A Guide To Skiing In Valais

The Swiss canton of Valais is packing some of Europe's top resorts – we check out a few of them

Header image: Ski touring high in the Nendaz backcountry. Photo: Ryan Van Kesteren

The Swiss canton of Valais (or Wallis, if you’d prefer German) is one of the gems of European winter sports. No matter what tickles your fancy, it’s got the lot: Shredding piste? You’ve got the choice of 2,000 kilometres of some of the finest cord on offer. Prefer sipping on Pinot noir? Valais is the largest wine producing region of Switzerland. How about ski touring in the wildest locations in the Alps? Valais is home to 45 summits above 4,000 metres, including Western Europe’s second highest peak – Monte Rosa. This canton packs an alpine punch.

There are many renowned resorts nestled in this region that borders both Italy and France; Verbier, Zermatt and Saas Fee to name just a few. But why stick to the age-old clichés? We headed to the less well known resorts of Valais to meet up with the locals and learn that you can get all of the benefits of the giant resorts without the queues and extortionate prices.

Région Dents du Midi

Photo: Local Olympian Camilla Berra tearing down the Swiss Wall moguls. Photo: Ryan Van Kesteren

Technically the largest ski area in Switzerland, as it’s part of the Swiss – French giant that is Les Portes du Soleil, you’ve got a whopping 600 km of pistes spread between 12 different resorts all accessible from the Région Dents du Midi. This means you’ve got a mighty fine range of terrain to select from, whatever your ability level. It’s impossible to get bored here.

“You’ve got a whopping 600 km of pistes spread between 12 different resorts”

We met up with local ripper and Swiss Olympian Camilla Berra to get her best spots in the area. Camilla is a born and bred Champéry local, most known for her appearance in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where she competed in the Slopestyle event. Before showing off her style in the air, Camilla had a specific run to get us warmed up on…

Photo: Skiing the Swiss Wall moguls / Top of the Champery gondola. Photo: Ryan Van Kesteren / Jordan Tiernan

Région Dents du Midi is known for the “Pas de Chavanette” or the Swiss Wall to you and I. The Swiss Wall is a kilometre long vertical drop of mogul heaven for all you locked-knees mogul skiing aficionados. Now a single kilometre may seem measly at first but consider that the Swiss Wall drops away 400 metres with gradients of up to 40 degrees at the top, and you’ll soon realise that this isn’t some plucky nursery number.

Head to Région Dents du Midi if the 400km and 104km of piste in Nendaz and Aletsch Arena just aren’t enough.


Photo: Arial footage of the top of the 4 Vallées – Mont Fort. Photo: Jordan Tiernan

News just in: There’s a much better way of visiting the freeride Mecca that is Verbier. This (not so) secret way offers up quieter lifts, with some awesome skiing on its own side of the valley. Nendaz is based right in the middle of the giant ski resort of the 4 Vallées and although there’s a great deal of talk about the easily accessible freeride available from this resort, Nendaz is a real multi-talented resort.

After arriving at Nendaz and meeting with local mountain guide Fabian, we soon started to think about freeride, so we headed straight for the very top of the 4 Vallées – Mont Fort. This 3,328 metre must-see summit holds one of the greatest views in the alps, a true 360 degree panorama covering some of the most famous mountains in the world. Look a little closer to home and you’ll spot the infamous face of Bec de Rosses – the final stop on the revered Freeride World Tour.

Pictured: The Nendaz Freeride is considered the pinnacle event on the Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) calendar. Photo:

The possibilities are pretty endless here, certainly enough resort skiing and ski touring to keep even the most keen skiers going for a lifetime. If you’d rather sit in a deck chair and watch some of the best skiers in the world ski some of this terrain at breakneck speed (who wouldn’t) then plan your trip around one of the popular freeride events that Nendaz and the 4 Vallées hosts:

Head to Nendaz to be amongst some of the finest freeride terrain in the world.

Aletsch Arena

Pictured: Evening sunlight setting over Bettmeralp. Photo: Jordan Tiernan

Crossing over the “Röstigraben” – literally translating to “Rösti ditch”, where the language changes from Swiss-French, to Swiss-German – you approach Aletsch Arena in the east end of Valais. This resort consisting of the three car-free villages of Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp sits high up in the valley.

Quite possibly one of the most under-appreciated ski resorts in Switzerland (yeah, we went there), Aletsch Arena is a real heaven for those of you who prefer to tear down the pistes on sub 70 mm race sticks or go carving on very specific boards. Saying that, we’re not quite sure what’s the most appealing thing about Aletsch Arena; those pistes, or the view… The. View. Is. Amazing.

Photo: Carving the pristine pistes found in Bettmeralp. Photo: Ryan Van Kesteren

Aletsch Arena prides itself on its perfect piste preparation. While other ski resorts are doing a quick once over with their piste machines, Bettmeralp are doing a second take with the piste basher to get the perfect corduroy pattern on the snow. I pride myself on always looking to escape the resort boundaries at any cost, but Aletsch Arena was one of the few places that had me wanting to leave my rucksack back at the hotel just so I could rip down their beautifully pisted rolling terrain with that jaw-dropping backdrop.

Aletsch Arena don’t just talk the talk, either. In 2018 they were winners of the coveted 2018 ‘Best Ski Resort Awards‘, taking first place in the piste preparation / piste quality and relaxation categories.

Head to Aletsch Arena for fast-paced, yet crowd-free piste goodness.

Do It Yourself

Being typically Swiss, there’s some great train connections throughout the whole upper Rhone Valley, allowing you to switch trains or grab a transfer up to each resort. Geneva, Zurich, and if you’re lucky, Sion are all ideal airports to access the upper Rhone valley.

Book your Valais winter trip at

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