Aletsch Arena Ski Review
Aletsch Arena is a vast sun drenched Swiss ski area rated among
the Best Ski Resorts in the Alps, actually comprised of three car-free ski
villages - Riederalp, Bettmeralp, and Fiescheralp, all interconnected by
extensive ski lifts and trails. Never heard of Aletsch Arena? Neither have most
Swiss skiers, because only recently have the three independent ski areas
marketed themselves together as Aletsch Arena. You can take Swiss trains to
Morel or Betten from Zurich airport for a car free ski vacation.
Each of Aletsch's three ski areas alone would make for a nice ski getaway, but
together the terrain stretches for 64 miles of prepared pistes with 35 lifts, 11
terrain parks, half-pipes and free-ride runs plus hundreds of acres of
off-piste. The vast terrain is well connected with modern trams, gondolas, and
chairlifts serving runs of up to 6,000' vertical. Because Aletsch Arena is so
easy to get around, you can head for the sun in Fiescheralp, the highest of the
three at 9,412' - the Eggishorn, while Riederalp could be in the clouds.
The Aletsch Glacier is the largest and longest glacier in the
Alps, 14 miles, best viewed from atop Eggishorn. The massive glacier is
absolutely stunning surrounded by the towering Jungrau, Monch, Aletschhorn,
Eiger and other huge peaks of Valais. Many people ride the Eggishorn tram up and
down for the view, since the ski down is a narrow expert marked trail with
fences on both sides. We enjoyed summit dining here at Horli Hitta, delicious
raclette and rosti at 9,412'. The views all around Aletsch Arena are stunning,
there are 48 peaks over 4,000 meters (12,000’) in The Alps, and 45 of those are
in this Swiss county of Wallis (or Valais in French).
Mountain chalets and huts dot Aletsch Arena's ski trail map for fabulous lunch
stops. Heidi Hutte in Fiescheralp has a sun deck where you can watch the para-gliders
take off and soar among the Alps. Riederalp has a fantastic ski school for
children, rated the best ski school in the Alps for kids. We loved staying in
the centrally located Bettmeralp – marketed as "the Better Alp".
Getting to Aletsch Arena you arrive by train to Betten and ride the Tram
to the car free ski village of Bettmeralp. It is quite astonishing that everything in these
ski villages arrives by Tram. A snowmobile sent by our Hotel Alpfrieden, whisked
us up a snowy road through the village with our luggage towed on a sleigh. Very
James Bond like as we flew by bakeries, bars, hotels, skiers and shops through
the snowy chalet village.
Alpfrieden in Bettmeralp, half board includes your cozy guestroom in
traditional Swiss decor, most with balconies, a four course dinner and a
bountiful breakfast with a view of the ski slopes so you know when they are
loading and it's time to go grab your boots from the heated boot room and your
skis from the ski room.
Après ski at Aletsch Arena, the Mountain Roc in the village of
Bettmeralp is jamming – and popular with the local ski instructors. The Icicle
Bar at Hotel Alpfrieden sports an outdoor deck that looks ideal on a sunny day.
The Alpfrieden also has a disco and bar that rocks with a DJ, videos and dancing
from 9 - late.
A mountain guide at Aletsch Arena is recommended if you want to explore the
extensive off-piste. Locals Martin Nellen and his son Dominik are both
Bergfuehrer, certified mountain guides in summer and winter, and members of the
ski school. See our tips on Hiring a
Ski Guide in Switzerland.
Altesch Arena is a Unesco World Heritage site for its natural beauty and
uniqueness. There is luxury ski lodging and accommodations in Riederalp,
Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp, in fact all the Aletsch ski lodging properties are
ski in ski out, so you can walk straight to the slopes, and ski back at day's
end. The car free atmosphere adds to the charm of these traditional Swiss ski
villages high in the mountains, taking you back to an earlier time.
If you wish to enjoy Aletsch's winter scene without alpine skiing, there are 45
miles of winter hiking and cross-country trails around Lake Bettmersee, a mile
long snowshoe trail between Bettmeralp and Riederalp, and ice skating on a
natural ice rink in Bettmeralp. For a crazy thrilling ride, try the 8-mile
sledding run from Fiescheralp - which you can do by day on a traditional wooden
sled or at night with a flashlight after a fondue and raclette dinner in a
mountainside chalet (not sure we recommend this).