Belalp Lifts & Terrain

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Belalp Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
    Belalp Ski Trail & Piste Map
  • Belalp Ski Trail & Piste Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,322m – 3,112m (1,790m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    7m+
  • Lifts (11)
    2 Gondolas / cable cars
    3 Chairs
  • Ski Hours
    Mid December to early April
    8:45am to 5:00pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs - 45km+
    Longest run – 14 km
    Advanced - 20%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Beginner - 40%
  • Lift Pass Prices (Day Ticket 18/19)
    Adult - CHF56
    Child - CHF28
    Child u/6yr - Free

Belalp-Blatten Skiing & Snowboarding

It would be easy to dismiss Belalp as just another middle-of-the-road Swiss ski resort and not sample it. But on the premise that every ski resort is good on its day, after a 30cm (ish) snowfall, the Powderhounds did visit and found whilst it was not super-challenging, the resort was thoroughly enjoyable. The skiing & snowboarding at Belalp provides a broad range of on & off-piste action to appease everyone except the hardest core of extreme riders.

Belalp ski and snowboard terrain is typical of many resorts on the 'alpine terraces' above the upper Rhone valley in the Valais. Just like its neighbouring Aletsch Arena, plus nearby Crans Montana or Anzere, Belalp ski terrain is all southerly aspect & mostly above the tree line. The resort has over 60km of groomed ski trails and routes for all abilities. The total skiable vertical of 1,760m is huge but typical of the region.

See the Blatten - Belalp ski trail map.

Upper alpine terrain at Belalp provides nearly 1,100m of skiable vertical, but it is largely gentle, rolling piste suitable for beginners & intermediates. The exception is the Hohstock T-bar which adds a little more 'oomph' to the piste offerings. For freeride in the off-piste, any powder seeker will easily find fresh lines, albeit without long uninterrupted fall line.

Below the tree line, a combined ski and sled trail leads down to the base at Blatten. Rated a blue trail, be wary of taking beginners down it, other than perhaps early in the day when it is freshly groomed. The 8km run becomes increasingly testing as its tight bends get bumped and scoured by the traffic. In good snow, options to avoid the trail and ski off-piste to the bottom provide the better way down for those determined not to download on the gondola!

Belalp Skiing Highlights

Give the following highlights a try while at Blatten-Belalp:
  • If contemplating going to a gnarlier ski resort on a powder day near Brig, instead got to Belalp and have the fresh snow all to yourself.
  • On a powder day, lap the freeride terrain to the skiers right of the Hohstock T-bar all the way down to the Sparrhorn chair (a not too shabby 1,000m vertical) & if it is open, do the same via the 'Tunnel of Love". Avalanche safety equipment required.
  • On a non-powder day, early in the morning, head to the 3,112m high top of the resort at Hohstock and descent the groomed pistes the full 1,790m of vertical all the way down to the Blatten-bei-Naters without stopping. The distance of 14km will test the toughest skier & snowboarder.
  • Intermediates should head to the Sparrhorn chair and cut fast laps on it before any crowds arrive (not that there are any here!).
  • Take a lunch ski expedition run down from Sparrhorngrat (2,860m) to the historic lodge at Aletschbord (2,100m). Not only is the traditional fare at Aletschbord's Hotel Belalp delicious, but the views over the snout of the Aletsch glacier and into the Rhone valley are sensational. Whilst in good snow it would be possible to ski off-piste into Blatten from Aletschbord, the usual return to the ski area is via a winter walking trail (skating) and the Farrichlift.
  • Ski to an après session in the afternoon at Chalet Sepp to then undertake the ultimate Belalp rite of passage. As the sun disappears and the gondola stops turning for the day, the only way down is via the 8km long sled run. The sledding trail is heavily utilised during the day by skiers and sledders alike. By the afternoon, even though rated ‘blue’, it more closely resembles a double black diamond run. With a 6-pint handicap in fading light, the run is super fun and a tad frightening. Bring a headlamp. You have been warned! Of course, you could forgo the ski down (the coward's option) and stay the night at the Sepp or the nearby Hamilton Lodge.

Ski Lifts

From the base village of Blatten, a gondola & cable car transport passengers up to the Belalp alpine terrain. The better lift to take up is the gondola to Kühmatte - a quicker journey and better access to the adjoining ski lifts & terrain. Alighting at over 2,000m elevation you get a sense that you are gonna have a good day. An excellent learn to ski area with a witch theme (Hexenland), ski rental, repairs, ski school and a few bar/restaurants that double as ski-in ski-out accommodation are all located at the top of the gondola. Three chairlifts extend over rolling terrain to service the bulk of the piste trails which are mainly intermediate and in parts unnecessarily narrow. Whilst of little interest to powder hounds, they are perfect for family groups and children.

The top of the long Sparrhorn 6-seater chairlift fully displays the best of the Belalp skiing possibilities. Long groomed pistes extend down, and for the more advanced, two T-bars extend up. The T-bars, Sparrhorngrat & Hohstock, add around 200 & 450m vertical respectively.

Hohstock T-bar tops out at over 3112m elevation and provides the opportunity to ski uninterrupted the entire vertical and 14km back down to the base in Blatten, albeit with a little bit of pushing along one long flat section.

On-Piste Terrain

Big stats (1760m vertical, 14km longest run) usually mean BIG ski terrain, but in reality Belalp provides the most genteel of ski experiences in the region. Not a bad thing, but if an advanced or expert freerider, just don’t expect an Andermatt, Engelberg, Muerren-Schilthorn or Verbier type ski experience. Whilst the pitch of terrain is a little disappointing for serious freeriders, the lack of crowds on a powder day is not!

Novice & Beginner

Novices & children will doubtless be drawn to 2,047m high Kühmatte and the Hexenland area at the top of the gondola from Blatten. Numerous surface lifts 7 conveyors allow for easy learning on the gentle terrain. From there, beginners can progress along the 3 chairlifts (Kelchbach, Bruchegg, Sparrhorn) eventually achieving long runs descending over 600m vertical. Beginners could descent the 8km long home trail to Blatten, but only early in the day before it is chewed up by sledders.

Intermediate

Intermediate snow-sliders will be able to enjoy all the Belalp on-piste trails regardless of rating. There is generally little to differentiate the blue & red trails here, and the black trails are light enough to be negotiable with relative ease. As mentioned above, don’t discount a speedy descent on the 8km home trail to Blatten, early in the day before it is chewed up by sledders. The pick of the intermediate runs are off the Sparrhorn chair either 500m vertical down into Aletschbord (the bottom section was previously rated black!) or the 550m vertical drop combining trail 4 into 25 back down to the bottom of the chair.

Advanced

Advanced on-piste terrain is limited is limited to the upper edge of the mountain extending from two T-bars at the top of the Sparrhorn chairlift. The Sparrhorngrat & Hohstock T-bars add around 200 & 450m vertical respectively to the skiable terrain and. Groomed trails off the T-bars include several marked ‘black’, but they are anything but, perhaps ‘light black’ or ‘grey’! Through the tunnel at the top of the resort is the long Westseite run, but the advanced riders' main interest at Blatten-Belalp is the off-piste.

Snowboarding at Blatten-Belalp

Belalp is overall not the most snowboard friendly ski resort in the world. There are a few trails best avoided that have flat or even uphill sections, particularly connections between Aletschbord & Belalp. The best terrain is off either of the upper T-bars, but they may challenge some snowboarders not used to using these sorts of lifts.

Freeride, Off-Piste & Backcountry

On a powder day a worthwhile option is to lap the freeride terrain to the skiers right of the Hohstock T-bar all the way down to the Sparrhorn chair (a not-too-shabby 1,000m vert). It would be easy to spend the day doing this, particularly if the ‘tunnel of love’ is open. The tunnel, at the top of Hohstock, provides easy access to another huge bowl extending the freeride possibilities even further. Navigating the off-piste in reasonable visibility at Belalp is relatively easy for the uninitiated. The marked ski routes have only appeared on the trail map in recent times, following our visit.

The lower 'front side' terrain under the cable car & gondola back into Blatten has some tasty tree & steep(ish) alpine meadow terrain that is left unsullied by most of the Belalp crowd. Unless it is super cold, probably best skied early. Look out for on-coming traffic is crossing the sled trail on the way down. Another option is descending from Aletschbord and linking up with one of the lower winter walking trails back into town.