Top
Aletsch Glacier February 2023

Near the end of Valais, family-friendly *Aletsch Arena is a huge ski area surrounding the Aletsch Glacier (claiming 104 km of skiable area). It’s popular outside of winter for hiking, as well. The Glacier itself is the largest glacier of the Alps, extending from the northern slopes of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau down towards the Valais. It’s impressive, and sad; you can see the recession of the glacier on a year over year basis. See Belalp notes for our hike over the glacier between Belalp and Riederfurka.

Spoiler alert – this was one of our least favorite ski destinations of recent memory and we have no desire to return.

Who goes here? Swiss-German families and the Dutch, it appeared. The access is very easy – in Fiesch, the train stop and gondola share a station. The level of amenities (or lack thereof) gave us the impression it’s heavy on day trip visits.

The easternmost side of Aletsch Arena is higher elevation, with Eggishorn at almost 3000M. Fairly steep, and good groomers all over the place. Good off piste if there’s fresh snow. Towards the west, it’s flatter, with a lot of traversing to get there, and much larger/more novice crowds. There’s a big investment in infrastructure (detachable lifts everywhere). Far too expensive for what it is (the same as Verbier!) and not worth it. Bad/rude skiers and hikers everywhere, all over the mountain. No one is looking where they are going, extremely crowded, lots of kids, accidents waiting to happen on every run. Limited dining options, extremely down market. 

  • We had a great summer lunch at **Restaurant Riederfurka, which is surprisingly high end and has an excellent wine list (downgraded after a winter visit to “just okay and packed with annoying people”). It’s right next to Pro Natura Zentrum Aletsch, which makes a lot of Instagram lists, but isn’t that impressive up close.
  • It is worthwhile to go up the tram to the Viewpoint Eggishorn; there’s a small restaurant/bar, **Horli-Hitta, that’s a good spot for a break.

Fiesch

Will we be back? No. But should you visit:

We stayed at **DU GLACIER Boutique & Traditions Hotel, and this was the right choice. It’s very affordable, a bit on the rustic side (built in 1840, rooms are modernized today to include toilets and showers, but it’s very much “added” and not “restored”). Decent food, nice staff.

We also did a fairly thorough walk through the town (which didn’t take long; it’s small). The Lodge Inn was another option; it’s a step down from a quality perspective and there’s no restaurant anymore, just a bar (at least as of Feb 2024). Design Hotel Christania has fancier prices, up close it’s not in great shape and the menu does not look appealing.

The sports shop, ***Volken Sport, in the building with the gondola, is really good. Well stocked, super helpful, local (we talked to the owner; it’s a third generation family-run business).

Rotten

Just up the road east, the **Suspension bridge over Rotten is worth a quick stop – long and dramatic, high over a river gorge. Right next to the road.