WELCOME TO YOUR HIGH ALPINE WORLD OF ADVENTURES
Nature, adventure and sustainability are in great demand. After
having been through a challenging time, we crave natural
moments of happiness more than ever. We are all looking
for places where we can recharge our batteries, experience
new things with our loved ones, discover, learn or achieve our
goals. With its fascinating glacier worlds in the midst of Switzerland’s
highest mountains, the Saas Valley offers the ideal
conditions to enjoy exactly these pursuits – for every passion
and for every requirement. This is because Saas-Fee/Saastal
is THE high alpine world of adventures!
I look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful region.
Matthias Supersaxo, Tourism Director Saas-Fee/Saastal
Frankfurt (534 km)
München (521 km)
Basel (228 km)
Zürich (246 km)
Bern (120 km)
The ticket for
With the BLS car transport to Valais
Genf (226 km)
YOUR JOURNEY TO THE SAAS VALLEY
Whether by car or by public transport: the Saas-Fee/Saastal
holiday region is easily accessible from anywhere in Switzerland.
There are direct train connections from all major Swiss
cities to Visp. From there, you can then take bus 511 on to the
Saas Valley. Practically speaking, we may be at the southernmost
tip of Switzerland, but your route to us couldn’t be
easier: just one change along the way, and unique scenery is
included free of charge! The journey takes three hours from
Zurich, Geneva and Basle and just two from Berne. Those arriving
by car will find plenty of parking spaces for car-free
Saas-Fee in the large multistorey car park right at the entrance
to the village.
Milano (186 km)
A SUMMIT FIRMLY IN WOMEN’S HANDS
In June, Saas-Fee transforms into a hotspot for
women’s mountain sports: 60 women from all over
the world climb the Allalinhorn together. Among
them is mountain guide Elsie Trichot Lemordant.
Text: Patrick Gasser
Images: Elsie Trichot Lemordant / Amarcster Media
Making women visible in mountain and outdoor sports. That is
the goal of the initiative ‘100% Women’. Switzerland Tourism
launched the project last year on International Women’s Day.
Despite the pandemic, 700 female climbers from 20 countries
mastered all 48 Swiss four-thousand-metre peaks. The women
summiteers thus became role models for women all over
Now the project is entering its second round. And the
Saas Valley is playing a central role in this. And it’s no wonder:
18 of 48 four-thousand-metre peaks in the Swiss Alps
are located here, or can at least be seen from here. The venue
for this special kind of Peak Challenge is the Allalinhorn.
The 4,027 metre-high local mountain of Saas-Fee becomes
the pièce de résistance for a world record attempt: around 60
women are expected to climb the peak together between 15
and 17 June. Quite the symbolic undertaking: there has probably
never before been such a long women’s rope team.
A pleasing development
This is also confirmed by the two partner organisations – the
Swiss Mountain Guides Association and the Swiss Alpine
Club SAC – which are behind the project together with
Switzerland Tourism, Saas-Fee/Saastal Tourism and the
outdoor brand Mammut. ‘To the best of my knowledge,
never before in the history of mountain sports have so many
women joined forces to climb a peak together. And so it is all
the more gratifying that this record is being set in Switzerland’,
says historian Marie-France Hendrikx.
Burnaby and Niquille
Women are also taking the lead on the summit tour. The number
of female guides is growing. Nevertheless, in 2021, out
of 1,556 Swiss mountain guides, just 42 were women. Nicole
Niquille was the first woman to successfully complete the
physically and mentally demanding training in 1986. The history
of alpinism is predominantly shaped by men – and yet it
is more feminine than many think: be it in skirts or harem trousers
and being smirked at by their male competitors, some
women achieved top alpine performances as early as the 19th
century. For example, Elizabeth Burnaby Main Le Blond from
Great Britain (1861–1934). As a 20-year-old, she ventured on
an expedition for the first time. She made 26 first ascents, including
the east peak of the Bishorn. In 1907, she became the
first president of the British Ladies’ Alpine Club.
From the business world to the mountains
One of the female mountain guides who has a firm grip on the
rope for the ‘100% Women’ project on the Allalinhorn is Elsie
Trichot Lemordant. ‘I am happy to show women in my work
that alpinism is just as much fun for us as it is for men’, says
the mother of a two-year-old son. She grew up in Grenoble,
France, and stood on the summit of Mont Blanc at the age of
13. As her inner fire burned, Elsie’s dream job become crystal
clear: she wanted to become a mountain guide since her teenage
years. ‘Discover the world’, as she says herself. The journey
to get there was by no means straightforward: she studied
international management in Paris and started a career in the
business world, which took her to various countries.
Today she lives in Sion, Switzerland. ‘The call of the
mountains grew stronger’, says Elsie. In 2015, she dedicated
herself entirely to training to become a mountain guide.
In 2018, she passed the demanding certification exam set by
the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations
(IFMGA). ‘Make your life a dream, and the dream a reality’, is a
quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the creator of ‘The Little
Prince’. Elsie did just that.
Stories like Elsie Trichot’s are meant to inspire and
encourage women all over the world to do new things.
With the Women’s Peak Challenge, those responsible want
to give alpinism a much more feminine touch. ‘90 per cent
of alpinists are still men’, says Elsie. ‘But women’s rope
teams often have a healthy group dynamic. You quickly
sense a willingness to help each other and the group
members inspire each other. ’ In the future – so hope
Elsie and those responsible for “100% Women” – even more
women should follow the call of the mountains.’
More information on
100% Women Peak Challenge
A summit firmly in women’s hands
Elsie Trichot Lemordant
From seasonal worker to aviation pioneer
Family activities & biking
Murmeli Trail, Mittelallalin Adventure Terrace, Bike Skills Park, Flow Trail
Review of the Olympic Winter Games
Family activities – insider tips
Kreuzboden playground, Saas-Almagell treasure hunt, ‘Hinner de Zy’ barbecue area, Eddie our mascot
Gsponer Höhenweg, Monte Moro Pass
Saastal Märliwucha, SaasFeestival, Saaser Gaumengaudi, Mattmark Memorial Half-Marathon
A moated castle and true powerhouse
Via Ferrata Britannia, Bouldering, Glacier Experience Tour, My 1st and 2nd Four-Thousand-Metre Peaks
Limitless – with an E-MTB up the Strahlhorn
Erich and Beni Kälin
With Frederik Kalbermatten and Christelle Anthamatten
Mountain huts & mountain restaurants
Hannig and Almagell high trail
How a valley wants to protect its glaciers
The region as a pioneer in climate protection
IT MIT BERG-
Impulsgeber für Informatik.
VISIT OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL
Would you like to get an insight into our hiker’s paradise? Do
you know Karin Huber, who was trained as the first female
ropeway technician in Switzerland? Do you know how snow
is made? How is a glacier village like Saas-Fee experiencing
climate change? You can find insights into this and other exciting
stories on our YouTube channel. Feel inspired by our
holiday region and enjoy the four-thousand-metre peaks of
the Saas Valley – from the comfort of your sofa. You can find
more impressions on our additional social media channels.
Have fun watching!
Our most beautiful stories await
you on the playlist ‘4545’!
Editor: Saastal Tourismus AG | Editorial direction: Mattia Storni and Patrick Gasser
Editorial: Patrick Gasser | Picture editor: Isabelle Krummenacher | Graphic design: Isabelle Krummenacher
Photography: Puzzle Media, Frederik Kalbermatten, Amarcster Media, levin.studio, Elsie Trichot Lemordant,
Switzerland Tourism, Lorenz Richard, Mario Heller, Christelle Anthamatten, swiss_voyage, Alberto @swiss
Cover image: Weissmies North Ridge with the summit in the background
Wir regeln das für Sie.
Kantonsstrasse 51, 3902 Glis
Telefon 027 922 10 10, firstname.lastname@example.org
FROM SEASONAL WORKER TO AVIATION PIONEER
As a teenager, Jack Mullner cleaned holiday apartments
in Saas-Fee in the evenings so that he could
go skiing during the day. The ‘Chalet Boy’ of yesteryear
is one of the most talented drone pilots on the
action sports scene today.
Text: Patrick Gasser
Images: Puzzle Media
It is already late in the day. Only the bars on the village street
still have their lights on. And in the Puzzle Media office, too.
Here, Jack Mullner (29) has fulfilled a dream together with
his brother Jamie (31). Between Chinese instant noodle dishes
and beer, Jack cuts the printed analogue photos to size. It
won’t be long before the first photo exhibition takes centre
stage at the Puzzle Media House. Six professionals are working
together here. Self-employed copywriters, consultants
and, in the evening, tattoo artists. Time and again, holiday
guests also rent workspaces in the co-working space for days
at a time. Zoom calls after skiing. Working to meet deadlines
after the climbing tour.
2010. The ski trousers were wide, the jackets colourful.
Jack Mullner has just finished school. ‘I just wanted to go skiing’,
he recalls. At 17, he came to Saas-Fee from Kent, a town
in the south-east of England. And he went skiing. Every single
day. He earned his money as a ‘Chalet Boy’: Jack cleaned
holiday apartments. Twice he left Saas-Fee in spring. Then he
went on to stay here, and the seasonal worker became more
and more of a mountain man.
First DJ, then entrepreneur
When GoPro released its first action camera, Jack bought
one of these compact devices. He filmed his friends skiing,
and edited his first videos. Jack established his first contacts
through his DJ gigs in the village bars. This led to his being
commissioned for jobs for the first time – promo clips for holiday
apartments and hotels. ‘I thought,’ Jack tells me, ‘maybe I
can do this professionally.’ And that marked the birth of Puzzle
Today, companies such as RedBull, Samsung and the
ski manufacturer Faction count among Puzzle Media’s clientele.
Jack still puts his friends from Saas-Fee in front of his
lens from time to time. Along with Olympic champions like
Ayumu Hirano. When the Japanese skier performed his first
triple cork in the halfpipe on the Fee glacier in autumn 2021,
Jack was there with his drone.
Fredi K, the perfectionist
Jack’s collaboration with Frederik Kalbermatten (41) opened
the door to the world of snowboarders and freeskiers. For over
two decades, the exceptional talent from Saas-Fee dazzled
the scene with all his tricks. At some point, Jack and Jamie
Mullner were also out and about with Fredi in the glacier world
of Saas-Fee. Fredi still spends days building his ski jumps. For
example, over huge crevasses or through séracs. Fredi always
finds something new: ‘That’s what makes working with him so
exciting. He is a perfectionist. He puts a lot of time and work
into the preparation.’, says Jack.
There is also little of the film crew’s strenuous work to be seen
There are limits to freedom. Always further,
always cheaper, always better: drones have
gained significantly in terms of their popularity
in recent years. However, anyone who
has bought a flying machine for the first
time should be aware that their neighbour
will not necessarily be happy if the flying
machine – complete with camera – flies over
their hedge. In mountainous regions such
as the Saas Valley, drones can also become
a problem for helicopters or paragliders.
Therefore, the aircraft are only operated
by laymen without special training on
a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) basis only.
In addition, minimum distances must be
maintained for cable cars, for example.
in the finished clips. Jack remembers a shoot that took him to
the summit of the Strahlhorn. Jack spent ten hours on the road
with his camera equipment. ‘The tripod alone weighed 15 kilograms.
I didn’t use it’, he says and laughs. A single shot resulted
from this ten-hour feat. ‘Still, it was a great day’, says Jack.
The photos for the exhibition are cropped. He still
wants to touch up the lighting for the picture frames the next
day. For the layman, it is impossible to see what bothers Jack.
Like the athletes he captures on camera, Jack is also
a perfectionist. ‘The equipment is getting ever cheaper. What
remains crucial in what we do is creativity and quality’, says
Jack. ‘So, you’re forced to keep evolving. And that’s what excites
Right at the heart of the action, and not just on the edge
There is a small drone on the table in front of the large shopwindow.
The aircraft weighs just 1.5 kilograms. Jack soldered
them together himself with components from the internet. It
can fly up to 130 kilometres per hour. But the highlight is sat
right next to this nimble flying machine: FPV goggles. Through
this, Jack sees the images from the mounted GoPro camera
in real time and can control the aircraft with absolute precision.
FPV stands for ‘First-person view’. ‘It’s like I’m in the air
myself’, says Jack. This technology has revolutionised drone
photography in recent years. ‘It used to be just a toy. At some
point, someone must have come up with the idea of using
these drones with the appropriate cameras for action sports
footage’, says Jack. ‘That was a real game changer.’ Jack is one
of the first people to fly through the glacier world of Saas-Fee
with an FPV drone.
Jack Mullner (left) captures the Saas Valley from above with his drone.
Drone video Indian Summer
Thanks to the FPV drone, the spectators also feel as if they are
right in the middle of the action. For example, when freeriders
descend steep mountain slopes on the Freeride World Tour. Or
when Jack tracks the best freestylers with his drone in October
during the Stomping Grounds Camp on the Fee glacier. But
Jack also loves the nature that makes up Saas-Fee: ‘My favourite
places to fly are the glaciers of the Fee glacier or along the
Mischabel chain.’ His drone reaches up to the 4,545-metre-high
‘Dom’, the massif’s main summit. The device can also fly into deep
glacier caves. ‘Sometimes, I get a bit nervous’, says Jack. “But
I have to stay calm: because I cannot afford to make mistakes.
If the drone crashes, I’ll never see it again.’
1: Allalin – Highlight
2: Längfluh – Glacier world
3: Spielboden – Home of the marmots
4: Hannig – A sunny mountain
5: Kreuzboden – A family mountain
6: Hohsaas – Adrenaline & a view
7: Furggstalden and Heidbodmen – A place to recover
8: Mattmark Dam – A place to recharge
ON THE TRAIL OF THE
They are probably the sweetest ambassadors of the Saas
Valley: the colonies of marmots at Spielboden and Stafelwald
show a particular trust in humans. Since summer 2021, Spielboden
has had its own family-friendly themed trail leading
through the marmots’ habitat. Together with Eddie the marmot,
the hikers learn a lot of information about this cute subspecies
of gopher. The circular trail leads from the Spielboden mountain
station into the marmot region. On seven panels, Eddie
provides some great insight into the life of his family. And with
a bit of luck, you will also meet them on the way. The marmots
especially like anyone with peanuts, dandelions or carrots.
And everyone will find a place in their hearts for these
friendly critters. Nevertheless, you should know that these are
wild animals and not for cuddling. And so, with that in mind:
quietly approach with caution and leave them alone in their
burrows. Photos should also only be taken without flash.
Discover the adventure worlds on p. 10
FAMILY FUN ON TWO
Anyone who has ever ventured onto a bike trail knows exactly
how much joy there is in store when everything is in ‘flow’. To
make it easier for children and other newcomers to enter the
world of mountain biking, three short trails have been in place
on Kreuzboden above Saas-Grund since 2021. The three
routes – each with different levels of difficulty – are roughly
400 metres long. You can get to the start line quite easily via
a carpet lift. The Bike Skills Park is located just a few metres
from the Hohsaas mountain railway station on Kreuzboden.
New in summer 2022, bike rental will also be offered directly
on location by the Saas-Fee Guides. Thanks to the beautiful
mountain lake and the adventure playground in the immediate
vicinity, an unforgettable family day is guaranteed. In the
midst of the impressive mountain world at 2,400 metres above
sea level, mountain bikers can hone their skills on two wheels
with maximum excitement along the way.
The Skills Park, however, is not only tailored to children.
It also offers adults the opportunity to safely approach mountain
biking and test their personal limits.
Discover the adventure worlds on p. 10
WHERE WINTER SPENDS
In just 40 minutes, you can escape the summer heat in the
valley. That’s how long it takes to ride the mountain railways
from Saas-Fee up into the high mountains. Here, the
snow lies on the ground all year round. The best skiers
and snowboarders train here, even in high summer. And
this is where the fascinating journey into the depths of
the Fee glacier begins. Sculptor Pascal has created fascinating
works of art out of ice in the glacier grotto, which
is accessible from the Mittelallalin mountain station. The ice pavilion
is both an art exhibition and a scientific excursion in one.
Go two floors up and you will find the highest revolving
restaurant in the world. It takes an hour to complete
one revolution here. There is time to enjoy the
view of the surrounding four-thousand-metre peaks and
as far as the Italian metropolis of Milan. But the excursion
destination of Allalin is also the setting for one of the
most breathtaking sunrises in the world. This is precisely
the kind of experience you should not miss out on when
visiting in summer. Of course, such an early morning trip also
includes a hearty breakfast in the revolving restaurant. Those
who want to go even higher can also climb the Allalin, 500
metres higher, together with a mountain guide. The tour to the
4,027-metre-high Allalinhorn is considered the easiest summit
in terms of what the Alps have to offer. From the summer of
2022, the Adventure Terrace will also offer a good dose of adventure
for little ones: be it slackline, snow groomer simulator
or CUPRA Bobby Car.
Discover the adventure worlds on p. 10
1,600 VERTICAL METERS –
WHO OFFERS MORE?
If you choose to saddle up at 3,200 metres above sea level,
you can rejoice in the knowledge that: from the glacier
world on the Hohsaas at the foot of the Weissmies,
you’ll descend a whole 1,600 metres in altitude
to Saas-Grund. Directly at the gondola station, the route
descends over flowing, natural trails to Kreuzboden. But
beware: the upper part of this near-endless descent requires
some skill. Further down on Kreuzboden, a short
stop at the mountain lake is worthwhile. Around three kilometres
of trail have been newly created from here down to
Triftalp. Another ten kilometres have been adapted to the
needs of mountain bikers. The specialists from Flying Metal
GmbH have designed the ‘Adventure Trail’ to a medium
difficulty spec, with technical elements such as stone passages
or roots. This trail merges almost seamlessly with the
mountain bike trail from Triftalp to Saas-Grund. This provides
mountain bikers with a route accessed by the gondola lifts at
over 1,600 metres in altitude.
And the Saas Valley also has a lot to offer in the way
of flowing mountain bike trails. Trendy magazines from the
industry rave about this ‘Wild West’ of downhill biking, and
speak of a true paradise for enduro mountain bikers. And it’s
no wonder: with 80 kilometres of perfectly marked-out trails,
the Saas Valley is ideal for mountain biking. Everyone will find
their favourite route here. Be it simple or demanding. Not only
this: In the Saas Valley, you can rent high-quality bikes – with
or without power boost – as well as tours led by local guides.
Discover the adventure worlds on p. 10
For Hollywood stars, it’s the red carpet, for the snow
sporting elite, it’s the summer ski area of Saas-Fee.
No fewer than 64 medal winners from the 2022 Winter
Olympics train here regularly.
Text: Patrick Gasser
Image: Amarcster Media
Summer ski area Saas-Fee
In Saas-Fee, winter begins in summer. It is exactly when freshly
mown mountain grass dries into hay in the sun here that the
stars are training 1,800 metres above sea level. In the morning,
they train on the Fee glacier. Looking for the perfect set-up
in equipment and an edge on the competition. Down in the
valley – where the ski instructors wait for their students in
winter – they lift weights and play football. Saas-Fee is the
natural retreat for the sport’s elite on one or two boards over
the summer months.
Halfpipe skiers, alpine snowboarders. Marco Odermatt
and Mikaela Shiffrin. Swiss and American female athletes.
For all of them, the Fee glacier has become a fixed
point in the preparation calendar for the World Cup season.
Just a 40-minute ride on the mountain railways separates
high summer from winter here. ‘Saas-Fee is difficult to top
in terms of the preparation phase‘, says, for example, the twotime
Olympic medallist from Beijing, Federica Brignone (31,
ITA): ‘In the morning, I find exactly the conditions I need on
the glacier and, in the afternoon, I can play tennis in the village.’
Moreover, it is an extremely familiar atmosphere in Saas-
Fee – people know each other.
Start of training: 5.00 a.m.
And it’s no wonder: Up to 1,000 athletes trained on the glacier
slopes and in the snow park in autumn 2021. Among them
were many young talents from the regional bases in Switzerland
and abroad. The closer the start of the competition season
gets in autumn, the more poles you’ll see stuck on the
slopes at the foot of the Allalin. Then, the trainers set out at
5.00 a.m. with headlamps and flag down their courses before
the first rays of sunlight. On some slopes, there are 15 giant
slalom runs side by side in October. In order to avoid chaos,
these are distributed in a kind of stock exchange process at
the coaches’ meeting the day before. And some coaches then
no longer use red and blue goal flags, but use other colours
And not quite as early as the alpine skiers and snowboarders,
you’ll find the freestylers making their entrance on
the mountain. Every autumn, Australian Charles Beckinsale
and his crew build a top-class snowpark on the Fee glacier.
The dimensions are enormous: the superpipe is over 120 metres
long, and its icy walls are almost seven metres high. This
is where American snowboarding legend Shaun White prepared
for the final competition of his career. It was here that
his heir apparent, Ayumu Hirano (Japan), learned the trick that
won him the gold medal.
World premieres by the metre
The triple cork in Hirano’s halfpipe was a ‘world first’. A trick
that was performed for the very first time. Just a few years ago,
this was not considered possible. But it’s moments like these
that drive Charles Beckinsale and his crew to work 20-hour
shifts on the Fee glacier: ‘When we see what the athletes can
deliver on our jumps, rails and in the pipe, it motivates us to
give our best time and again’, says Beckinsale.
Olympic champion Gremaud: ‘Best training conditions’
Mathilde Gremaud also landed a ‘world first’ in the autumn of
2020: she was the first woman to perform a ‘switch double cork
1440’ in Saas-Fee. The native of Fribourg says: ‘The snowpark
here offers me the best training conditions: the approaches
to the kickers are steep and the runs long.’ In
February 2022, she returned from the Winter Olympics in China
with a gold medal in slopestyle. She took the bronze in the
Big Air competition.
The examples of Gremaud, Brignone or Hirano are not
isolated cases. A total of 64 medals from Beijing 2022 went
to athletes who train regularly in Saas-Fee. In 2018, the figure
was 41. And here’s another comparison: Norway, the most
successful nation at the Games in China, won a total of 37
From 16 July onwards, the Saas-Fee summer ski area
will be open again. And not just for world-class athletes (and
those who would like to become one). The unique experience
of a ski day in high summer is also worthwhile for ‘normal’ winter
Information about the summer ski area
FROM THE LARCH FOREST TO THE GLACIER
E-mountain biking could not be more varied: the
tour leads from Saas-Balen through wonderful larch
forests and up to the ‘Grüebu’ glacier at 2,860
metres above sea level.
Image: Puzzle Media
When the traces of winter clear, their work begins:
a team of the Saas-Fee Guides takes care of an
extensive network of hiking trails in Saas-Fee. Behind
the beautifully kept hiking trails, hundreds of
hours of hard manual labour have been invested.
Text: Patrick Gasser
Images: Puzzle Media / Switzerland Tourism / Lorenz Richard
‘You are standing at the end of the world
and yet at the same time at its origin, at its
beginning and in its centre.’ Carl Zuckmayer
fell in love with Saas-Fee back in 1938.
20 years later, the writer moved here and
stayed until his death in 1977. At the origin,
in the middle and at the end: the men who
maintain the network of hiking trails in the
Saas Valley can often be found. Hoes and
rakes carry them for kilometres at a time.
When the snow melts away in spring, the
work begins for the two mountain guides
Marc Derivaz and Michi Schwarzl, as well
as Félicien Pépin and Patrick Gracey. They
and the other teams from the municipalities
in the Saas Valley are the first to hit
the trails in spring. And in autumn, the last.
As a team, they clear away the remnants of
winter on the network of hiking trails in the
Saas-Fee/Saastal holiday region.
Over 350 kilometres of trails wind through the Saas Valley.
Along mountain streams, glaciers and four-thousand-metre
peaks. It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for a personal
challenge or just peace and quiet: there are great prospects
for everyone. Countless challenges also await the team that
handles the maintenance of this network of hiking trails. ‘You
have to see the problems, in order to recognise them’, says
Marc Derivaz, who is starting his third season in trail maintenance.
He is part of the team of the local outdoor service
Saas-Fee Guides, which is responsible for maintaining the
trail network in Saas-Fee for the municipality.
Bridge transport complete with helicopter
The storms in the winter months knock down trees. Avalanches
wash wood and debris onto the hiking trails. In spring, meltwater
erodes sections of the paths in some places. In summer,
heavy thundershowers batter the paths. Then the men behind
Marc Derivaz rebuild the damaged sections of path, step
by step. ‘Our job is mainly manual labour’, Marc explains. On
foot, we follow the hiking trails. Meanwhile, they also reach
some sections with e-mountain bikes – and rarely with an
off-road vehicle. Marc Derivaz’s team is also responsible for 17
bridges. Six of them will be taken to their destination by helicopter
in spring. And taken away again in autumn. Otherwise,
they would become damaged in winter by the huge masses of
snow – or washed away completely by avalanches.
As extensive as the hiking trail network in the Saas
Valley is, so is the team around Marc Derivaz versatile: some
are mountain guides, while others work as ski instructors in
winter. Marc and his team can sense the change happening
on the mountain. Less snow in winter. More hot days in summer.
Work with the guests on the mountain is becoming more
demanding. Marc doesn’t like to complain about it. He learned
early on to work with and not against nature. ‘Our boss is nature‘,
Marc says pragmatically. ‘She sets the pace.’
A back-breaking job
And in any case: Marc Derivaz does not like to put himself
in the foreground: ‘I’m more the quiet creator.’ There is the
temptation to romanticise his job as a trailblazer for the hikers:
At dawn, the teams make their way through the larch forests.
This view, this peace before the hiking season. But Marc
warns: ‘It’s a back-breaking job. ’ They carry their equipment
for up to twelve kilometres on the longest section of the Höhenweg
Grächen. With the motorised trimmer, they climb up
to the forest line to mow bushes and scrub. Rake, trimmer
and a canister with five litres of petrol weigh heavily on the
shoulders. A working day in the field can then last a good ten
hours. In spring, they clean and repair after the melting snow
has disappeared. In autumn, they clear away signposts, cables
and benches along the paths before the first big winter
storm renders the paths impassable in October.
Maintaining the hiking trail network is hard work.
But the work is not done there: throughout the summer, a
team of Saas-Fee Guides is out and about. ‘No sooner are
the hiking trails ready for the season than the mowing work
begins’, says Marc. If there is a threat of heavy thunderstorms,
the trailblazers make sure that the rain gutters on the paths
are free of debris: ‘Scraping the drains free is tedious. But it
is much worse when the water literally eats away the paths
because it cannot run off’.
The joy of hikers
Nevertheless, Marc appreciates his job. Working in a team
where everyone can rely on each other is what he likes best.
And what is more: ‘It does us good to see how hikers enjoy
our network of trails.’ Marc’s experience as a mountain guide
comes in handy in his work maintaining the trail network: He
knows how to move in rough terrain. Where hiking trails are
not yet open to hikers, dangers such as falling rocks or wet
snow avalanches lurk. ‘It is important to always find out if the
trail is open or closed before you go hiking’, says Marc.
More on the subject of hiking:
Mountain guide Marc Derivaz and his team are responsible
for maintaining the hiking trails in Saas-Fee.
THESE INSIDER TIPS
AWAIT VISITING FAMILIES
COME ENJOY WITH US
New playground in Kreuzboden
Bike Skills Park for the whole family, mountain lake with ferry,
monster scooter and petting zoo: the Kreuzboden above
Saas-Grund is an ideal destination for an active family outing.
Kids can look forward to a newly designed adventure playground
for the 2022 summer season. There is a lot to discover
and try out there: be it on suspension bridges, climbing walls
or other equipment. There are also many interesting things to
discover in the water park.
Treasure hunt in Saas-Almagell’s larch forest
Together on the trail of mystery: using the tools available at the Saas
Tourism offices, family members get to solve the riddles of Furggstalden
together. You can reach the starting point conveniently
by chairlift from Saas-Almagell. The treasure hunt leads
across eight posts – each family member has to do their bit
so that the trophy can be recovered at the end. The special
highlight: the family learns interesting facts about the habitat
in the larch forest and receives a surprise to take home at the
Discover the adventure worlds on p. 10
I’m Eddie the marmot.
Nice of you to visit me in the Saas Valley.
‘Hinner de Zy’ barbecue area
A successful family holiday in the Saas mountains naturally
includes a barbecue together. Numerous fireplaces with wood
provided offer the perfect opportunity for this. The ‘Hinner
de Zy’ barbecue area near Stafelwald has been redesigned for
this summer. Directly by the fireplaces, the glacier water here
ripples at a leisurely pace through ‘Suonen’ – irrigation canals
– in the direction of Saaservispa river. Not only is it perfect
for chilling drinks, but it’s also a great play opportunity for the
Embark on a culinary journey of pleasure
in the Saaser-Stube Saas-Fee. Dine on
regional delicacies, vegetarian and vegan
specialities, our famous Saasi Burger, and
even experience an exclusive flambé service
at the guest table. Flambéed fillet of
beef ‘Woronow’ according to an old recipe,
flambéed fillet of lamb, crêpes Suzette or
an original Viennese veal escalope are prepared
for you directly at the table. What is
a good meal without the right wine? On our
wine list, you will find the finest bottles from
the Valais and Europe.
+41 27 958 98 98
belMont Apart Lodge & Restaurant
Our restaurant and our three apartments
are located directly at the Kalbermatten
sports field. Cordon bleu is both our
speciality and our passion. Our terrace,
complete with a beautiful mountain view,
invites you to savour the moment.
You are most welcome.
+41 27 530 12 28
The new restaurant 1659 offers its guests
the best Swiss and French cuisine. We
focus very strongly on regional products
and sustainability. Indulge your palate
with veal from the Chum-Ssä-Ssä stables
in Saas-Almagell, or enjoy exquisite fish
caught fresh from the pond on our garden
terrace. We round off the offer with
our vegetarian and vegan dishes. For every
foodie out there, Restaurant 1659 is a must!
+41 27 958 17 00
Eddie – our very own mascot
On the ‘Murmeliweg’ marmot trail at Spielboden, Eddie talks
about the everyday life of his fellow marmots in a way that is
suitable for children. The fluffy mascot of the Saas-Fee/Saastal
holiday region is also an ideal souvenir to pass the time
until your next holiday.
A CLASSIC AMONG KINGS
Here, you always have the Mischabel Mountains
in view and get to come close to Valais Blacknose
sheep: the Gsponer Höhenweg is one of the most
impressive hikes in the Saas Valley.
Text: Patrick Gasser
Image: Puzzle Media
A small gondola runs from the station in Stalden in the direction
of Gspon. This is the starting point for one of the most
beautiful high-altitude trails in Switzerland. And it is also
home to the highest football pitch in Europe. It is quite possible
that some of the best free-kick takers ever grow up here.
Anyone who blasts the ball over the fence here is unlikely to
find it again in this steep, sloping terrain.
The first section of the high-altitude trail is more leisurely
than the search for the football in Gspon. Only from the
hamlet of Oberfinilu does the wide path become a narrow hiking
trail. The route alternates through forest and open spaces.
The Gsponer Höhenweg starts quite comfortably on a
wide farm track. Just right for a warm-up. Only from the hamlet
of Oberfinilu does the path turn into a narrow hiking trail.
The view frees up to reveal the almost 3,800-metre-high Balfrin,
which lies to the west of Saas-Balen. But the view during
the hike not only falls on the impressive mountains. It is not
unusual to be surprised by the tinkling of bells from genuine
locals: these being Valais Blacknose sheep. Even before the
Romans, this breed came to the valleys of the Upper Valais –
and today, it is just as typical of the region as raclette cheese
and ‘Genepie’ – alpine herbal liqueur with glacier wormwood.
The next ascent takes you to Siwiboden. It’s worth taking
a break here for the magnificent view. This is because the
path stretches for a total of five hours over a good 14 kilometres.
A soothing, cooling effect
Siwiboden is followed by the Linde Bodu. What’s important
here: you should definitely keep an eye on the time, in order
to catch the last mountain railway to Kreuzboden. This saves
you almost 1,000 metres of descent to Saas-Grund. If there is
not enough time, you can already start the descent directly
to Saas-Balen or Saas-Grund via another trail option. If you
make it to Kreuzboden, a soothing footbath awaits you at the
However, this footbath has to be worked hard for
again on the last section. This is because here, the hike becomes
challenging once more with a section of trail that leads
through a boulder landscape.
Time requirement: approx. 5 hours
Route: 14 kilometres
Metres in altitude uphill: 740m
Metres in altitude downhill: 236m
Highest point: 2,470 m above sea level
Lowest point: 1,865 m above sea level
Great views: from the larch forest, the view
of the imposing mountain scenery is unobstructed.
THE SMUGGLER’S ROUTE
For centuries, the Monto Moro Pass was an
important route for trade between north and south.
Even today, this period of history can be felt.
Text: Patrick Gasser
Image: Frederik Kalbermatten
Anyone visiting the Italian municipality of Macugnaga for the
first time will immediately notice the log cabin-style houses.
Family names like ‘Zurbriggen’ or ‘Anthamatten’ do not sound
typically Italian either. And indeed: in the 12th century, entire
families emigrated from the Saas Valley over the Monte Moro
Pass to what is now the province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola.
For hundreds of years, the language and culture remained
similar to those on the other side of the Monte Moro Pass.
Those who set out on this cross-border hike today
from the Mattmark Dam do so on the same stone slabs as
smugglers have done for hundreds of years. Salt, wine,
cheese, sheep – and later on even cigarettes found their
way over the pass. The people of Saas bought jewellery and
cooking utensils from the traders at the weekly market in
The hike begins on the circular trail around Lake Mattmark.
Embedded in an impressive mountain backdrop, the
water glistens in the most beautiful emerald shades. Hikers
leave the mostly asphalted path at the Distel Alp at the end of
From there, a well-marked hiking trail climbs to Tälliboden,
a pretty moorland. The scenery further up to the Golden
Madonna is rugged. Here, you walk along the remains of
the centuries-old paved mule track. The statue ‘Maria zum
Schnee’ is of great significance for the inhabitants on both
sides of the pass. A cross-border pilgrimage mass is held here
on 5 August every year. The statue is enthroned at the top of
the pass with a view towards Italy.
Not far from the top of the pass is the station of the
gondola lift to Macugnaga. A detour to eat pizza in the Walser
village is always worthwhile. The way back takes you via the
same route as the ascent to Monte Moro Pass. If you want to
return the same day, however, be sure to follow the timetable
of the mountain railway back up. The same applies to the
bus timetable from the dam crest at Lake Mattmark back to
Time requirement: approx. 5
hours, there and back
Route: 14.5 kilometres
Metres in altitude uphill: 642m
Metres in altitude downhill: 642m
Highest point: 2,840 m above sea level
Lowest point: 2,200 m above sea level
On the historic route to the Monte Moro Pass,
you always have Lake Mattmark in view.
17 – 21 JULY
Between 17 and 21 July, numerous places in the Saas Valley
transform into a world of stories and fables. During this time,
both big and small fans of fables are again completely in their
element. The ‘Saastal Märliwucha’ offers treasure hunts and
dwarf riddles in the wonderful Saas mountain world. There
is no better place than this picturesque setting, which could
itself have been penned by the Brothers Grimm.
4 – 25 SEPTEMBER
Under the motto ‘Saaser Gaumengaudi’, numerous local
restaurateurs will create exquisite menus between 4 and 25
September 2022. But that is not all: a gourmet weekend in
the Saas Valley will be raffled off among all participants. So,
there’s double the pleasure in store.
16 JULY – 12 AUGUST
Baschi, Anna Rossinelli Trio, Baba Shrimps and other national
top acts will ensure a fantastic atmosphere in front of a unique
backdrop this summer. The first edition of the SaasFeestival
transforms the glacier world into a unique open-air stage.
Things get going on Saturday, 16 July, with Family Day
on Kreuzboden above Saas-Grund. Children’s activities and a
festive atmosphere to the sounds of the Upper Valais ‘troubadour
z’Hansrüedi’ guarantee carefree moments for the whole
family. The highlight of the new festival concept is the three
evenings on the village square in Saas-Fee. Olympic snowboarder
Pat Burgener will be supporting Anna Rossinelli Trio.
Baschi and Baba Shrimps will also be doing the honours in
Saas-Fee. Likewise, ‘Freitagsauto’ and ‘Die Nachbarn’. The
first SaasFeestival will draw to a worthy conclusion with the
performance of the Zermatt band ‘Wintershome’ on Friday, 12
August, on the village square in Saas-Almagell.
Admission to the concerts is free.
It was already clear after the first time the running event was
held: people wanted more! The Mattmark Half-Marathon is a
tough one, with 810 metres of ascent. The ambience is all the
more beautiful for the runners: the tour starts at the Round
Church in Saas-Balen. The route then leads through picturesque
larch forests past Saas-Grund and Saas-Almagell to
the hamlet of Zermeiggern. On these historic paths, the ascent
slowly becomes steeper until you reach the wall of the largest
earthen dam in Europe. Those who have made it this far are
inspired by the sight of the turquoise waters of Lake Mattmark.
The seven-kilometre loop around the lake is the crowning glory
of the Mattmark Half-Marathon. As an alternative to the full
half-marathon distance, there is also an eight-kilometre route
that takes you around the lake, or there is a Nordic Walking/
Fun category to sign up for. The starting places are in great
demand for all categories: Early registration is worthwhile.
Information and registration
FIND YOUR HOME WITH US
La Gorge – Unique – Boutique Hotel
The Aroma Boutique Hotel La Gorge in
Saas-Fee has been offering an exclusive
holiday experience in the glacier paradise
in Saas-Fee with its 15 unique rooms since
November 2021. Each room is a real winner
with its unique charm. Whether sleeping
like a princess in the tower suite, feeling comfortable
in the simple standard double room,
bathing in the private outdoor whirlpool at
dizzying heights, or relaxing with a massage,
Hotel La Gorge is sure to create long-lasting
memories that inspire.
We are happy to welcome you in a quiet
and central location right next to the Alpin-Express
mountain railway, close to the
shops and the multistorey car park.
+41 27 958 16 80
The Hotel Mistral is a modern holiday hotel
located right next to the mountain railways
and the hiking area of Saas-Fee. We offer
warm hospitality and informality in a personal
ambience. Our Basic and Top Style
rooms are tastefully furnished – some with
whirlpool tubs. In our à la carte restaurant,
we’ll spoil you with regional and international
delicacies. Our dishes are prepared
with seasonal and market-fresh products.
What’s more, Hotel Mistral has **** holiday
apartments with hotel service.
We look forward to your visit.
The Supersaxo family and the Mistral team
+41 27 958 92 10
A MOATED CASTLE AND TRUE POWERHOUSE
The Mattmark Dam has a turbulent history.
It not only serves guests and locals as a place
of power – but also supplies thousands
households with electricity.
Text: Patrick Gasser
Images: levin.studio / Alberto @swiss
1965 – disaster strikes
Studies in the 1950s showed that the enormous power of
the water mass in the Mattmark area could also be beneficial.
Kraftwerke Mattmark AG began construction of the present
dam in 1958. Today, the dammed water uses its power
to drive turbines for electricity production and supplies thousands
of households with electricity. Before the dam was
completed seven years after construction began, the ‘dragon’
struck again: on 30 August 1965, part of the glacier tongue
of the Allalin glacier broke off. Two million cubic metres of
ice and debris thundered down onto the workers’ shelters at
the construction site on the dam. 88 workers, the majority of
them Italian guest workers, died. Recovering the dead took
months. Today, a memorial not far from the site of the accident
commemorates the victims. The Mattmark Half-Marathon,
launched five years ago, is also held in memory of the
They called it the ‘dragon in the valley floor
of Mattmark’. The Allalin glacier. It has now
receded far from the dam wall, which was
completed in 1967. During the ‘Little Ice
Age’, i.e. between the 15th and the early
20th century, it took over the task of a
dam. The Allalin glacier was unpredictable
in its function as a weir: time and again,
the glacial lake burst and flooded the hamlets
and meadows further down the valley.
Sand and debris turned the farmland into
barren deserts for years. Quite a few of the
valley inhabitants packed up their belongings
and migrated – for example, over the
Monte Moro Pass to the Walser settlement
of today’s Macugnaga.
A true powerhouse
Today, the lake fills and empties as the power plant operators
intend. In spring, the meltwater is fed into the lake through a
system of pipelines. As the snow melts, the lake level rises.
The constant change of the seasons is felt particularly strongly
here. In winter, hikers pass the top of the dam on their descent
from the Fluchthorn. It gets busier in the summer. Then
the restaurant is also open. The bus service takes families to
the starting point of the approximately eight-kilometre hike
around the lake. Everywhere the water tumbles via falls and
streams and onto the lake surface. The power of nature is thus
particularly palpable. And it seems to pass over to you when
you feel the cold spray of the waterfalls on your skin.
Only a few steps away from the dam, the last signal
bar on your smartphone disappears. Sparse network coverage
helps visitors to slow down. However, it is also important
to bear this in mind when hiking into the deserted ‘Ofental’
valley or towards the Monte Moro Pass. The smartphone only
picks up the next mobile network later from the Italian side of
the border. Here in the moated castle of the Upper Valais, the
weather can suddenly change even in summer: not only does
the network coverage here increasingly come from Italy, but
Along the lakefront, you will find another elemental
force in the form of the Eringer cows. These animals of ancient
decent have been grazing in the region here for centuries.
With the retreat of the Allalin glacier, their summer pasture
gradually increases in size.
Discover the adventure worlds on p. 10
More about the Mattmark area
The approximately eight-kilometre circuit around
Lake Mattmark is also ideal for families. If you
take a good two hours, you can let the power of
nature unleash its wonderful effect on you. The
trail is relatively even and, with only a good 100
metres of ascent and descent, slightly elevated
along the lakefront. At the same time, the Mattmark
Dam, which is accessible by bus, is also
the starting point for more challenging hikes in
the direction of the Monte Moro Pass, Ofental
or Jazzilücke. However, these hikes should be
planned well and started early. In summer, spring
clouds often form in the region around the Monte
Moro Pass, which can envelop the area in fog.
Turquoise water and mystical mist: the region around
today’s Lake Mattmark looks back on an eventful history.
ON TO NEW SPHERES
Via Ferrata Britannia – host Dario Andenmatten and his
team expanded the offer at the Britannia Hut last early summer:
the new Via Ferrata leads up to the ridge of Hinter Allalin at difficulty
levels K-3 (fairly difficult) to K-4 (difficult). The entrance is
only a few minutes’ walk below the Britannia Hut, which
can be reached from the Felskinn mountain station in less
than an hour via a hiking trail. The Via Ferrata is extremely
varied. After completing roughly two-thirds of the route, the
rock forms a small platform: ideal for taking a breather and
enjoying the spectacular view down to the turquoise waters
of Lake Mattmark. This is followed by the most spectacular
part high up on the ridge of the route’s final point at 3,144
metres. The descent leads along a blue-white-marked trail
down to the Hohlaub glacier and back to the Britannia Hut.
Even in high summer, you have to expect to cross snowfields
on this trail. If you are early, you can also tackle the Glacier
Trail, which is also marked in blue and white, after the approximately
two-and-a-half-hour tour. This leads you over both the
Hohlaub and Allalin glaciers. The hike ends at the Mattmark
Dam and takes about three hours.
A TIMEOUT IN THE ICE AGE
Längfluh Glacier Experience Tour – nowhere else in the Alps
do you find yourself in the harsh world of ice as quickly as on
Längfluh. In just a few minutes, and together with the mountain
guide, you leave the gondola lift station behind you and
trudge along the rope across the expanse of the Fee glacier.
The séracs are stacked as high as a house here. They occur
because the glacier is constantly in motion. The ice pushes
up to 20 centimetres down the valley – and thus constantly
changes the landscape. During the three- to four-hour tour, the
mountain guides – who are familiar with the area – tell you
how the face of the mountains changes. Equipped with crampons,
climbing harness and poles, the tour leads over glacial
ice that is thousands of years old. This tour is also perfectly
suitable for people without alpine experience – and is sure to
leave no one out in the cold, so to speak.
Discover the adventure worlds on p. 10
Glacier Experience Tour Längfluh
Via Ferrata Britannia
ALLALIN AND WEISSMIES:
WHATEVER THE WEATHER,
THERE’S SOMETHING HERE
Bouldering in the Saas Valley – to offer budding climbing fans
and those who are just discovering their passion a bad-weather
option, active climbers from the region have set up a bouldering
cellar in Saas-Grund. With a usable climbing area of
around 120 square metres, it is available to all climbing enthusiasts
A group of enthusiastic climbers has discovered countless
boulders and ledges in the Saas Valley that are perfect
for bouldering. Unlike classic climbing, a climbing harness
and rope are not required here. A mattress for a soft landing is
all that is needed.
Bouldering in the Saas Valley
The Allalinhorn is the Saas-Fee’s local mountain. The glaciated
giant is considered the easiest 4,000-metre peak
in the Alps when climbed via the normal route. With a
mountain guide and the right equipment, the 500 metres
in altitude from the top station of the Metro Alpin
are doable even for people without alpine experience.
Prerequisites are sure-footedness and fitness for four hours of
high alpine hiking. You should also bring a healthy portion of
respect for the mountain. The tour to the summit at 4,027 metres
above sea level takes about two hours. An overwhelming
panoramic view of the Alps awaits you at the summit cross.
If you have been bitten by the summit bug after climbing
the Allalinhorn, you should definitely try the Weissmies.
The tour to the 4,017-metre high local mountain of Saas-Grund
takes around five hours, which is somewhat longer than
the tour to the Allalinhorn. The starting point is the Hohsaas
mountain station. An alternative comes in the form of a twoday
tour from the Almagellerhütte.
Discover the adventure worlds on p. 10
Information and booking
You want to fly high? The mountain
guides of the Saas Valley are always at
your disposal and provide adventure in
the high mountains. Let our guides lead
you safely into the alpine world of the
Saas Valley. saas-fee.ch/bergfuehrer
Erich and Beni Kälin achieved something extraordinary
two years ago: from Visp, they rode their
commercially available e-mountain bikes via the
Britannia Hut to the 4,190-metre-high Strahlhorn.
Text: Patrick Gasser
Images: Mario Heller
Dawn. Summit cross. A father and son
embrace. Photo. A snapshot of the kind
that can be found on almost any mountain
peak in the Alps on a July day. And yet the
undertaking of Erich (63) and Beni (33)
Kälin in the summer of 2020 made waves
far beyond the alpinist scene: not far from
the summit cross of the 4,190-metre-high
Strahlhorn are two bicycles on which the
Bernese Oberland paraglider pilot and
speed-flying pioneer covered the entire
distance together with his father Erich. It’s
over 3,500 metres in altitude from Visp to
the Strahlhorn at the very back of the Saas
Made it: Beni (left) and Erich Kälin on the summit of the
The most important component of the bikes is hidden in the
frame: ‘We used bikes with one of the most powerful electric
motors on the market’, says Beni Kälin. ‘With non-motorised
bikes, we would have had far too little power for the steep and
snow-covered slopes and would have had to push or carry
them over long distances.’
The project clearly demonstrates what is feasible today.
Even though small modifications to the saddle and steering
fork were necessary and special wheels provided more grip
on the snow: the Kälins rode the Strahlhorn with commercially
available e-mountain bikes.
In the near future, battery performance is set to increase
by another 30 to 40 per cent for the same weight,
industry magazines predict. ‘I think in ten years’ time, we’ll be
laughing about the fact that we used to have to lug around
heavy spare batteries’, adds Beni Kälin.
A motorised mountain bike is still around 10 kilograms
heavier than a non-motorised one. This makes the e-mountain
bikes a little more sluggish to steer downhill. But these
e-bikes are also catching up in terms of downhill performance,
making even the most puritanical bikers succumb
to temptation. In the Saas Valley, the trend is being noticed:
numerous routes – such as the tour to the Gletscherseewini
above Saas-Balen – have plenty of impressive experiences
Incline of up to 23 degrees
Back to the Strahlhorn: for climbers, the summit is one of the
easier four-thousand-metre peaks in the Alps. But the long
path demands quite a bit of fitness when climbing to the
4,190-metre peak. For Beni and Erich Kälin, the tour already
began in Visp. There, they rode their e-mountain bikes up the
cantonal road to Saas-Fee. Here, they changed tyres to have
better grip later on when riding on the snow that covers the
They covered another 1,200 metres in altitude to the
Britannia Hut via the ski slopes, which have been eroded.
Shortly before the intermediate destination at 3,030 metres
above sea level, the two reached their limits with their bikes
for the first time. The steep, snow-covered slope at Egginerjoch
with an incline of 23 degrees – a red-marked ski slope in
winter – meant that Beni and Erich Kälin had to push the bikes
for the first time. With a tare weight of 24 kilograms (without
additional battery), the motor also provided support thanks to
the corresponding push-assist function.
Pit stop at the Britannia Hut
At the Britannia Hut, both father and son charged their own
batteries for the summit day. They were not the first guests
on two wheels that Dario Andenmatten has hosted: ‘The first
mountain biker was on our terrace about 25 years ago’, says
Dario Andenmatten, host at one of the Swiss Alpine Club’s
most frequented huts.
Even a four-thousand-metre peak has been reached
here by mountain bike: about 15 years ago – people in the
Saas Valley don’t remember exactly – a group ventured down
the Allalinhorn (4,027 metres above sea level). Together with
the Zermatt Breithorn (4,164 metres above sea level), the summit
is considered the easiest four-thousand-metre peak in the
Alps. This is not least because of the accessibility by mountain
railways up to around 500 metres in altitude below the
Together, Beni and Erich Kälin rode the Strahlhorn on an e-mountain bike in the
summer of 2020.
On a rope over the glacier
For Beni and Erich Kälin, the journey continued at 1.00 a.m. in
the direction of the Strahlhorn. Roped up, they travelled over
the glacier towards the Adler Pass. The snow cover was not
always frozen enough. Time and again, the two had to push
their bikes a few metres. Beni Kälin: ‘The Strahlhorn may be
a flat 4,000-metre peak for classic high-altitude tours. For the
e-bike, however, the various sections with more than 20 degrees
of incline are still extremely steep.’
Traversing like when on a ski tour is not possible.
‘The pedals always get stuck in the snow on the
slope.’ Small holes eaten into the snow by the July sun
make it difficult for the duo to find their balance on the uneven
surface. Nevertheless, they reached the summit and then
rode back to Saas-Fee.
Beni and Erich Kälin’s venture has shown what is possible
with technology today. But the e-mountain bikes, which
start at around 5,000 Swiss francs, are no guarantee of successfully
reaching the summit. Beni Kälin: ‘It’s wrong to think
that you can just make your way up there.’ That’s because:
Without experienced riding technique, good fitness, the right
e-bikes with the right components and, above all, the right
conditions, you will quickly reach your limits in the high mountains
Even if technical development offers support: not
everyone makes it through with the e-mountain bike
off-road. It is, therefore, important to approach the tour
slowly and adapt it to your personal abilities. By the
way, the same also applies to mountain bikes without
a motor. It is also worth taking riding courses with
trained MTB instructors. This is because the right riding
technique is far more important than battery range.
RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES IN THE OUTDOOR SPA
RELAX WITH US
The Saas Valley is the perfect place to recharge your batteries.
For example, with the outdoor wellness offer.
Feeling the fresh alpine meadow between your toes
and dipping your face into the cold glacier water: nowhere
else do you feel as alive as in the abundant nature
of the Saas mountains. The top athletes from all over the world
who train on the Fee glacier in summer also know this. After
honing their technique in the summer ski area, Marco Odermatt,
Mikaela Shiffrin and Co. always meet at the Kneipp facility
above the Kalbermatten sports field in Saas-Fee. Bathing
in the glacier water helps to regenerate muscles.
A real insider tip, however, is the pool of the Almagellerbach
stream not far from the Hotel Kristall Saphir in Saas-Almagell.
The cool water here runs delicately over the smooth rocks and
into a natural tub. An ideal finishing point for a hike with the
family from Saas-Fee via Waldweg Bodmen to Saas-Almagell.
In addition to the outdoor wellness facilities, there
are five publicly accessible spa and wellness areas in
hotels in the Saas Valley. Whether it’s a sauna or Turkish
steam bath: everyone will find what they are looking for here.
Massages and other services round off the offer.
The Kneipp facility at the Kalbermatten sports field
invites you to regenerate your muscles. Image: Puzzle Media
One particularly wonderful offer is a
wellness stay in
Aqua Allalin – recreation and sport at 1,800 m 2
Peace and serenity for body and mind determine
the ambience in the wellness area;
saunas, steam bath, navel stone and more
invite you to spend many a relaxing hour in
a top-notch wellness environment. Let the
panoramic view of the surrounding mountains
inspire you to new thoughts.
Sport and fun play are the order of the day
in the indoor pool. Whether it’s training
in the 25-metre pool, regeneration in the
whirlpool and on the outdoor terrace, or
family fun in the children’s pool and on the
adventure slide – this is the place to be
active. An extensive massage and wellness
programme, as well as beauty treatments,
round off the offer. You can enjoy all this
at wellnessHostel4000 whether you book a
double, family or multibed room.
+41 27 958 50 50
Walliserhof Grand-Hotel & Spa*****
Your alpine timeout
for body, mind and soul
After exciting mountain adventures,
the hotel’s spa ensures holistic relaxation.
Whether you actively approach your relaxation
step by step with one of the
experienced wellness coaches or treat
yourself to a timeout in the sauna world –
that is entirely up to you.
An alpine retreat of peace and relaxation welcomes
you on over 2,100 m². Various saunas,
a steam bath, whirlpool and a light-flooded
relaxation zone await you here. The wellness
experts will pamper you in several treatment
rooms with massages, cosmetic treatments,
baths and packs.
+41 27 958 19 00
Wellness Spa Pirmin Zurbriggen****S
In the three hotels, the stage is set for the
experience and enjoyment you’d expect
from a stay that is so much in demand today.
Pure relaxation in natural surroundings,
enjoyment and well-being in an informal
atmosphere, bringing body and soul into
harmony, that is the motto with which the
hotelier family makes their guests happy.
Saas-Almagell (Valais) 1,672 m, framed
by a dreamlike mountain world with
18 four-thousand-metre peaks. A southern
stimulating climate – plenty of sun, pleasant
temperatures. Ideal for Alpine wellness with
1,700 m 2 !
The most important factor, however, is the
Zurbriggen team, especially the managing
directors Esther and Fabian Zurbriggen.
They guarantee family moments of well-being
and comfort in a unique ambience.
New at Monte Moro:
Rösti and Cordon Bleu Hüs Restaurant.
Pick-up service CHF 4 per person.
+41 27 957 10 12
+41 27 957 23 01
Christelle Anthamatten and Frederik Kalbermatten
explore the Saas Valley with their camera. They
each reveal one of their favourite photo spots.
‘Mountain Layers’ on Ofentalhorn
“This photo was taken on the 3,059 metre high Ofentalhorn.
The Ofental valley is one of my favourite places in the Saas Valley.
There is a path through the valley towards Jazzilücke, Antronapass
and Heidbodmen. On the hike through the Ofental
valley, you could, in some places, even take your shoes off:
you feel like you’re in the Scottish Highlands on the cotton
grass and soft ground. Only a little later, at the Ofen Pass, do
you need sturdy mountain boots: from here, you can see all
the way to Italy. I find these ‘Mountain Layers’ very special.
You look out of the Saas Valley in the opposite direction to
the Mischabel chain. This day trip is worth it for this change
of perspective alone.’
Christelle Anthamatten (30) from Saas-Almagell is a secondary school teacher and
teaches mathematics in Brig.
‘My father spends the summer with the Eringer cows on the
Distel Alp, where he herds the animals. I, too, always enjoy
spending time on the alp. Despite my love for my home country,
I love to travel and enjoy discovering other countries and
cultures. As is well known, this was only possible with restrictions
during the coronavirus pandemic. But it made me all
the more aware of how beautiful we have it here in the Saas
Valley and just how diverse it is. We have mountains, glaciers,
lakes and even beaches. On a glorious summer’s day, I decided
to take all the beach stuff with me to the shore of Lake
Mattmark and so spent a wonderful beach day on Distel Alp.
My interest in photography has always been there. Two years
ago, I bought a camera and started to get more involved with
photography. I like to experiment with different perspectives
and subjects, and enjoy discovering new things. Photography
acts as a great balance to my job.’
Frederik Kalbermatten (41) is a professional snowboarder and photographer. He lives with his family in Saas-Fee.
MOUNTAIN HUTS AND MOUNTAIN RESTAURANTS
ALMAGELL HIGH TRAIL
Britannia Hut – the grande dame of the
A desire for adventure, breathtaking views
and grandiose mountain worlds! The
traditional mountain hut above Saas-
Fee at 3,030 m above sea level. It offers
its guests and visitors everything nature-related
for their stay. The Britannia
Hut offers various ascent options
for both young and old. The Glacier Trail
from Mattmark Dam, which is marked out
across majestic glaciers such as the Allalin
and Hohlaub glaciers, is considered one of the
most beautiful connections to the Britannia
Hut. Or how about an overnight stay in
our newly renovated alpine rooms, in order
to climb the newly built Via Ferrata Britannia
the next day? The Britannia Hut is
also the starting point for many four-thousand-metre
peaks such as the Strahlhorn,
Rimpfischhorn, Allalin and Alphubel.
Your host, Dario Andenmatten, and the
team look forward to your visit.
Britannia Hütte SAC
+41 27 957 22 88
The Almagelleralp stands at 2,200 m above
sea level in the midst of a breathtaking
mountain and glacier world. It is the ideal
destination for hikers, mountaineers and
Surrounded by the highest peaks in the
Swiss Alps, Almagelleralp offers rest
and relaxation. We have three double rooms
and camp beds – and why not book halfboard
at the same time?
You can reach the Almagelleralp via the
hiking trail from Kreuzboden (3h), via the
suspension bridges from Furggstalden (1.5
hours) or via the hiking trail from Saas-Almagell
I look forward to welcoming you!
+41 79 629 78 08
‘Alpenblick’ mountain restaurant
Enjoy our renovated mountain restaurant
in the summer and winter hiking region
of Hannig at an altitude of 2,030 metres
on the edge of a gnarled larch and pine
forest, and halfway between Hannig and
You will love the beautiful sun terrace
with a magnificent view of the mountain
landscape and the rustic interior of our
Zuckmayer Stube. We will spoil you with
Swiss cuisine and fine home-made cakes.
Our small yet refined dormitory for groups
(min. 6 and max. 10 people) is all set up for a
good night’s sleep, if you want to enjoy the
starry Saas sky and a sumptuous breakfast
the morning after.
+41 76 539 32 78
On this trail high above the treeline, you can enjoy unspoilt
nature and a fantastic view over the Saas Valley and the
Mischabel chain – with the highest mountains in Switzerland.
The hike starts at the Kreuzboden mountain station above
Saas-Grund at 2,400 m above sea level, which is easily
accessible by gondola . Always surrounded by the four-thousand-metre
peaks of Saas and with an unobstructed view of
the Mattmark Dam, nature fans will reach the Almagellertal
valley. Here follows the descent to the Almagelleralp mountain
hotel with its striking red shutters. Once there, you can taste
traditional dishes such as ‘smugglers’ macaroni’ and fresh fruit
tarts. Then continue either via the adventure trail with two
suspension bridges and ladders to Furggstalden, or via the
direct trail to Saas-Almagell.
Time requirement: approx. 3.5 hours
Route: 10.5 kilometres
Metres in altitude uphill: 204m
Metres in altitude downhill: 931m
Highest point: 2,522 m above sea level
Lowest point: 1,671 m above sea level
A MOUNTAIN SPANNING
The Hannig connects both young and old. A visit to this sunny
mountain expanse creates experiences that interlink generations.
Some are delighted by the goats that graze the
alpine herbs here in summer. Others like to watch the birds and
listen to the charming sounds of the marmots. And there are
those who are simply happy about the ice cream in the mountain
restaurant right next to the playground. The Hannig, with its
comparatively easy hiking trails and rail access, is a family-centric
mountain in the best possible sense. Here at 2,350 metres
above sea level, generations come together to enjoy. The
view at the foot of the Mischabel chain stretches from the
4,545-metre-high Dom, over the white glaciers to the Weissmies.
Everyone feels at home here.
The Hannig is also ideally suited for bikers. Or even
on scooters, the descent can then be tackled. Those who
prefer it a little more leisurely can stroll down into the valley.
This provides, for example, the opportunity to buy
fresh goat’s cheese directly from the alpine cooperative
shop just before the treeline. Further down on Melchboden,
the recently renovated lake area with adjacent barbecue zone
and large playground invites you to spend some quality time.
Discover the adventure worlds on p. 10
HOW A VALLEY WANTS TO PROTECT ITS GLACIERS
The Alps are warming twice as fast as the rest of the
world due to climate change. The consequences
have long been felt in the Saas Valley. This is precisely
why the region has become a pioneer in climate
Text: Patrick Gasser
Images: Puzzle Meida / @swiss_voyage
The Alpine region has warmed twice as much as the global
average since the late 19th century. The temperature
increase from the beginning of the industrial age to
the beginning of the 21st century was 2 degrees Celsius. The
fact that it has become noticeably warmer in the glacier world
of the Saas Valley is particularly apparent to people who have
been travelling through the mountains for decades. Dominik
Gnos, a mountain guide for 50 years, says: ‘Today, some summit
tours are done in summer in a shirt. In the past, you always
needed a jacket.’
It is tempting to think that fewer clothes will be the
norm on the summit tour. But warming brings a multitude of
challenges, especially for a high alpine region like the Saas
Valley: Swiss glaciers have lost around ten per cent of their
mass in the past five years alone. Where the ice disappears,
the rock destabilises. Routes that the mountain guides have
walked for years are suddenly no longer passable.
An important water reservoir:
Swiss glaciers store 57 trillion litres of drinking water.
Glaciers as water reservoirs
Warming is also associated with problems for buildings at
altitude. Where the permafrost – a kind of icy glue – thaws
due to the higher temperatures, the rock crumbles or water
begins to flow. In summer 2021, the Saas Valley mountain lift
operator, therefore, extensively renovated the access tunnel
to the Metro Alpin at a total cost of CHF 4.5 million.
The Swiss glaciers are also a huge reservoir of
drinking water. In total, they store 57 trillion litres of water.
That is more than the volume of Lake Constance and
Lake Thun combined. Nowhere else are you as close
to this impressive glacier world as in the holiday region
Saas-Fee/Saastal. This also means that you are always walking
in the footsteps of climate change.
As the consequences of global warming are particularly noticeable
here, a lot is being done in the Saas Valley to enable
future generations to enjoy a view of these ice giants
as well. Thus, as early as the beginning of the 1950s, the decision
was made in Saas-Fee to remain car-free. George Michael’s
jeep ride for the shoot of the music video for the Christmas
hit ‘Last Christmas’ was an exception to the rule. Since 2002,
Saas-Fee has also carried the label ‘Energy City GOLD’. This
certificate is awarded to cities and municipalities that continuously
promote the efficient use of energy, climate protection
and environmentally friendly mobility. Municipalities with the
Energy City label also promote environmentally compatible
mobility. Only electric cars get to operate in Saas-Fee. There
are only a few exceptions: for example, for the village doctor,
ambulance vehicles or the police.
With its energy and climate mission statement, Saas-
Fee has set itself lofty goals for the future. For example,
total energy consumption is to be reduced by 70 per cent in
stages by 2050. In the same period, the share of renewable
energy sources is to be increased to 100 per cent. This is to
be done primarily through building renovation and by promoting
solar accumulation zones. The potential for solar energy
in sunny Saas-Fee is an impressive 13.73 gigawatt hours per
year. Through all these measures, the hope remains that key
climate goals will be achieved. The vision is to reduce emissions
of the harmful greenhouse gas CO2 to one tonne per
inhabitant per year by 2050.
District heating heats indoor swimming pool
A district heating network has already been in operation in
Saas-Fee since 2015. This consists of an air/heat pump combined
with an underground storage tank. In summer, the pump
is fed by solar energy and the heat thus gained from the ambient
air is stored seasonally in the underground storage tank.
In winter, this heat can be fed into the district heating network.
The Aqua Allalin youth hostel, for example, benefits from this
process. It is supplied with district heating.
And so, in the holiday destination of Saas-Fee/Saastal,
the high alpine hiking and climbing tours are not the only
challenges. A lot is also being done to ensure that future generations
will also be able to marvel at the uniquely blue ice of
these glacier giants in the region.
The Alps are warming twice as much as the global average.
There are many other
sustainable projects going on in the Saas Valley.
Pictured on the cover is the Weissmies North Ridge
with the summit in the background.
Image: Frederik Kalbermatten