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Taking on the challenge together: On a ski tour in the Valais region

Photo: View from the Allalinhorn in Valais, Switzerland
Feb 10, 2021

When the alarm goes off at 4 a.m., there is the temptation for a tiny moment to hit Snooze again. But of course the eagerness prevails and around 5 a.m. we leave the Britanniahütte. 

Our group is now freshly strengthened and tiredness has long since been driven away by an ambitious goal: to reach our first 4,000-meter summit on skis together. We are well prepared and properly packed – in addition to our touring skis, we carry climbing helmets, crampons, ropes and ice ax with us. We take everything you need to get safely to an altitude of 4,190 meters covered in snow. 

Our goal: to reach our first 4,000-meter summit on skis together.

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Strahlhorn (4,190m) and Rimpfischhorn (4,198m) from the Britanniahütte

The view from the Strahlhorn plus the final descent towards Zermatt will mark the preliminary highlight of my ski touring experience in a few hours. And I am already feeling that there will be many more ski tours in the Valais region in the future.

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Ready for Challenge: today's goal - Strahlhorn (4,190m)

A feat of strength that is rewarded - our first 4,000-meter summit on skis

After we left the hut behind us, we first move over the "football field", as this first part of the trail with its still quite mild slope is called by many. Progress is still very pleasant here, but you should nonetheless stay alert due to the regular avalanche danger. Then it quickly becomes more demanding and it takes a lot of stamina with multiple climbing actions to work our way up to the Adlerpass.

I was immediately fascinated by this summit!

After all, it was worth taking all the equipment with us, the weight of which we have become used to in the meantime. And anyway, all the troubles are completely forgotten for a moment. Even the aching feet that became a bit bloody from the demanding last days before we left for this adventure.

That`s because the view you enjoy from here - 3,800 meters above sea level on the pass between Rimpfischhorn and Strahlhorn - is simply epic. Suddenly the entire Valais landscape opens up and you can look directly at the Matterhorn. For a moment I think back to my first visit to Zermatt. I was immediately fascinated by this summit - it was love at first sight. And it is an incredible feeling to see the Matterhorn so close in front of me, with all the glaciers around. Only now do I notice that I actually have some tears in my eyes. One of my greatest dreams suddenly came true.

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Iconic Matterhorn at sunset

A little later we gather all our power to continue on the path. Only a few more steps and we would be standing for the first time with skis under our feet at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters. And that much is clear: Also the subsequent freeride back to the hut was an experience that really was something (big time!). So save your strength so that you can experience this exciting descent.

Challenging & full of discoveries - skiing in the Valais region

A few years have now passed and the Valais region around Zermatt has become my favorite place in the Alps. For skiing and ski touring - but also for hiking, because the mountains here are equally impressive in summer and the feeling up there surrounded by the numerous glaciers is simply unbelievable. 

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On the way from Arolla to the Cheilon Glacier

In general, Zermatt is a great ski resort: around 360 kilometers of slopes (including 38 kilometers of freeride and 27 kilometers of black slopes), around 50 ski lifts that connect Italy and Switzerland, and the altitude differences of up to 2,375 meters. One personal tip: if you want to end the day in a really nice atmosphere, you just take the Gornergrat Bahn up to a good 3,000 meters and simply enjoy the unique sunset over the Matterhorn.

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On the way from Arolla to Cabane de Bertol

The best ski tour in the Valais region ...

... starts on the Klein Matterhorn. You can make it a little bit easier and get there by lift, then you ski over the glacier plateau along the Breithorn ridge to the Schwarztor Pass. Once you have made it there, you can expect an amazing powder run from almost 3,800 meters. It descends by around 1,500 meters to the bottom of the glacier – a demanding run requiring full concentration but is incredibly fun. Then you have the choice: are you going to keep on to the Monte Rosa hut to experience another adventure from there? Or do you go further down to that notorious couloir that brings several glaciers together and that you can ski through to Zermatt? You've almost certainly heard of it and seen videos of it. But seeing that live is truly awesome – guaranteed! A must run for every ambitious freerider.

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Mighty Liskamm

Do you want even more challenge? - Heliskiing in Zermatt

I usually prefer ski touring as, besides the sporting challenge, I love exploring new places and the pure silence of the mountains. Despite all this, it certainly has its appeal to stand on a 4,000-meter peak with completely fresh muscles and start a demanding run full of energy. 

This is where heliskiing clearly comes into play: You can reach a total of five different descend points by helicopter from Zermatt, the highest of which is a point below the Dufourspitze at around 4,200 meters above sea level. In general, a mountain guide is required for a group of a maximum of four people when heliskiing in Zermatt. Without it, you'd lose your bearings way too quickly. Because the way down leads on winding paths over several glaciers with a total of 20 kilometers (!) descent. And yes, at the end of the glacier there is of course a steep couloir waiting for you.

So add a new item to your bucket list of amazing ski adventures. After that, you can be proud of yourself. And you can fully enjoy a relaxed evening with good food in Zermatt afterwards.

Your next vacation destination: Valais region

Are you now tempted to book your next trip to the Valais region? I cannot but recommend it and look forward to your personal experiences. Feel free to contact us with your impressions and insights - simply send an email to scouts@skimondo.com

To find the ideal destination for you, take a look straight at our ski resort finder and explore all essential details about the 20 ski resorts in the Valais region.

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