Walking in the Valais
120 Walks and Treks
By Kev Reynolds
Comprehensive guidebook to the Valais region, describing 111 day walks and 10 multi-day tours. Home to the Matterhorn and Dent Blanche, the routes are in the Fieschertal and the Aletsch glacier region, the Lötschental, Saastal, Mattertal, Turtmanntal, Val d'Anniviers, Val d'Herens, Val de Bagnes, Val Ferret and Vallée du Trient.
SeasonsValley walks should be possible between late May and late October, but for higher routes, late June until the middle of October would be the best time to go.
CentresZermatt, Saas Fee, Grächen, Zinal, Les Haudères, Arolla, Champex, Fiesch, Kippel and Blatten are just a few of the centres used for walking in the Valais.
DifficultyWalks are graded 1-3 for length and/or difficulty. Grade 1 is suitable for family outings; Grade 2 is moderate walking on good paths, but with the need to be well shod; Grade 3 routes are more strenuous and with some steep ascents and descents with which to contend. No special equipment is required.
Must SeeThe Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, The Dom, Zinalrothorn, Weisshorn, Ober Gabelhorn, Dent Blanche, Bietschhorn and the Grand Combin form a backdrop to the walks. Also featured, the Grosser Aletschgletscher is the longest icefield in the Alps, while magical valleys like the Lötschental. Saastal, Fieschertal, Val d'Anniviers, Hèrens and Bagnes have a wealth of walks on offer.
With the greatest collection of 4000m peaks in Western Europe and charming valleys and hillsides dotted with chalets and hay barns, the Valais represents the quintessential Alps.
This walkers’ paradise in southern Switzerland is located on both sides of the Rhône valley and includes the whole of the Pennine Alps, with France and Italy forming its southern and western borders. The region is crowned by iconic mountains including the Matterhorn, Dent Blanche, Monte Rosa and the Combin. It explores the deep valleys of the region including the Lötschental, Saastal, Mattertal, Val d’Anniviers, Val d’Hérens and Trient.
There are pristine snowfields and long glacier tongues, meadows full of flowers and marmots that will eat out of your hand. Accommodation is plentiful, ranging from simple mountain huts and back-country dormitories and campsites, to the grandest of hotels, and the integrated public transport system is world-renowned.
Routes wander from the popular Mattertal and Saastal valleys, to the quiet reaches of the Fieschertal and the picture-perfect Val d'Hèrens. A popular guidebook, this fourth edition continues to provide excellent routes for walkers of any ability – gentle valley strolls, walks of moderate difficulty and strenuous, steep routes from accessible and tourist-friendly bases such as Saas Fee, Zermatt and Arolla.
- 111 day walks described in full, arranged valley by valley, with other route suggestions
- 10 multi-day tours for longer trips
- detailed guidance on valley bases, mountain huts, access and facilities
The Valais region
Transport within the Valais
Notes for walkers
Using this guide
Grading of walks
Fieschertal and the Aletsch Glacier
Walk 1 Fieschertal – Burg Hut – Fieschertal
Walk 2 Fieschertal – Gletscherstube Märjela
Walk 3 Burg Hut – Gletscherstube Märjela
Walk 4 Fiescheralp – Gletscherstube Märjela
Walk 5 Gletscherstube Märjela – Aletschgletscher – Biel – Fiescheralp
Walk 6 Gletscherstube Märjela – Aletschgletscher – Riederfurka
Walk 7 Riederfurka – Aletschwald – Hängebrücke – Belalp
Walk 8 Ferden – Kummenalp – Fafleralp
Walk 9 Ferden – Kummenalp – Lötschenpass Hut
Walk 10 Lötschenpass Hut – Selden – Kandersteg
Walk 11 Fafleralp – Petersgrat – Kandersteg
Walk 12 Fafleralp – Krindeln
Walk 13 Fafleralp – Anen Hut – Fafleralp
Walk 14 Fafleralp – Blatten – Goppenstein
Walk 15 Ried – Bietschhorn Hut
Walk 16 Gspon – Kreuzboden
Walk 17 Kreuzboden – Weissmies Hut
Walk 18 Kreuzboden – Trift – Saas Grund
Walk 19 Kreuzboden – Almagelleralp – Saas Almagel
Walk 20 Saas Almagell – Almagelleralp – Almageller Hut
Walk 21 Saas Almagell – Saas Grund – Saas Balen
Walk 22 Saas Almagell – Furggalp – Saas Almagel
Walk 23 Saas Almagell – Furgtälli – Saas Almagel
Walk 24 Mattmark – Antrona Pass – Saas Almagel
Walk 25 Mattmark – Ofental – Mattmark
Walk 26 Mattmark – Monte Moro Pass – Mattmark
Walk 27 Saas Grund – Saas Fee (via Kapellenweg)
Walk 28 Saas Grund – Seng – Saas Fee
Walk 29 Saas Fee – Saas Almagell – Saas Fee
Walk 30 Saas Fee – Gletschergrotte – Spielboden
Walk 31 Saas Fee (Hannig) – Mischabel Hut
Walk 32 Saas Fee (Hannig) – Gletschersee – Saas Fee
Walk 33 Saas Fee (Felskinn) – Britannia Hut
Walk 34 Saas Fee (Plattjen) – Britannia Hut
Walk 35 Saas Fee (Plattjen) – Hannig
Walk 36 Jungen – St Niklaus
Walk 37 St Niklaus – Randa – Täsch – Zermatt
Walk 38 St Niklaus – Grächen
Walk 39 St Niklaus – Gasenried
Walk 40 Grächen – Hannigalp – Saas Fee
Walk 41 Grächen – Gasenried
Walk 42 Randa – Schaliberg – Randa
Walk 43 Täsch – Täschalp
Walk 44 Täschalp – Täsch Hut
Walk 45 Täschalp – Täsch
Walk 46 Zermatt (Sunnegga) – Täschalp – Täsch
Walk 47 Zermatt (Sunnegga) – Fluhalp – Findeln –Zermatt
Walk 48 Zermatt – Findeln – Eggen
Walk 49 Zermatt (Riffelberg) – Riffelsee – Zermatt
Walk 50 Zermatt (Rotenboden) – Monte Rosa Hut
Walk 51 Zermatt (Schwarzsee) – Hörnli Hut
Walk 52 Zermatt (Schwarzsee) – Stafelalp – Zermatt
Walk 53 Zermatt – Zmutt – Zum See – Blatten – Zermatt
Walk 54 Zermatt – Herbrigg – Hubel – Zmutt
Walk 55 Zermatt – Zmutt – Schönbiel Hut
Walk 56 Zermatt – Trift
Walk 57 Zermatt – Trift – Höhbalmen – Hubel – Zermatt
Walk 58 Zermatt – Höhbalmen – Zmutt – Zermatt
Walk 59 Zermatt – Höhbalmen – Schönbiel Hut
Walk 60 Zermatt – Trift – Rothorn Hut
Walk 61 Zermatt – Trift – Mettelhorn
Walk 62 Gruben – Chalte Berg
Walk 63 Gruben – Meidpass – Hotel Weisshorn
Walk 64 Gruben – Augstbordpass
Walk 65 Chandolin – Cabane d’Illhorn – Illhorn
Walk 66 St–Luc (Tignousa) – Bella Tola
Walk 67 St–Luc (Tignousa) – Meidpass – Gruben
Walk 68 St–Luc (Tignousa) – Hotel Weisshorn – Zinal
Walk 69 Zinal – Forcletta – Gruben
Walk 70 Zinal – Hotel Weisshorn – Ayer
Walk 71 Zinal – Cabane de Tracuit
Walk 72 Zinal – Roc de la Vache – Zinal
Walk 73 Zinal – Cabane d’Ar Pitetta
Walk 74 Zinal – Cabane du Grand Mountet
Walk 75 Zinal – Cabane du Petit Mountet
Walk 76 Zinal (Sorebois) – Cab. du Petit Mountet – Zinal
Walk 77 Grimentz (Moiry) – Col de Sorebois – Zinal
Walk 78 Grimentz (Parking du Glacier) – Cab. de Moiry
Walk 79 Grimentz (Barrage de Moiry) – Haut Tour du Lac
Walk 80 Grimentz (Barrage de Moiry) – Lac des Autannes
Walk 81 Grimentz (Moiry) – Sex de Marinda – Grimentz
Walk 82 Grimentz – Zinal
Walk 83 Les Haudères – La Sage
Walk 84 Les Haudères (Ferpècle) – Bricola
Walk 85 Les Haudères – Veisivi – Roc Vieux
Walk 86 Arolla – Lac Bleu – La Gouille
Walk 87 Arolla – Les Haudères – Evolène
Walk 88 Arolla – Cabane de la Tsa
Walk 89 Arolla – Plan de Bertol
Walk 90 Arolla – Pra Gra
Walk 91 Arolla – Cabane des Aiguilles Rouges – Arolla
Walk 92 Arolla – Pas de Chèvres
Walk 93 Arolla – Col de Riedmatten – Cabane des Dix
Walk 94 Le Chargeur – Cabane des Dix
Walk 95 Le Chargeur – Col de Riedmatten – Arolla
Walk 96 Le Chargeur – Cabane de Prafleuri – Le Chargeur
Val de Bagnes
Walk 97 Verbier – Clambin – Cabane du Mont Fort
Walk 98 Cabane du Mont Fort – Cab. de Louvie – Fionnay
Walk 99 Fionnay – Cabane de Panossière
Walk 100 Mauvoisin – Cabane de Chanrion
Walk 101 Praz de Fort – Plan Bagnet – Cabane d’Orny
Walk 102 Ferret – Grand Col Ferret
Walk 103 Ferret – Lacs de Fenêtre
Walk 104 Ferret – Champex
Walk 105 Champex – Sembrancher
Walk 106 Champex – Cabane d’Orny
Walk 107 Champex – Alp Bovine – Col de la Forclaz
Walk 108 Champex – Fenêtre d’Arpette – Col de la Forclaz
Vallée du Trient
Walk 109 Trient – Chalet du Glacier – Trient
Walk 110 Trient – Col de Balme – Croix de Fer
Walk 111 Trient – Ref. Les Grands – Col de Balme – Trient
Tour 1 Tour of the Upper Mattertal
Tour 2 Tour du Val d’Anniviers
Tour 3 Tour of the Weissmies
Tour 4 Tour of Monte Rosa
Tour 5 Grand Tour of Monte Rosa
Tour 6 Tour of the Matterhorn
Tour 7 Tour of the Val d’Hérens
Tour 8 Tour of the Dents du Midi
Tour 9 Chamonix to Zermatt: Walker’s Haute Route
Tour 10 Tour of Mont Blanc
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful addresses
Appendix C Bibliography
Appendix D Glossary
The Landeskarte der Schweiz (LS) series of maps that cover the Valais region are magnificent works of art. Open any sheet and a picture of the country immediately leaps from the paper – for by clever use of shading, contours and colouring, the line of ridges and rock faces, the flow of glaciers and streams, the curve of an amphitheatre, narrow cut of a valley, expanse of a lake, and the forest cover of a hillside all announce themselves with great clarity. They are a source of inspiration prior to setting out and a pleasure to use day by day.
At the head of each valley section in this book, a note is given in regard to the specific map recommended for use. In every instance the 1:50,000 series of Wanderkarten, produced in collaboration with the Swiss walking organisation the SAW (Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Wanderwege), has been chosen. Although more detail is presented on the 1:25,000 sheets, the Wanderkarten – distinguished by their orange covers and with the letter ‘T’ after their official number – should be adequate for most, if not all, the walks described. These maps are available in the UK from Stanfords in London (see Appendix A for the address) or locally in the Valais from bookshops or tourist offices.
The commercial publisher Kümmerly + Frey also covers the Valais with a series of 1:60,000 maps based on the LS sheets, and these are mostly available in local resorts. Their 1:120,000 sheet Wallis covers the entire canton and is a useful locator, with a number of major long walking routes outlined in red.
Some regional tourist authorities also produce their own Wanderkarten to show walking routes based on specific resorts or valleys, and these are on sale at the local tourist offices.
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Walk 46, page 141: Please note that the high route option via Ober Sattla has been officially closed and is no longer feasible. There is a path from Taschalp to Ober Sattla, but only as far as the viewpoint and no further.
Sept 2014Readers planning to visit the Monte Rosa Hut above Zermatt are advised that the route described as Walk 50 in the current (4th edition, published 2014) Valais guide has changed dramatically due to climate change and is no longer valid. The current route involves a steep descent onto the Gorner glacier by way of near-vertical ladders, followed by a glacier hike crossing numerous widening crevasses. Glacier recession and the collapse of moraines will inevitably mean further changes in the coming months and years. Unless adequately equipped and experienced in glacier travel, the Zermatt website (www.zermatt.ch) recommends walkers to undertake this route only with a mountain guide.
A number of websites have changed since this guide went to print.
For weather forecasts in Switzerland, the correct website is now:
For the Bureau des Guides in Anniviers, the current contact details are:
Tél +41(0)78 965 71 20 firstname.lastname@example.org http://valdanniviers.ch/tourisme/guides-accompagnateurs.html
For Hotel du Mauvoisin, the correct website is now:
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A lifelong passion for the countryside in general, and mountains in particular, drives Kev's desire to share his sense of wonder and delight in the natural world through his writing, photography and lecturing.
Claiming to be The Man with the World's Best Job, he has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Cicerone since the 1970s, producing over 50 books, including guides to five major trekking regions of Nepal, and to numerous routes in the European Alps and Pyrenees, as well as walking guides for Kent, Sussex and the Cotswolds.
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