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Thursday January 19, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Our editor ends his Swiss rail trip on a high. It follows a distinct low when he was stuck in a total whiteout in Fiescheralp in the Aletsch Arena. What a difference day makes!

Yesterday was not a good day.

I failed to see the panoramic views the Aletsch Arena is famous for.

I didn't ski its three linked resorts of Fiescheralp, Bettmeralp & Riederalp and I got lost on my own in a total whiteout - see here for my account of a less than glorious afternoon in the mountains.

Aletsch ArenaYours truly in the clouds
















I was due to leave but decided to stay on to give the area (and the weather) a second chance.

It proved to be the correct call.

As dawn broke the weather had cleared.

Aletsche Arena Fiesch, Aletsch Arena
















And the sun soon broke through.

Aletsche Arena The slopes await 
















Powder and blue sky beckoned.

Aletsche Arena Aletsch Arena
















First stop was the very top of the Fiescheralp area at Eggishorn at 2,869m with views over the Aletsch glacier - at 23km the longest glacier in the Alps and one I had skied down a few years ago when ski touring off the back of the Eiger on a week-long hut to hut journey.

Aletsche Arena Aletsch glacier
















The views from the top were quite simply stunning.

Aletsch ArenaAletsch Arena















Aletsch ArenaAletsch Arena
















Aletsch ArenaAletsch Arena
















I could see a number of peaks over 4,000m. 

Switzerland has the most 4,000m peaks of any alpine country, 48 in total, and I was in one of the best places to see them from.

After drinking in the stupendous high alpine views on a crystal clear day there was the small matter of skiing round the 3 linked ski resorts.

I couldn't wait after the frustrations of yesterday.

Conditions were perfect for some high speed cruising and it seemed odd to blast down slopes that yesterday in the thick fog I had taken at a snail's pace going from marker post to marker post.

I was with my new best ski friend, Tomasz from the Czech Republic.

Aletsche Arena The speed twins
















I had only met him a few days earlier and we got on like the proverbial house-on-fire.

He skied a bit like the Austrian legendary ex-racer, Franz Klammer.

Tomasz was always on the edge, going slightly too fast with his arms flailing about all over the place. 

Like Franz, Tomasz also wore yellow.

First resort: Fiescheralp.

It sits at 2,212m and has some of the best skiing with wide open pistes, some fabulous tree skiing and challenges for the advanced skier. 

Like its neighbours it is a winter community with shops, hotels and, er, a wigwam.

Aletsche Arena Aletsch Arena
















But first it was a little venture into the powder.

Aletsche Arena Off piste
















And then a change of skis from the powder ski, Volkl Mantras, to the piste ski, Volkl RTM.

I like using a pair of skis that suits the conditions and using rental ones from Intersport allows me to do this.

Simply chopping and changing according to the snow and my mood.

Aletsche Arena All change
















Aletsche Arena On piste
















Fiescheralp is connected to the village of Bettmeralp that is a car free high-alpine village with a year-round community. 

I recommend seeing and skiing it when the sun is out, rather than when the clouds are down.

Today was picture postcard perfect.

Aletsche Arena Bettmeralp
















And finally Riederalp.

If you conjure up an image of a picture postcard Swiss village then Riederalp is it. 

Aletsche Arena Riederalp, Aletsch Arena
















Again it is car-free and your luggage needs to be transported to your chalet or hotel by these machines.

Aletsche Arena Aletsch Arena
















It is a village where time slips quietly by.

It is a world away from the high-octane resorts of Verbier, St Anton & Val d'Isère and all the better for it.

For me it was one of the most interesting places I have skied in a long while and well worth stopping for another day after the weather ruined my first one.

Aletsche Arena Aletsch Arena














I had wanted to see the Aletsch Arena area for many years and it did not disappoint.

Especially once the fog had lifted.

And after skiing I headed back to the village of Fiesch. 

Yesterday I was rather underwhelmed. 

Today was a different story altogether and with the sun out and some fresh snow it was a different place.

Aletsche Arena Fiesch, Aletsch Arena
















Aletsche Arena Fiesch, Aletsch Arena
















And with that my trip was over. 

I had planned for it to be 7 days, but it turned into 8.

With 8 resorts visited, 7 of which I had not skied before and which are mostly unheard of to many British skiers and snowboarders.

And I had even cancelled a trip to my favourite resort, Zermatt, to ski in one I hadn't - Zinal.

All aboard!

Aletsche Arena Aletsch Arena















For the first blog from James as the journey started then see here.

He then went round to Zinal and Grimentz in the Val d'Anniviers, before doing a spot of ski touring in St Luc-Chandolin.

Next stop was an international snowsports conference in Crans-Montana and an appointment with some powder.

And the the whiteout day.


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