There are two types of skier, those who haven’t been to Zinal and those that have - and now won’t go anywhere else!
Hidden in the back of the Val d’Anniviers, just 15 miles as the crow flies from its more famous Swiss cousins, Verbier, Crans Montana and Zermatt, and towered over by the 4,000m + peaks of the Matterhorn, Weisshorn, Zinalrothorn, Obergabelhorn and Dent Blanche, Zinal is the resort you will never want to leave.
The ski area runs along a wide ridgeline with stunning panoramic views of the ‘Imperial Crown’ (The aforementioned peaks) and offers everything from wide smooth pistes to challenging narrow couloirs. Recent lift upgrades mean the resort has fantastic uplift and it’s rare to find the pistes or lifts particularly busy. This is one of the main draws of Zinal, lack of crowds, even during the holidays it’s not unusual to find yourself the only person on one of the pistes! Of course, this also means the backcountry doesn’t get tracked out quickly and when it does there are plenty of slopes to explore just a short traverse along the ridge line. Throw some skins on your skis and the route choices are almost infinite, or if you want to take the quick way up, the heli-skiing in the area is probably the cheapest available in the Alps and has a variety of landing zones to choose from.
Dropping down over the back towards the Moiry dam opens a huge bowl of easy terrain, the steep slopes of the Col des Ombrintzes offers a number of 45 degree couloirs that regularly host the Freeride World Tour qualifier. Lower down there are fantastic pillow lines through the trees to the valley floor. The new link lift from Grimentz now opens access to 10 more lifts, two more peaks of terrain and a plethora of backcountry options.
The town itself is mostly pretty traditional Swiss chalets dotted along the bright blue glacial river with one gondola up the mountain and one red piste back down. Local bars and restaurants serve traditional alpine fayre without the mega resort prices.
Mountain Tracks have used the Ski Zinal chalet run by Penny & Eric Kendall for more than 10 years. Like many who have settled in Zinal, the couple have skied all over the world (over 300 resorts!) and decided that this quiet hidden village was their Shangri La. Their expert knowledge of the area combined with their fantastic service have made this one of the most popular chalets in the Mountain Tracks programme, in fact we use Ski Zinal more than any other chalet!
Their Edelweiss chalet is just outside the village and is possible to ski back to. It was lovingly refurbished by Penny & Eric with a tasteful mix of modern style and traditional antique furniture and decorations. There’s a cosy log fire indoors and even one outside if you fancy enjoying a vin chaud out in the elements. A big screen TV in the living room, full en-suite and Egyptian cotton linen add a touch of luxury to your stay and their food is hearty home cooking.
Whether it’s the quiet alpine village, the dramatic mountain scenery, the uncrowded pistes and fantastic off piste, there are so many reasons to put Zinal on your bucket list, but be warned, you may never want to leave!
Mountain Tracks run trips to this beautiful corner of the Alps throughout the season, find out more here.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.