MTB in Val d’Anniviers, Switzerland : cycling Chandolin,  Illpass ,& Zinal Glacier  

June 2021 :2-day trip

We biked in Val d’Anniviers almost a year ago. At that time, in July, the snow had melted away and we could mountain-bike unobstructedly from Saint-Luc to Zinal and back ( link).

This time, in June, we weren’t that lucky, and we were reminded that it was still too early to bike  above 2,000m. 

We booked our hotel in the small tourist village of Chandolin. At 1,936m, it is one of the highest inhabited villages in Europe. It has a tiny but well preserved historic agglomerate.

Chandolin
Chandolin

From here we designed a circular MTB route mixing various existing paths (19km, 800m elevation). We climbed progressively along an unpaved road to le Tsapé (2,500m). 

From Chandolin to Le Tsapé

But here the snow blocked the passage further and we should have stopped. 

Le Tsapé (2,500m)

Instead, we ventured beyond the cleared path, into uncertain snow-covered terrain , reaching the Illpass (2,487m) where the vast panoramic view opened up over the lake (Illsee)

Illsee

Now,  instead of retracing our path backwards, we walked/slid down the deep snow covering the hillside until we could reconnect with the route. 

Descent towards Chandolin

Yes, this turned out to be a full body exercise but it was fun and especially refreshing in light of the heat wave that we were experiencing in the valley.

We spent the night at the charming chalet-style Chandolin Boutique Hotel. 

Then, in the morning we loaded the bikes and drove to Zinal at the end of the valley. 


From here, we ventured towards the Zinal Glacier via MTB 170 (also known as local Num 5 Zinal-Petit Mountet). This is a 13km round-trip mountain trail with 500m elevation. Many small waterfalls are seen along the way.

La Navisence

The trail becomes quite difficult during the last 3km towards the Cabane at the top of the Petit Mountet (2,140m): very steep, slippery and with big rocks. For fear of falling I pushed the bike by hand in several segments. 

Cabane of Petit Mountet at the top of the trail
View of the Weisshorn from the Cabane

But from the Petit Mountet there is an incredible view of the mountains around and of the once thriving Glacier of Zinal. 

The Glacier of Zinal appears grey in the summer because it is under sand and stones

What we see is actually the tongue/bottom of the glacier (and entrance to the Cave in winter) from which the small river Navisence originate. The “tongue” is covered by sand and stones in summer.( https://www.valais.ch/en/activities/natural-sites/glaciers/zinal-glacier 


Incidentally, the Glacier of Zinal is created by the confluence of 3 glaciers’ tails: the Grand Cornier, Durant, and Mountet.

Link to Introduction and other Sections in Val d’Anniviers:


2 thoughts on “MTB in Val d’Anniviers, Switzerland : cycling Chandolin,  Illpass ,& Zinal Glacier  

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