. It consists of spruce, pine, larch, stone pine, beech and willows. The area was acquired by Pro Natura in 1961 and is now protected.
The valley, which is exceptionnaly rich in fauna, is a natural habitat for ibex, chamois, deer, marmots and hares and several bird species including the owl, golden eagle, bearded vulture and alpine chough.
The Alps (French: Alpes; German: Alpen; Italian: Alpi; Romansh: Alps; Slovene: Alpe) is the name for one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east, through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west. The word "Alps" was taken via French from Latin Alpes (meaning "the Alps"), which may be influenced by the Latin words albus (white) or altus (high) or more likely a Latin rendering of a Celtic or Ligurian original.
The highest mountain in the Alps is Mont Blanc, at 4,808 metres (15,774 ft), on the Italian-French border. All the main peaks of the Alps can be found in the list of mountains of the Alps and list of Alpine peaks by prominence.
The Alps are generally divided into the Western Alps and the Eastern Alps. The division is along the line between Lake Constance and Lake Como, following the Rhine. The Western Alps are higher, but their central chain is shorter and curved; they are located in Italy, France and Switzerland. The Eastern Alps (main ridge system elongated and broad) belong to Austria, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Switzerland.
The Alps are a classic example of what happens when a temperate area at lower altitude gives way to higher elevation terrain. Elevations around the world which have cold climates similar to those found in polar areas have been called alpine. A rise from sea level into the upper regions of the atmosphere causes the temperature to decrease. The effect of mountain chains on prevailing winds is to carry warm air belonging to the lower region into an upper zone, where it expands in volume at the cost of a proportionate loss of heat, often accompanied by the precipitation of moisture in the form of snow or rain.