This past weekend we organised a weekend in Wallis taking in the sights around the UNESCO world heritage area around the Aletsch glacier and the peaceful valleys and stunning mountain views of the Saflischpass.

We arrived down a day ahead of the group to ensure that everything was in order and to “check the condition of the trails” (also known as getting a sneaky ride in before everyone arrived.) We were joined on our recce ride by two super enthusiastic group members who felt that 2 days riding in Wallis just wasn’t enough… and frankly I think they were probably right.

There is nothing to see here… Keep your eyes on the trail!
Some of the most scenic riding anywhere.

Once the group arrived on Friday evening we all went for dinner and spent the evening sharing stories of favourite trails and building up to the anticipation of the next day. Saturday dawned without a cloud in the sky and after breakfast and getting a few minor mechanicals sorted it was straight onto the cablecar up to Fiescheralp followed by a short ride to Bettmeralp where we could take the Gondola up to Bettmerhorn. We had a bit of a break here to take in the views over the Aletsch glacier before following a trail along the ridge towards Riederfurka. The trail starts off steep and loose and later gets very flowy but also a little pedally. There were sections on this trail that everyone enjoyed, but also sections to challenge nearly everyone in the group. Before we got to Riederfurka a few of the faster riders got to get in a second loop on Bettmerhorn (plus a section of bonus trail down to Bettmeralp) before joining us for lunch.

Our group in front of the Aletsch glacier.
Another trail, another view of the glacier.

The afternoon was spent on a 1200m descent from Riederalp to Morel. Once again this trail offered something to test everyone in the group, but it also offered some fast flowy bits to bring smiles to everyones faces. We arrived into Morel at about 4pm for ice-cream… or for those who had enough energy another bonus trail.

The ride to the valley.

Then it was back to our accommodation to get showered and changed before dinner and have a few quiet drinks in Fiesch while reflecting on an amazing day in the mountains.

We awoke to perfect weather once again on Sunday. The plan was to split into two groups and use the Post Auto to save 500m of climbing on todays tour. While Saturdays ride had something to test everyone technically todays test would be more physical than technical. It was still 1200m up to the high point of our tour on the Saflischpass from where we get off the bus and not all of it ridable… For some this was to be the first experience of an alpine tour with a longer section of hike-a-bike, but once at the pass we were treated to a perfect alpine flow trail taking us almost 2000m down to the valley below which made all the work getting to the top well worth while.

Almost there, the last section before the pass… and still smiling!
Made it, our group on Saflischpass
Alpine flow.
The 36er trail down to Brig

Once we got down to Brig we had to go for the compulsory ice-cream and drink before returning to Fiesch by train and heading on our homeward journeys.

The feedback we got from the weekend was amazing. We had an amazing bunch of people who all really enjoyed having their bikes out in the mountains and it was great to see so many smiles and so much enthusiasm for what we do on the weekend. It really gives me personally an incentive to keep on going and finding newer and better routes to show the group in the next few years.

After the group left it was time for some SAA R&D. We had a few tours in mind that had not been done yet and we decided to stay in Wallis and spend a few days exploring to find some new trails for the group in 2013.

Monday was once again a dream day in the mountains, we had planned a route which would involve a lift, 800m of on the bike altitude gain and then a 400m hike-a-bike to get us to the start of our planned trail. Unfortunately we also suffered a few mechanicals that morning so by the time everything was ready we decided that we would go for plan B and spend the rest of the day optimising a route we already knew near Crans-Montana. Instead of having to do a long climb to a trail head we had previously used on a group ride we used a gondola to gain most of the altitude and then got to the trail head via a descent, a single trail traverse and a much shorter climb. This route also got us even more trail into an already excellent day.

Fun in Crans

The weather was forecast to break by Tuesday and we were a little nervous as to whether Plan A would work or not. We needed to get ourselves up to a high pass at just under 2600m from where we could pick up a trail the whole way to the valley. (Close to 2000m descent on one trail!). The forecast had me a little nervous on Monday night, but by Tuesday morning things had improved and we decided to get ourselves up the mountain. We used pretty much every type of transport infrastructure Switzerland offers to get us a long way up the mountain. From there it was a mix of riding and hiking to get to our target pass. Once there we had a short break, took some photos and dropped into what I would consider to be one of the best trails I have ever ridden.

More high Alpine fun.

We started off in high open alpine pasture land, then descended into rocky scrub before switch-backing through the woods for about 1000m of descent which lead us to some really flowy highspeed singletrail which took us nicely onto a very narrow (and reasonably exposed) bisse to test our XC skills. This really is one trail that tests almost every aspect of your mountain biking ability, but it does it in a way that never takes you too close to insanity. The trail is 100% rideable the whole way down, but it offers just enough challenge to keep you 100% focused on what you are doing the whole time.

We had a loose plan for a short ride on Wednesday if the weather held, but our luck changed and the rain came in so it was back on a train Zurich bound on Wednesday morning with huge smiles and the feeling the we really do live in the best country in the world for mountain biking.


Swiss Alpine Adventure


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