Switzerland Mountain Biking: Part Three - Illsee-Parilet

Feb 12, 2015 at 16:19
by Lee Lau  

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 Montana

Töggelichaschte - On our third day in the Valais in Switzerland we are again riding with Martin Buetler of Alpine-Trails and are well rested having had a half day from our scenic tour of the Val d'Anniviers from the day before. Beautiful cool fall weather greets us as we start another ride by doing a bit of road riding through the heart of the ski area of St-Luc/Chandolin. This is the biggest ski area in the Val d'Anniviers region and has approximately 60km of piste runs. Summer activities such as hiking, road-riding and increasingly mountain-biking are also popular in this valley and the local businesses seem to be exceedingly receptive and welcoming of two-wheels.

We then take another St. Luc/Chandolin chairlift assist (the Rotse) approximately 610m up to the alpine at 2550m. This then starts us with a pleasant gradual climb about 200m up to Illsee pass on nice climbing singletrack. This is followed by the typically Swiss Prince of Persia rocky tech mandatory hop-turn downhill (play the game, you'll see where it got its name to a lake formed by a hydro dam.) The only thing missing is an early morning coffee break and a Swiss alprestaurant at the hydro dam. Fortunately to complete the stereotype there are the usual stunning views; this time looking North towards the Crans Montana area, Jeizinen (which we visited in 2012), and the Leuk area. Very distracting and very beautiful.

Getting ready to go for a ride at the Hotel Bella Tola
Waking the bikes up at the Hotel Bella Tolla on a gorgeous day
Starting the ride with a chairlift ride. 610m lift to the Alpine
610m lift to the Alpine
Climbing to Illsee Pass
Riding to Illsee Pass
Down the Prince of Persia downhill to Illsee
Riding down the Prince of Persia downhill to Illsee. A technical, rocky descent
Posing with a view of the Illsee
Riding down a section to Illsee. The saddle on the other side of the hydro lake is where we hike-a-bike back up to Parilet pass
Sharon posing with a view of the Valais valley
Poser Norco shot with the Crans Montana area in the backdrop

This section of trail is a much more popular hike than a bike so do not be too surprised to see surprised wanderweggers. There is one tough hike a bike of about 300m from Illsee to Parilet Pass at about 2555m but then you put your bike on the shoulder and just go and soon it's all over. You get an interesting view of the Swiss dam and the size of the facilities. It surprised me to find that Swiss Hydro generates 56%of the countries power needs! What will happen when all their glaciers melt out? Who knows - but being Swiss no doubt they will be prepared.

Following the descent there is sublime singletrack winding its way through excellent trail-bed and trails all the way to valley floor and ending ultimately at the town of Sierre at 533m. Yes, you are correct - that is a little over 2000m of descending including sections of perfect singletrack with switchback after switchback after switchback. After an eternity of descent we are trundling through paved roads to Sierre and to the bus station When it's all over there's the Postbus assist uphill and up the road back to St Luc and the Hotel Bella Tolla's comfort.

Climbing up to Parilet Pass
Shafudin getting used to the Swiss way of Mountain Bike-a-neering
Railing singletrack off the Parilet
Martin riding down to treeline
Techy section of trail
Some technicality on the downhills is always expected
Techy section of trail
Shafudin grateful that his rebar-reinforced chainstay is still intact
Through the field before the fast part of the descent.
Through the field before the fast part of the descent.
Forest section of trail
Forest section of trail

Where to stay

We continued our stay at the Hotel Bella Tolla and had more time to chill and soak in some pampered luxury.

Enjoying the dying days of summer
Enjoying the dying days of summer
Getting ready for our dinner. Even Lee put a clean shirt on.
Getting ready for our dinner. Even Lee put a clean shirt on

We wish to thank Tourism SwitzerlandValais Tourism, Brig Simplon TourismSierre Anniviers, and Crans Montana for their support.

Useful Links

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
Tourism Switzerland
Tourism Valais
Edelweiss Air - (direct from Vancouver and many other west coast cities to Zurich)

Part One
Part Two

Keep a look out for part four, coming next Sunday.

MENTIONS: @leelau @Alpine-Trails-Switzerland

Must Read This Week


  • + 9
 Switzerland knows how to cook. You would think they would "drop the ball" with everything else there being amazing. But no, they really take pride in having good food. I wish more people commented about it.
  • + 5
 For sure eating out isn't cheap. I won't lie. In the cities there was quite a few less expensive places to eat. Mostly ethnic food though. Swiss cities were quite multicultural
  • + 3
 The best burger in the universe is to be found at the bottom of the double black run into Chamonix, I had to have another!
  • + 4
 Khmm.. To be honest, in Switzerland you can enjoy in really lot of things, but most of the time Swiss food can left to desire. Sorry.

On the other hand, I can understand that after 6+ hours on the bike boiled potato and melted Raclette sounds fantastic. Big Grin
  • + 1
 Mountains and mountain sports, nice villages and landscapes, hospitality yes but,... Swiss kitchen!! come on guys, get serious.
  • + 3
 Maybe you guys are not punctual enough to get the good stuff.
  • + 2
  • + 3
 I agree. The food in Switzerland (and nearby France) is outstanding. Be sure to stop by and snag (a bunch) Alp cheese from one of the locals who make it in the mountain villages. Swiss cheese is not what us North American's think it is. It's not that nasty American-made holey-thing. It's rich, delicious and full of flavor.

Be sure to try Raclette as well, especially served the traditional way!

P.P.S. The local beer is not bad at all, but it's super light and you can drink gallons of the stuff with no consequence.
  • + 3
 Was thinking about this. I had some really shitty food at some half-boards in Davos. But then I've had some amazing food at halfboards in Grindelwald. In general though the fresh food is insanely good. Like Swiss cheese which frankly makes North American cheese taste and smell like rancid poo.There's also stuff like the crote/kaschschnictte (sorry bad spelling) which was also insanely good.

So maybe i got lucky. But in general the portions are smaller than whale-like North American portions. But generally also the food has been pretty good. Ie what boxxerace said
  • + 1
 Agreed @leelau ! Can you believe how gorgeous the area around Grindelwald is? I was on both sides of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau and spent most of my time in and around Murren (just across the valley). The photos I snapped just gets my adventure and need to travel back there again in high gear. LOVE love LOVE Switzerland!

Speaking of cheese, I also visited the French speaking area of Switzerland known as Gruyere. The castle was pretty interesting and the cheese, while bold, is great. One of the more common "Swiss" cheeses found in North America. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruy%C3%A8res
  • + 11
 Now that's my kind of riding! Switzerland's definitely one for the bucket list...
  • + 5
 @Lee Lau: Glaciers are not the only source of water for hydropower. Projected atmospheric warming should lead to higher rainfall in the alpine region, so power generation shouldn't be an issue.
Riding in rain (and mud) will suck, tho'
  • + 3
 Paul hopefully it means no need to get dependant on Russian natural gas
  • - 7
flag WAKIdesigns (Mar 15, 2015 at 13:22) (Below Threshold)
 What if Swiss started melting glaciers to ship water to Alberta to produce steam to get oil for Uncle Sam Big Grin No brown people were harmed in the process. Oh Red ones were? Naeeeee, just the green left accusations, go occupy wallstreet suckers ahahahahahhaha drill baby drill! - Where were you when sluts of that communist Putin were shooting down an airplane? Why are ISIS using Kalashnikovs?! Answer that letists! - hold it brother, we just haven't manage to sell enough M16s to Afghanis in 1980s - those bloody terrorists?! - naeee Osama you see... - I don't blame him, that was a great deal, we were paying his dad for oil, then he was giving this money to us for M16s and stingers. - Aren't ISIS dudes the students of the same guys that were at power when daddy Roosevelt was doing first shopping in Emirates? - Naeee... now they threaten Israel! Reason for two oil crises, I am sure that ISIS is after their gold - what? do you mean Isis will invade Switzerland? - What, why? Swiss are not French they would not surrender quickly, they have bunkers in the mountains, full of guns, tanks, jets and ISIS stands no chance with their medieval beliefs and IPads - Look I am tired I must make some shares and likes on "Stop civil war in Kongo". Thanks to those dudes and women slaughtered like pigs while mining rare metals at prices lower than Chinese sell their farts to Wallmart, we can write tons of dumbest crap on internet, like btch on religion, and think of ourselves as moral people. Oh look, now I support people against cutting trees for Palm Oil! - Is that somewhere in Pacific? - Yea kind of, I heard that there's tons of Plastic floating in that Ocean - yea, I wonder if Demo Sworks frame floats there - yea owning a carbon frame is immoral - big carbon footprint and causes global warming - I'm sure it does. Surplus is immoral - have we touched enough touchy subjects? I think so.

Arguably yours: Waki's left and right brain hemispheres (we like quantum physics!)
  • + 7
 @leelau, I'm curious, did you meet the farmer at the end of the field before the fast part of the descent?
  • + 4
 Stim - unfortunately yes.
  • + 4
 Glad to see you are still here to tell the tale!
  • + 2
 To be honest...this was also my first thought.
We did this descent in 2011 and try to ask him for the way...this was a fault! The first mile after we met him was very fast. Wink
  • + 3
 Most hobby farmers in the alps do not even own the land. They rent or are allowed to graze that piece of land yet they behave as if they are Kings of that tiny piece of grass. What's worse is we have to pay so they can live the goat FKN life. Hobby farmers are subsidized by our taxes which hurts even worse. I normally blow through without any regard to them. If the trail goes through his rented out space that I had to pay for then FK him. # No disrespect to real farmers who live off the land and provide us with food, but these guys live in the middle lands not the Alps. Yet these hobby farmers and their 12 goats still believe they are important.
  • + 4
 "Damn, I'm out of breath after that hike-a-bike. Think I'll have a cigarette."

Don't know if that guy was a Euro, but the irony of smoking while participating in supposedly healthy activities never fails to entertain me. And it's so common on that side of the Atlantic.
  • + 2
 It's just as common here too. I've seen tons of lycra clad roadies smoking WHILE ridding. Europe smokes more than N.A.
  • + 8
 great report. i wist there was more articles like this one on pinkbike.
  • + 6
 Since when did Trek start using "rebar-reinforced chainstays"? Solid. Wink
  • + 4
 It lasted the entire trip. Amazing really. Beware of slipping and crashing on goat scheisse
  • + 3
 Huge thanks to Noodles to speaking to the construction guy for that piece of rebar, and to Lee for his roll of gorilla tape, and for everyone else for the hilarious ideas to fix up the bike Big Grin It was amazing that it held up under all that stress from trail gnar, and still completed the trip in one piece.
  • + 7
 Nice trails!
  • + 5
 Awesome photos. Makes me very excited; 160 days till I will be there, can't wait!
  • + 3
 @Loboapo28 Does this bring back memories? Man, I want to go back! I feel like I barely scratched the surface out there.
  • + 2
 Yeah, it does! That was some rough n' rocky terrain out there, oh and steep! Forget the groomed out BMX flow of most parks now-a-days, that was legit!
  • + 4
 Very good place!!!
  • + 2
 Looks beautiful
  • + 1
 Please add a map so readers can find this trail
  • - 1
 Sorry no no no GO....!!!!!!
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