Spectacular high level trails in the northern portion of Switzerland's canton Valais offer spectacular views over the Pennine Alps and Europe's largest glacier, the Aletsch. The northern Valais receives little tourism other than from the Swiss themselves, who keep a number of these sunny, quiet valleys north of the Rhone for themselves.
From charming, chalet style inns that epitomize the simple pleasures of alpine culture, we explore the network of trails and secret valleys that cut into the southern side of the Bernese uplands. Along the way, we'll visit the resort village of Montana, the old spa town of Leukerbad, and the lesser known villages of Blatten, Bettmeralp, Belalp and Fiesch. In addition to many spectacular high level trails, some of which can be accessed by lift, we will walk along the flanks of the Aletsch glacier, a new World Heritage Site and learn about the beauty, dangers and environmental threats to these giant living relics of the last ice age.
Day 1 Travel by rail and bus to Leukerbad.
Day 2 We begin our day with a cable car ascent out of Leukerbad. Then we explore one of the numerous secret side valleys of the region before climbing to a pass with expansive views over the Rhone and a surprising view into the remote Lotschental. Overnight in a atmospheric chalet style inn in this valley known for its traditional culture and crafts. 9 miles with 1000 feet of ascent and 1650 feet of descent.
Day 3 From the picturesque village of Mund where saffron is harvested from the crocus, we contour through the wild Gredetschtal and climb to Nessel with its tiny, quaint chapel and Matterhorn view. We overnight at a simple but atmospheric inn perched above Europe¹s largest glacier, the Aletsch. 7 miles with 2900 feet of ascent.
Day 4 Today’s hike featurs an exciting adventure component. We’ll skirt the Aletschgletscher via a safe hanging bridge and enjoy the otherworldly environment of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschorn region that encompasses the distinctive Aletschgletscher was the first site in the Alps to carry the World Natural Heritage title. This is the day that we truly get up close and personal with one of the largest remaining relics of the Ice Age. Hike into Bettmeralp and our inviting country inn with spectacular views. 9 miles with 1000 feet of ascent and 2250 feet of descent.
Day 5 We will walk on a dramatic trail above the Aletschgletscher as we head toward the Konkordiaplatz, considered by many Swiss to be the snowy center of their alpine land. The Konkordiaplatz is the source of the Aletschgletscher and formes the junction of three large snowfields, the Aletschfirn, the Jungfraufirn, and the Ewigschneefäld. We’ll view the snow from a distance and hike into a remote and cozy berghaus that clings dramatically above the Fiescher glacier. Our little berghaus offers a truly authentic Swiss alpine experience. 9 miles with 1250 feet ascent and 1100 feet of descent.
Day 6 A pleasant route down the Fieschertal leaves behind the icy world of glaciers, enters larch forest and links the tiny hamlets of Egga and Ried. Overnight in an authentic small inn with inspired regional cuisine in the bustling small village of Fiesch. 7 miles with 2700 feet of descent.
Day 7 Depart. An afternoon flight can be comfortably met in Geneva or a flight in Zurich after 1 p.m.