The Best Undiscovered Ski Resorts in Europe: Val d’Anniviers, Switzerland

Where it's more about skiing than the scene

Mar 8, 2013
Outside
Outside Magazine

Panoramic view of the Val d'Anniviers.    Photo: Alkarex/Wikimedia Commons

Tucked into one of the last French speaking valleys before you hit Switzerland’s German-speaking cantons to the east, Val d’Anniviers offers 13 alpine villages and 136 miles of slopes across three ski resorts—Zinal/Grimentz, St. Luc/Chandolin, and Vercorin—all on one $53-a-day ticket. As if that weren’t enticement enough, Val d’Anniviers’ lift-accessed steeps are world class. Hit the Liaison, a ridge linking St. Luc and Chandolin, which features several 45- to 55-degree, north-facing shots and some of the best snow in the valley. It’s also the site of a Freeride World Tour Qualifier competition in March.

Val d’Anniviers is also home to amazing—and easy-to-access—ski touring. Les Vallons Meretschi makes for an easy day tour, looping through several bowls, past the Ilsee dam, and ending with the Illhorn couloir, which drops you back into Chandolin. Before heading off-piste, dial in your avalanche skills at Zinal’s Avalanche Training Center, a football-field-sized zone with 16 buried transmitters that simulates an avalanche site. So much terrain can be overwhelming, so hire a guide, like Salomon athlete Jochen Reiser, who heads up the Chandolin-based Snow Academy, which offers freeride camps and guiding services.

Off the slopes, the villages of Val d’Anniviers are unrivalled when it comes to charm. Cruise the cobblestone streets of old Grimentz and check out the still-in-use 15th-century buildings. For traditional mountain fare and a cozy ambience, grab dinner at the Cabane Illhorn, an mountain refuge a few minutes walk from Chandolin that serves up a killer rabbit dish. Stay at the Bella Tola, a refurbished 19th-century hotel complete with luxurious bedrooms, spa, and Raclette every Tuesday night. There’s not much nightlife in the valley, save for a few bars like Azimut pub in St. Luc, but no matter, Val d’Anniviers is where you come to ski and soak in the alpine charm of a time gone by.

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