On the west coast of Canada it's rained steadily for almost 4 weeks straight now. The alpine riding season seems so long away, but thoughts are already turning to biking in the Alps as emails and Crackbook messages hit the inbox bearing tidings of sweet singletrack. As related in our 6 part epic about Switzerland for Dummies published last year
there's ways to go self-guided, but it would be remiss if we didn't also mention that those who don't have a lot of time and would rather maximize their fun and riding also can hire guides.
This might raise some controversy but I cannot speak to guiding companies that I do not know so I am only mentioning these two below. They are both top-notch, deliver consistently superior service and are extremely knowledgeable.
- Swiss Alpine Adventures (Dave O'Riordan)
- Big Mountain Bike Adventures (Chris Winter)
If you have experience with other guiding companies mention them in the comments as it would be good to have knowledge of other fantastic places to ride in the Alps not just for our selfish purposes. but also for the benefit of others.
Ludo May using Mt Blanc as a backdrop. Verbier.
Another fine video by Tom Malecha profiles Swiss trails - embedded with permissionFrom Bern
Aletscharena in the canton of Valais from the Riederalp/Bettmeralp side
Following up on the proposed trail biking laws
that we wrote about which would have criminalized the act of riding singletrack, Samuel Hubschmid reports that it looks very favourable. Comments on the proposed law have closed, but the local bike advocacy group Trailnet
received thousands of comments on this topic (many from out-of-country!!). These were presented to the Cantonal government. The final decision on the law will be made in November.
Between Obwalden and the Bernese Oberland
Of the resorts with which we're familiar the Flims/Laax
resort seems the furthest along with its trails.
Lifts are only operating on the weekend so far. The Runca Trail in particular is currently open on weekends until July 8, 2012, due to reconstruction. For that reason only parts of the trail are available. Some higher area trails are still partly covered in old snow so you will have to push.
All the other trails and resort stations (Pumptrack and Skills area at Rocksresort, Pau la Selva, Never-end Trail etc are open as always from July to October - but check here for more information and updates
For videos check the Trailfox
channel or the Flims/Laax
Work on the Runca Trail
Work on the Runca Trail
reports that its bike park and skill centre are open and in full swing. The Rothorn cable car goes higher and top areas of the trails still have some snow (not unexpected at 2800m or so). The Piz Scalottas side is clear of snow in the first part with some snow lurking in top sections in the Tgantieni-Scalottas sections.
Service for all lifts and cars are not in full summer service (ie extended hours and all days) until June 9 for lifts on the W side of the valley and 23rd June on the E side of the valley so it would be prudent to check lift operations and times until those days
There doesn't seem to be anything new in the resort other than some opportunities to be photographed and a new Enduro event (the TrailTrophy) of which the 2nd leg will be at Lenzerheide in September
. The (Shoot Your Ride
program) will be more inclusive and allow anyone to have their photos taken. As always, the Bike Attack course, the AM riding opportunities through the Bike TIcket to Ride
package of transport and lift tickets should whet the appetite.
Davos - KlostersDavos Klosters
Dropping down to Lenzerheide Dorf
's lower trails are already in operation. The Gotschna Freeride piste (modelled on A-Line) opens with the Gotschna mountain railway on June 30, 2012. The Bike Park Färich which is at lower elevations in Davos Dorf is now open (it opened on June 2, 2012). Of course, conditions are still pretty snowy at higher levels including the Jakobshorn, Parsenn, and higher Gotschna lifts so with a bit of patience you will have high alpine access.
Parsenn and Gotschna mountain railway had to postpone the start of the summer season. They will both start on 30 June, 2012.
Davos will hold a 24 hour racing event
on June 23 -24 and that will bring out the spandex crowd as will a leg of the BMC Junior Racing Cup series
in July 14. . On the July 22-23rd, the Swiss Bike Masters
competition will be held with races for Freeride (racing Parsenn!), xc and marathon. August 24 brings the annual Grischa trail ride
which will take in trails in the area from Lenzerheide to Arosa and Davos/Klosters.
Conditions updates are available hereEngadin/ St-Moritz
valley had a late season snow dump and that put them behind a bit. Generally, the trails are open. But at some points there is still al lot of snow especially on the northfaces (do you see a trend here). You should therefore assume that trails with are south-facing are the best call at this point which fortunately includes the wonderful flowtrails of the Corviglia and trails from Bernina (at least the Morteratsch station) to Pontresina and lower. The tourism people had no updates that they could tell me about whether the higher points of the Suvretta Loop had snow. Given that a good chunk of the benchcut trail from Marguns to Murezzan and then to Suvretta are NW facing expect to walk a bit if you go that way and maybe bring socks if you want dry feet for the pedal back from Spinas!
Engadin's a bit light on the bike events but makes up for it with a banger event on the 25th of August with a XC Radmarathon race
scheduled for a pretty astounding scenic routes through and round te Swiss National Park and the Italian Stelvio side!
Even though the Engadin is not necessarily freeride or downhill heaven it probably has the best singletrack of any of the Graubunden resorts in the Corviglia trails (which are S facing and dry quickest) as well as simply spectacular scenery via the Rhatischebahn.. To check on conditions go here
Last, but not least is Zermatt
. Predictably not all the upper bike trails are open especially the Gornergrat and Rothorn which still have snow. Conveniently there is a webcam
where you can see that the snowline is just above the Sunnega at 2300m. The Sunnega freeride trail
is accordingly snow free but has had no major changes from last year and is still definitely the lone child in a sea of AM/enduro trails. Perhaps in a couple of weeks you might be able to roll through dirt and not snow at higher elevations.
Biking is by no means a major activity in Zermatt (it is one of the busiest Swiss resorts year - round so that's not too big a surprise) so there are no major bike events planned for the Zermatt area. Obviously that should not dissuade you from an area which has some of the best weather in Switzerland during the summer months.
Simmons and Hunter on the Gornergrat