A Guide to Off Piste Skiing in Val d’Anniviers, Switzerland

Daniel DawsonDecember 23, 2018

Situated in the southern Swiss canton of Valais, Val d’Anniviers is an increasingly popular off-piste ski spot that celebrates the region’s rich history and culture of skiing.

While not as recognizable as its neighbors to the west and east, Verbier and Zermatt, the valley rivals them both in terms of both quantity and quality of snow – just without all the crowds and luxury resorts.

The valley, itself, is the epitome of the country’s iconic Alpine wilderness. Val d’Anniviers is widely considered to be the most beautiful of the seven large transverse valleys in Valais.

From the south, the valley is skirted by the Grande Couronne Range and includes several iconic peaks, including the Weisshorn and Matterhorn. Toward the north, east and west, Val d’Anniviers is surrounded by several other valleys.

The small size of the valley is advantageous as well. Many of the resorts are only a few hours away from each other and some are even closer. This means on one trip you will be able to sample a lot of different areas and stick around in the one you like the most.

Regardless of where you go in the valley, you are sure to be met with stunning scenery and excellent skiing. The rustic feel of most of the resorts will also take you back to a simpler time, allowing you to enjoy all the pleasures of skiing without too many modern distractions.  

3 Reasons to Go Off-Piste Skiing in Val d’Anniviers  

 

Enjoy incredible scenery and all types of off-piste skiing when you pay a visit to Val d’Anniviers. Photo courtesy of Danilo Kalbermatter.

Stunning scenery

 

Val d’Anniviers is one of the most scenic valleys in all of Switzerland. With stunning mountain views throughout, combined with evergreen pine forests and lovely mountain lakes, there is plenty to see each day that you are here.

Off-piste skiing allows you to escape from more crowded slopes and get a better look for yourself at all of the valley’s natural splendor.

There’s plenty to do

 

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there is plenty to do in the Val d’Anniviers. Numerous resorts offer excellent off-piste freeride opportunities for beginners as well as advanced skiers.

Some of these off-piste routes are fairly simple and make for an enjoyable circuit through the surroundings. Others are more demanding and get your adrenaline pumping as you head down steep and complicated slopes.

For those who are more adventurous there are also ample off-piste hut-to-hut options that take you all through the valley as well as into others. This gives you a great sampling of the scenery as well as some off-piste skiing that is as challenging as it is fun.

Come for the culture

 

When you are not out on the slopes take advantage of being somewhere different. Regardless of the village in which you choose to stay, there are plenty of interesting things to do when the sun has set.

Enjoy the local architecture, much of which looks like it has for the past hundreds of years. Take the time to sample some of the local cuisine, such as the famous Swiss chocolate. The area is also known for some of its beers and wine.

Top Resorts in Val d’Anniviers for Off Piste Skiing

Grimentz – Zinal

 

Higher up and on the valley’s eastern slopes snow falls in abundance, creating excellent deep skiing opportunities. Photo courtesy of Francis Kesley.

Situated on the eastern slopes of the Val d’Anniviers, these two resorts span some of the best off-piste terrain in the entire valley. Connected by cable car and encompassing several towering peaks in between, these two resorts are a must-see for serious off-piste skiers.

There are more than 115 kilometers of trails to explore in between the two resorts with plenty of on and off-piste skiing to be done. Four mountains towering over 2.800 meters – Combe Durand, Corne de Sorebois, Becs de Bosson and Roc d’Orzivals –  make up the most formidable and exciting skiing and earn this area a reputations for its off-piste skiing.

While the slopes here may not be as steep in either Verbier to Zermatt, the powder generally stays untracked for much longer.

Zinal also serves as the starting point for a fairly popular hut-to-hut off-piste skiing program that runs up north toward Saint-Luc and west toward the village of Brig.  

Saint-Luc – Chandolin

 

When you are not out on the slopes, there is plenty to do in the little villages that dot the valley floor. Photo courtesy of Mege Christen.

Sitting at the northwestern edge of the Val d’Anniviers, these two idyllic ski villages are connected by 75 kilometers of gentle pistes, but also offer several steeper and more intense off-piste action.

With most of the skiing taking place above the treeline, there is plenty to keep the most avid off-piste skier busy for a long weekend. The towns sit along the slopes of the Illhorn and Bella Tola, both of which offer some excellent off-piste action away from the rest of the resort areas.

While there is usually plenty of snow throughout the peak season, sometimes the southwest face loses some of its snow cover beginning in March.

Saint-Luc also serves as the starting point for a popular hut-to-hut off-piste skiing itinerary that ends in Zermatt.  

Vercorin

 

Enjoy untouched powder at some areas of Val d’Anniviers, even during the high season! Photo courtesy of Francis Kesley.

Located at the very northern end of the Val d’Anniviers, Vercorin is a much lower off-piste destination than the others, with the highest lifts only reaching 2.374 meters. However, due to its northerly orientation, the area keeps its snow for much longer.

There are several dozen kilometers of trails to follow around the quaint little town of varying difficulty. However, for beginners, this is the ideal location to hone your off-piste skills as well as learn some new ones!

For those more experienced and intrepid off-piste skiers, it is also possible to ski all the way from Grimentz to Vercorin, which requires a long day and professional guide.

Best time to go there

 

The best time to visit Val d’Anniviers for off-piste skiing is from January to March. Snow begins to fall in the region at the end of December and generally starts to melt in April. Therefore, there should be plenty of powder throughout the season.

During the winter, average daily temperatures range from -2°C to 7 °C and decrease the higher up in elevation you are. January tends to be both the snowiest and coldest month, making it the peak time for off-piste skiers to visit. Heading here at the end of February or March ensures that you’ll still have plenty of snow, but avoid some of the crowds.

How much does it cost?

 

By the time the beginning of January rolls round, there is already plenty of snow in the southern Swiss valley. Photo courtesy of Lars Vanhaelewyck.

The price of an off-piste skiing trip to one of the resorts at Val d’Anniviers largely depends on a few factors: how long you choose to go for, how many people are in your group and what is included in the trip package.

Generally speaking, a week-long trip will cost about €1.600 per person and include half-board meals, guiding fees and accommodation. The price may decrease if more people are participating in the trip.

Other types of trips, including hut-to-hut ski tours and shorter trips, will generally cost a bit less, especially if split among more people, and include some of the same things.

Prices differ from guide to guide, so remember always to ask for a price quote as well as what’s included when comparing packages.

How to get there?

 

Just about every trip to Val d’Anniviers begins with a flight into the international airport at Geneva (GVA). The airport is easily reached from most major European cities.

From here, you could then transfer to one of the local airports via a domestic flight (there are airports at Sion, Vercorin and Chandolin) or proceed directly from Geneva in train or car.

With a rental car, you could make the scenic two hour drive, north of Lake Leman, and on to wherever you are staying in Val d’Anniviers. Sion is the closest major settlement.

If you don’t want the hassle of renting a car, then you could take one of Switzerland’s famous trains. The IR90 runs directly from the airport to Sion and takes less than two hours.

Some trips will start in villages located directly in the valley, such as Saint-Luc or Grimentz. These can both be reached by bus once you have arrived in Sion.

 

Photo courtesy of Mege Christen.

 

So what are you waiting for? Book now for an amazing off-piste ski adventure in the stunningly scenic Val d’Anniviers today and come take a look at what everyone else is missing out on!

 

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