Day One - Simplon Pass | Day Two - Planetenweg - Zinal | Day Three - Illsee-Parilet | Day Four & Five - Becs de Besson/Val d'Herens | Day Six & Seven - Crans MontanaEsagagu Flade.
For Day two we were joined by two riders from Singapore representing SingaporeMTB
- Shafudin Jaya and Mus Ismadi. Singapore is basically at sea level with their highest mountain (Bukit Timah) coming in at 164m so they were suitably impressed by the Valais mountains towering an additional 2 vertical kms above the valley floor. Their stoke level was high and infectious.
Samuel Noodlez Hubschmid also joined us, taking a break from his work and passion helping to legitimize mountain biking in Switzerland and building bike communities via Trailnet.ch
. We picked up the Singaporeans after they travelled from Zurich Airport to Visp in Martin's big Alpine-trails
van with bike trailer which can accommodate large groups of riders. We got to admire Martin's skill at driving a long vehicle in alarmingly tight spaces through charming Swiss villages as we made our way half an hours' drive west from Visp in the Central Valais to St Luc in the Val D'Anniviers area.
A little snippet about the Val d'Anniviers
region is worthwhile. The main Valaisian valley where major towns such as Visp, Brig, Sierre and Sion are located runs west-east. Anniviers is one of seven side-valleys in this region all of which are distinctive culturally and historically. The lower head of the valley is the somewhat industrial and busy transportation hub town of Sierre at an elevation of about 600m. The head of the valley is the climbers/alpinists town of Grimentz (1553m). Side valleys split into Val de Moiry and Zinaltal, where picturesque villages and farms hearken back to agricultural pasts but converted B&B's and hotels speak to tourism present. However, the dominating feature of Val d'Anniviers are the surrounding peaks reaching heights of 3 to 4,000m and the multiple ski-lifts and access roads that service them. It's these lifts and roads we use to get to the trails.
Our first climb up the FuniculaireLee discovers ultimate cheese bread aka Käseschnitte aka Croute au fromage natureView of mountains from Tignousa at the top of the Funiculaire. Uranus is my favourite mountain in the range of course
This day was just a half day for us as bikes belonging to other guests still had to be built and luggage unpacked. After setting off at just after noon the first part of the ride involved a short climb to the St.Luc - Chandolin Funiculaire which takes us 550m up towards the alpine at Tignousa. One of the favourite parts of our Swiss experiences are restaurants and Alprestaurant Tignousa
is no exception. In Valais though we get the full cultural experience of ordering food in French, Swiss-German and Italian too if we wish. Basically this is a typical Swiss start to many of Alpine-Trails' rides. A bus or chair-lift assist to the start of the ride Possible restaurant breaks. Then much much more downhill than uphill!
After the lunch time break we then rode up ski hill gravel road and access trails up a gentle gradient from Tignousa at 2180m to the Hotel Weisshorn Planetenweg/Chemin des Planetes
junction at 2337m where the real ride starts
The climb to the Weisshorn at 2337m. There are two riders on the roadPlaying around on trails just before dropping down to the Planetenweg
The Planetenweg trail is a traverse of the SE side of Val d'Anniviers
along alpine trails bordering the ski hill runs. Because it is in the alpine it offers views and straightforward navigation. It's a basic trail with many landmarks and side-features that tell the stories of the 9 planets (including Uranus!). It's a popular hiking trail but in the fall season there were basically no people around and we did not encounter traffic other than the odd animal.
At the end of trail we descended from the high alpine to valley floor at Zinal. We also managed to practise Euro hop turns (watch the end of the video - it's deadly boring I promise you). There are also goats on the end of the trail just before we get to the paved road and Shafudin manages to endo on goat scheisse (another Swiss cultural experience!!) and crack the chainstay on his carbon Trek. Fortunately we find some nice rebar from a friendly unguarded Val d'Annivers construction site. Some duct-tape, many zip ties and some cautious rolling down the road later we're coasting back to the town of Vissoie (1202m) from where we take a bus 400m back up the road to St Luc/Chandolin to our magnificent accommodations at Hotel Bella Tolla
Hotel Weisshorn view at 2337m on Planetenweg - named for the models of the 9 planets and the sun that lines the Weg.We start the traverse on Planetenweg. Up on the skyline is the Zinal GlacierContinuing on the Planetenweg traverse with a view looking down Val D'Anniviers. In the valley below is the town of SierreMost of the traverse is not technical but scenic with the exception of the S end of the line where there is some technical rocky chunk. Rather typical for Swiss hiking trails/wanderwegsWe are allowed to pass by the Chue sentinals guiding the wegs, paying homage to the scheisse that stuck to our tires. All hail chue flade, merda de la muca, muti e lopas, merde de vache, kráva hovnoThe trail to valley floor is excitingly fast and a brake burner.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Hotel Bella Tola, a Swiss historic hotel
. This establishment somehow managed to combine understated style with homeyness. The staff were incredibly friendly, the food exquisite. Basically it's a great place to stay in this astoundingly beautiful part of Switzerland. See their reviews at Trip Advisor.
The spa at Bella Tola. This hotel has been run by Anne (a hometown girl from Chippis) and Claude for 18 years. They truly take pride in this Historic hotel making everyone feel at home
.Mathilde and Michaele wear traditional dress providing fantastic customer service. Stylish, classy rooms at the Bella Tola
Today's stats - 25km, 4hrs, 420climb, 1410m Descent
We wish to thank Tourism Switzerland, Valais Tourism, Brig Simplon Tourism, Sierre Anniviers, and Crans Montana for their support.
The wonderful Swiss Maps that put ours to shame
Mountain Biking Switzerland - Graubunden and Zermatt (5 parts on pinkbike)
Mountain Biking Switzerland - Grindlewald/Jungfrau and the Eastern Valais (4 parts on Pinkbike)
SBB - Swiss Transit System
Alpine-Trails - recommended guides
Swiss topo maps
General tips and tricks
Edelweiss Air - (direct from Vancouver and many other west coast cities to Zurich)Part OneKeep a look out for part three, coming next Sunday.
MENTIONS: @leelau @Alpine-Trails-Switzerland