The footpaths of Switzerland’s mountain regions are highways to an Alpine wonderland. Along them the fit and healthy, young and old, can become absorbed by a world of infinite beauty that may only be imagined by those who remain road-bound. The 8000km network of paths in the Valais leads to some of the very best that this extravagantly picturesque country can boast.
The Valais region is home to some of the most dramatic mountains in Europe; The Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, Zinalrothorn, Ober Gabelhorn, Dent Blanche, Weisshorn, Bietschhorn and Grand Combin – just to name a few. In this guidebook they form a backdrop to a series of routes that should answer the dreams of any keen mountain walker. Walking in the Valais describes 120 routes for walks and treks that represent the very best of this magical region. It is intended for use by casual walkers who may never have visited the Alps before, as well as by the more experienced mountain wanderer aiming for the snowline. There’s something in the Valais to suit everyone, and each level – from valley bed to mountain summit – has its own very special charm.
The range of walks in this guidebook have been chosen so that there are a sufficient number of routes on offer to enable most walkers to enjoy a good day out at a level to suit their particular ability and ambition. The walks fall into three grade categories, from 1 to 3, with the highest grade given to the more challenging routes. This grading system is purely subjective, but is offered to provide a rough idea of what to expect. There are moderate walks (Grade 1) that would appeal to most active members of the family, while the majority of routes are graded 2 or 3, largely as a result of the very nature of the landscape which can be very challenging.
All the routes have been chosen with a particular viewpoint, lake, alp hamlet, hut or pass as the goal, while the principal objective of each walk is to enjoy a day’s exercise amongst some of Europe’s most visually exciting scenery. But to gain the most from an active holiday in the Valais one needs to be in a reasonably good physical condition on arrival.
The layout of this guidebook follows an east to west convention, beginning on the north side of the Rhône valley and describing routes from Bettmeralp and the Lötschental, then moving to the Pennine Alps south of the Rhöne. The most easterly valley to be described here is the Saastal, after which the guidebook moves west into the Matteral before visiting the Turtmanntal, Val d’Anniviers and so forth.
June to September should be mainly clear of snow, and most of the mountain huts will be open.
Good centres are Bettmeralp, Kippel, Saas Grund, Almagel and Saas Fee, St Nicklaus, Zermatt, Gruben-Meiden, Zinal, Grimentz, Evolene, Arolla, Haute Nendaz and Siviez, Verbier, Trient and Champex are all good bases within the Valais region.
Routes of all levels of difficulty, from short easy valley strolls to demanding and exhilarating mountain traverses.
Traditional wooden houses and barns of the Val d'Hérens, the soaring peaks of the Matterhorn and Dent Blanche, secluded glens in the Saastal, Swiss mountain huts, cheese and chocolate!