Switzerland, Europe

Zinal Day Tours

The Val d’Anniviers in the Valais area of the Swiss Alps is one of ski touring's best kept secrets and offers huge potential for the adventurous skier. The area is characterised by high alpine terrain, deep valleys and charming alpine villages. This area is a fantastic antidote to the more heavily developed areas of the western Alps. Powder descents of 1,500m abound and there are many vast bowls where fresh tracks can be found even weeks after the last snowfall! The area features a high and comprehensive lift system and multiple slope aspects which ensure good conditions throughout the season. No mass tourism, no high-rise buildings, and few skiers off piste; the area is attractive and traditional with only tentative signs of any new developments.

A single lift pass covers 4 areas: Zinal, Grimentz, St Luc and Vercoran - and the sheer volume of terrain on offer ensures that it’s unlikely we ski the same run twice!

Day Itinerary

  • Travel to Zinal and a welcome by Eric and Penny at the chalet. In the evening you will meet your guides who will give a briefing on the plans for the week.

  • The week starts with a warm-up day with no guiding. You can explore the local Zinal ski area and Penny and Eric will be happy to advise on the best places to ski.

  • We'll start off with a day in Zinal or Grimentz where your guide will do an avalanche safety briefing and then some warm up skiing on and off piste. You will do some skills sessions on ski touring and familiarise yourselves with the equipment and go for a short ski tour in the afternoon. Return to the chalet.
  • Our first touring day - head up into the Zinal ski area and ski the north slope of Corne de Sorebois before turning left and skiing round to Grimentz. Take an early lunch and then go to the top of the Roc d'Orzival (2816m) to ski the north slope in to Orzival followed by a long easterly traverse back into the Grimentz lift area. Take the Bec du Bosson lifts and skin and ski to the Bec du Bosson hut (2983m) where we stay the night. Approx 150m of skinning.

  • From the hut skin up to the Pointes de Tsavolire (3026m) before skiing the north east face. Skin back to the hut (150m) and ski into the plateau of the Lac de Lona (2640m) followed by the skin to the Basset de Lona (2792m) and the excellent ski down to the Moiry dam and back to Grimentz. Return to Mottec on the bus. In total: aprox 400m (2 hours) of skinning.

  • We start with a road journey to St Luc where we take the lifts up to the top of the Bella Tolla (3025m) and traverse round the west side of the summit to ski the north north east facing bowl. This is followed by a 150m climb west to the Parilet. Ski down to above the dam and another short skin to get back in to the St Luc ski area where we stop for lunch. Back up to the Bella tolla and ski down the Bortertalli valley to Oberrems on north and east facing slopes. We descend with the cable car from Oberrems in to the Rhone valley before returning back to Mottec using public transport. This is a big day with rather complex travel arangments but it all fits together if you make an early start. A total of 250m (1.5hrs) of skinning.

  • Back to Grimentz via Zinal ski area and then up to the Roc d'Orzival. This time go south west and ski north west from the Col du Tsan and skin north east to near la Brinta for 250m (1.5hrs). This gives accsess back to the orxival and the Grimentz lift area. Return to Mottec.

  • Depart after breakfast

2020

Dates

Price

Sun 29 Mar
- Sun 05 Apr
£1695 Book
Flexible From £1,695 PRIVATE GROUP Enquire

The price includes 6 nights chalet-board accommodation (twin-rooms), 1 night in a high mountain refuge and 5 days guide fees & expenses.
The price does not include travel to/from Zinal, airport transfers, local transport & uplift, personal insurance, equipment hire, lunches & drinks
Single room occupancy is limited and where available will incur additional charges. Ask us for details.

We are proud to offer all of our returning customers a £50 discount.

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Ski Club Winter Arrangements limited (trading as Mountain Tracks)
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This is an extensive list of the equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Day Ski Touring trips

During the trip you will be staying most nights in comfortable chalet or hotel accommodation on a half board or B&B basis. You will just need to carry a day pack with your avalanche safety equipment and a few personal items.

On some of our trips you will stay 1 night out in a mountain hut. Huts in the Alps are comfortable but very basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets and dormitory-style accommodation. All the huts provide ‘hut slippers’ – these days they are usually Crocs - and so you will not need to carry additional footwear.   You will need to have a sleeping bag liner for any hut nights; huts provide a duvet or blankets plus a pillow for sleeping so its not necessary to carry a sleeping bag. 

  • When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply a suitable kit.

    This season, we’ve partnered with Ortovox to provide us with the very best safety kit and clothing. Our guides will all be decked out in the latest Ortovox jackets and trousers and will keep warm, dry and comfortable thanks to their technical wool base- and mid-layers. Our guides couldn’t recommend their kit more highly.

     

    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than an insulated jacket.
    • 1-2 thin fleeces - rather than a thick layer between your skin and the outer shell - an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’. The principle of ‘layering’ e.g. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity is recommended to ensure comfort on the mountain.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • For the lower half it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (long johns).
    • These can then be combined with either:
    • (a) a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants in a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex (b) a pair of mountain or alpine pants in a softshell material together with a pair of lightweight, breathable over trousers with long side zips.
    • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Ortovox. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Good quality Gore-Tex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell or fleece gloves for when it is hot and for ski touring in. Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer from cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.

    Skis

    This winter our lead guides are using Salomon Explore MTN and Salomon QST touring skis. The MTN 95 is an award-winning ski with great stability at high speeds whilst the MTN 88 is a best-selling lightweight touring ski. The QST’s are slightly heavier and therefore suited to charging; perfect for day-touring.
    Lockwoods Ski and Outdoor are supporting our guides and we suggest that if you’re interested in any of the MTN or QST skis, you should make Lockwoods your first point of call. 


    For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.


    There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufacturers:
    Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com 
    Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com  
    Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com  
    Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us 
    Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
    Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com

    There are plenty of other great skis to choose from so if you’re planning on buying skis for ski touring or general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us, or Lockwoods, to discuss the options available.

    If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.

    Boots
    It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking uphill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best. 

    Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all-round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.

    The best of the rest are:
    Fischer - Transalp
    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
    K2 – Pinnacle boot
    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    Bindings
    For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!

    It’s essential you have ski touring bindings on your skis. Although Pin bindings have been around since the Dynafit Low Tech bindings over 30 years ago, since their patent expired the technology has advanced substantially. Salomon, with their Shift Binding, are at the forefront; they’re ‘multi norm compatible’ so fit a selection of boots and are lighter than most freeride bindings. Our lead guides are using the Shift binding this winter, so if you’d like to know more about them give Lockwoods a ring.

    Ski Poles
    We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.

    Rucksack
    For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.

    Key features of a good ski touring pack:

    • a method of attaching your skis in either an A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage
    • easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom
    • separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe
    • small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglassed/goggles etc; an ice axe loop
    • built-in rain cover and a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet 
    • good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps

    Ortovox Haute Route 40 rucksack will be a good choice for ski touring trips. 

    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one. 

    Over a long multiday tour, every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.

     

    • Ski Skins – these are skins which, now made of artificial fabric, stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
    • Ski Crampons (aka couteaux) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons. 
    • Ice Axe - general lightweight mountaineering / alpine pick. Ideally this needs to be short enough to fit in your pack.
    • Boot Crampons - ideally lightweight aluminum ones although steel crampons are required for more demanding tours
    • Climbing Harness - a simple lightweight harness. The key feature is that it should have fully adjustable leg loops for putting on over ski boots, crampons, etc.

    On some tours in non-glaciated terrain an ice-axe, boot crampons and climbing harness may not always be required. However as conditions and itineraries can change we do generally recommend that you bring these items with you. If you do not own these items they can be rented to you by our guides or via one of the local sports shops.
    • Good pair of ski goggles with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    • Good quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection
    • 35 – 40 liter rucksack
    • 1 – 1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they can freeze.
    • Food – bring some of your favorite hill nibbles (chocolate, energy bars)*
    • Suncream and lip salve
    • Camera with a large capacity memory card!
    • Money – most hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but not all the alpine huts do. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 20-30 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption)
    Please note that your guide will have a few “spares” and other safety items that he or she will ask the group to carry between them; so leave a small space in your sack for an item e.g. spare skin, spare ski pole, emergency shelter.

    For a hut night:
    • Lightweight sleeping bag liner – now compulsory in most huts.
    • Wash kit with small personal first aid items – should include:
    • Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
    • Soap
    • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
    • Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
    • Tissues and toilet roll
    • Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
    • Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
    • Antiseptic cream or wipes
    • Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
    • (Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
    • Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
    • Most huts have limited washing facilities
    • Earplugs – it can get quite noisy!
    • Headtorch - lightweight and carry spare batteries.
    • Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
    What to wear in the hut
    We are often asked by people what they should wear in the hut. It's a good question as you don't want to carry many or any extra clothes with you if they are not required. In the winter you will probably end up wearing your base layer thermals (top & bottom) or you can carry a lightweight pair of loose trousers to wear around the hut in the afternoons/evenings. Your base layer top is what you will probably wear on your top half or you can carry a t-shirt to wear in the hut that can double to sleep in. 

    Food and Water
    We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
    If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
    You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.

  • The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.

    • Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon
    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe

    We recommend Simple and intuitive ORTOVOX AVALANCHE RESCUE KIT 3+ 

     

    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it. 

    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training

  • Most resorts have ski shops that hire ski equipment and we try to provide relevant contact details for all our courses and tours.

    Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs for 6-days hire:

    Touring Skis plus skins and ski crampons €150-180
    Touring boots €80-90 
    Boot Crampons €45-50
    Ice Axe €30-40
    Harness €20-30
    Helmet €20-30
    Transceiver/shovel/probe €75-80

    Our guides also generally have additional sets of safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe) which they hire out to clients for €65 for 6 days hire. Must be booked in advance.

The Val d'Annivièrs is the most easterly French speaking valley in southern Switzerland. From a skiers point of view five of its many idyllic and picturesque villages: St. Luc, Chandolin, Zinal, Grimentz and Vercorin operate ski lifts and pistes all on the same ski pass. Each is a ski area in its own right and stretch between 1200m – 3000m in altitude. With skiing on all aspects of the compass the valley is renowned for its variety of snow and the scope of its freeriding.

The area has a large network of lifts servicing 200km of pistes up to an altitude of almost 3,000m. The whole area is characterised by stunning high alpine terrain, deep valleys and charming villages. The main ski domains of Zinal, Grimentz, St Luc-Chandolin and Vercorin are well-connected by local buses. The area also has the advantages of being relatively unknown (and therefore not so busy) and easily accessible from Geneva, Zurich or Sion airports.

We rate Zinal and the Val d'Anniviers as one of the best areas for off-piste and backcountry skiing in the Alps.

Our top reasons to visit Zinal

  • The off-piste terrain is as good as it gets anywhere in the Alps!
  • Fresh tracks can be skied here for days after other resorts have been tracked out
  • Off the beaten track, but still within 3 hours of Geneva Airport - 2 hours if you hire a car as 3/4 of the journey is motorway!
  • Luxuriating in the wonderful hospitality on offer in Chalet Edelweiss
  • Among many excellent descents is the classic run down to the Moiry Dam, a must on a blue-sky powder day!
  • The Imperial Crown Haute Route - a majestic 5-day ski tour that knocks the spots off many more well known ski tours

 

Resort Height: 1,670m

Highest Lift: 3,000m

Nearest Airport: Geneva or Zurich

Accommodation in Zinal

For many of our weeks in Zinal we stay at the comfortable Chalet Edelweiss run by our good friends Eric and Penny Kendall. They have created a fantastic chalet in the village of Mottec just 2 minutes from Zinal. The chalet has 5 comfortable twin or double rooms, all with ensuite facilities, complimentary toiletries and fluffy towels. The lounge area has plenty of seating, a large fire place, library, TV/DVD/satellite and music system plus an internet corner and wifi. Penny's cooking is exceptional and you will be fed and watered extremely well all week with breakfast, tea and a 3-course evening meal. It’s possible for the vast majority of the winter to ski directly back to the chalet off piste all the way with over 1500m of descent, arriving to well deserved tea and cakes!

The chalet has a ski room with boot dryer and private car park. They also hose a Scott Ski Test Centre at the chalet with many pairs of freeride and touring skis for hire and test. You can book ski hire with the chalet direct before you travel. If you need to hire boots then this needs to be done at the local ski shop in Zinal village. Find out more about the Chalet at www.skizinal.com

We also work with some of the hotels in the village of Zinal for other weeks like the Hotel Besso and Hotel Europe. Both offer comfortable accommodation plus good food. The village is small with a few shops and a good après ski bar called the Bar e VoX close to the bottom of the main lift at Sorebois.

Recommended Travel Options

The most convenient airport is Geneva followed by Zurich. Train is the best option for the onward journey from the airport to Zinal. Connections are regular and the total travel time is approximately 3hrs 15mins from Geneva with 2 changes and around 4hrs with 3 or 4 changes from Zurich Airport. To look up train timetables use this link Swiss Railway Timetables You can travel as far as Sierre in the main Rhone Valley by train, here you have to change to the Swiss Post Bus (Yellow) and you travel up the Val d'Anniviers by bus (you may need to change in Vissoie). If you are staying at Chalet Edelweiss, you must ask the driver for Mottec (as it’s a request stop) and the bus stops right outside Chalet Edelweiss. This is the large balconied house alongside the road.

Alternatively, you can hire a car at the airport, driving time to the Auberge is approximately 2 hrs from Geneva, and 2.5 hrs from Zurich.

 

  • It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • You want to arrange to arrive in Zinal by late afternoon on the first day.

    At the end of the week the course finishes after breakfast on the last day and we recommend that you arrange your return/onward flight for mid to late afternoon to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport without having to rush!

    The most convenient airports are Geneva or Zurich airport from where you can take the train to Sierre (Geneva 2 hrs, Zurich 2.5 hrs).  At Sierre catch the yellow Post Bus to Zinal, you may need to change in Vissoie.  Ask the driver for Mottec (as it’s a request stop) and the bus stops right outside Chalet Edelweiss.  This is the large balconied house fronting the road.  Train and bus timetables can be found at www.sbb.ch/en.  

    The last bus leaves Sierre station at 1910 (and gets to Mottec at about 2005) and so if you are going to arrive later than this then you’ll need to take a taxi for this leg of the journey. The cost for the taxi is about 120 CHF for 1-4 people. www.taxianniviers.ch  

    If you are coming as a group you may also want to consider booking a taxi for the whole journey. This will cost from 600 CHF for 1-4 people.

    Alternatively you can hire a car at the airport. Driving time to the chalet is approximately 2 hrs from Geneva and 2.5 hrs from Zurich.      

  • All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks. 

  • Our base is Chalet Edelweiss in the hamlet of Mottec, 2kms from Zinal and at the foot of one of the valley’s best off piste routes. Our hosts Penny and Eric renovated the old building themselves, providing us with a luxurious stay and great facilities for skiers - a range of Scott freeride skis to test, ski-room with boot dryer, warm booting-up space and a stop for the free ski-bus right outside. Our groups have loved this home from home, with its huge double-sided fireplace, ample seating and extensive library, as well as vin chaud evenings around the outdoor firepit. Penny’s delicious food is a highpoint, not just the cakes, evening meals and local wines, but extensive breakfasts designed for you to get the most out of your ski day.
    One night is also spent in the Bec du Bossons refuge.
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