Snowshoeing and winter walking above St. Luc

I’ve hiked up to the Hotel Weisshorn, above St. Luc in Switzerland’s Val d’Anniviers, over a dozen times in summer as part of the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route. But during the winter, the same trail offers an amazingly different snowshoeing outing.

Getting to know the area

The Hotel Weisshorn sits at 2,337 meters on a promontory called Teta Feyaz, chosen for its commanding views across the Val d’Anniviers and into the Rhone Valley. The hotel’s construction began in 1882 with a stone ground floor and a wooden first floor. But an 1889 fire forced guests to escape through the windows, and the hotel was destroyed.

The present all-stone structure dates back to 1891, but the hotel’s troubles continued long after its reopening. The owners abandoned it for years, the roof blew off in a 1990 storm, and it even passed through many hands. But today it retains its old-world charm and has a superb dining room. Best of all, the views are as compelling as ever.

Snowshoeing: views of the Mattehorn from St. Luc
Commanding views of the Matterhorn from St. Luc

Snowshoeing above St. Luc

In summer, a hike from St. Luc is one of the finest excursions in the Alps. But in winter, I’d recommend taking the funicular from St. Luc to Tignousa, then snowshoeing along the groomed track to the south.

Departing the Tignousa Funicular mountain station (2186m), you’ll pass the lift stations on the left and be out of the ski area within five minutes. Signs list the groomed track as multi-use — for skiing, snowmobiling, hiking — but on my latest walk, I didn’t see anyone other than a handful of winter walkers.

Snowshoeing: a quiet winter trail above St. Luc
Just a handful of walkers joined me on the trail.

The route follows the Planet Path, a recreation of the Solar System, with planets placed along the path at a scale of one meter to one million kilometers. It’s a fascinating interpretive hike in the summer, but in winter, a thick layer of snow covers the planet sculptures.

About 30 minutes after snowshoeing out of Tignousa, I arrived at Chalet Blanc de Rouaz, a dairy that makes Raclette cheese from about 70 cows during the short Alpine summer. Today, Chalet Blanc is up to its neck in snow.

The trail makes a dip after passing Chalet Blanc but soon gains elevation for the approach to the Hotel Weisshorn’s promontory. There’s plenty of signage, both winter and summer, to keep snowshoers and hikers on track.

The groomed roadway took me directly to the Hotel Weisshorn. For the slightly more adventurous, there is an ungroomed footpaththat takes off to the west and also leads to the destination.

The hotel is open in winter, and it’s the perfect lunch spot. Celebrate your arrival with a blueberry tart. Then return the way you came, or by snowshoeing on the marked trail through the forest to Prilet and back to St. Luc.

Join us!

This walk is a popular outing on Alpenwild’s Swiss Alps Winter Hiking Adventure. We’d love to take you with us on our next tour!

Greg Witt
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