Overall Rating

St Luc Chandolin

St Luc Chandolin3.5/51
St Luc Chandolin3.5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
Europe Tours

Nearby Ski Resorts

Crans Montana
Grimentz Zinal
Vercorin

     St Luc Chandolin Ski Trail Map
  • St Luc Chandolin Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,680m – 2.980m (1,300m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    6-8m
  • Lifts (15)
    1 Funicular
    3 Chairs
  • Opening Dates & Times
    Late Nov to late April
    8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs - 60km
    Longest run – 8+ km
    Advanced - 17%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Beginner - 33%
  • Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 19/20
    St Luc Chandolin only
    Adult – CHF58
    Child – CHF35
    Child u/6yr – Free

    Val d’Anniviers Pass
    Valid Grimentz Zinal, St Luc Chandolin & Vercorin
    Adult – CHF62
    Child – CHF37
    Child u/6yr – Free
    Magic Pass also valid
     Val d’Anniviers Ski Resort Map
  • Val d’Anniviers Ski Resort Map

St Luc Chandolin - Reviews

St Luc Chandolin - Reviews

Traditional Swiss Ski Package

30/12/2019

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE

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  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    February
  • Admin Rating
    5

Traditional Swiss Ski Package

30/12/2019

Would anyone baulk at the prospect of a few days in a traditional Swiss ski resort that boasted a gorgeous village devoid of humanity, 1300m of skiable vertical, fresh turns inbounds days after a snowfall, wonderful hospitality & loads of yodelicious Swiss Alps scenery? Probably not. So why has no one heard of St Luc Chandolin? And why aren't you (the reader!) going there?

One of three awesome Val d'Anniviers ski resorts in the French speaking part of the Valais, Switzerland, St Luc Chandolin oozes local tradition in a spectacular setting with some great sun-drenched skiing & relaxed vibe without the pretence & flashy trimmings that comes with so many ski areas. An aging set of ski lifts, a lax local ski bus & some interrupted fall line terrain are its main drawbacks, but the positives overwhelming outweigh the negatives. Travelling here from just across the valley at the major ski area of Crans Montana, couldn’t have highlighted the differences more starkly. And being different is good. No self-respecting Powderhound likes cookie cutter, same-same resorts & this is definitely not one of them.

The majority of the St Luc / Chandolin ski & snowboard terrain is above 2000m, so snow quality & quantity are in abundance. Only one major lift is below that; the St Luc funicular which is used for access .The two sides of the ski area are neatly split by a prominent ridge.

Much of the terrain in the upper St Luc sector is rolling, low pitch, interrupted fall line. The piste is interspersed with some fun (& shortish) off-piste pitches. On piste, the groomers are predominantly delightful wide, easy beginner & intermediate runs. Exceptions are the shaded pistes into the Chandolin chairlift bases, the valley run to Le Prilet (a rousing red rendition) & the enjoyable black ‘home trail’ down to the funicular. Both are worth doing early when freshly groomed – no one else seems to be bothered.

St Luc’s best freeride terrain is ……… anywhere in the Chandolin sector! Not quite true, but close. In St Luc, from the 3000mish Bella Tola, a traverse to the immediate skier’s right leads to some fine open bowls & couloirs for the best fall line turns. Otherwise there are a multitude of short pitches strewn throughout the main bowl in the ski area. Some nice steep pitches, couloirs & tree skiing is available off the ridge to the skier’s right of the Col des Ombintzes lift. For all its 1300m skiable vertical, I didn't get a sense of skiing it. Clearly it takes some time to work out tte best lines to makes the most of it. - a mystery worth clarifying over an extended visit.

With regards to ski lifts, one could be forgiven for thinking they have been teleported back to the glorious 1980s when visiting St Luc Chandolin. The lack of chairlifts (some notable exceptions) & prevalence of J-bar, T-bar & other surface conveyances provide a host of memories, many of them not great! But it does provide an insight into the lack of crowds here – no need for 8-seater express chairs. Some of the lifts are not well suited to inexperienced snowboarders & will upset those gone soft on a diet of 10-seater gondolas with heated seats. The top half of the Illhorn lift is particularly challenging – read ‘steep & fun’.

At the opposite end of the resort the Pas de Boeuf drag lift has the most zig & zags of any we have ever ridden. A surface lift with at least 4 changes in direction is an engineering marvel not to be trifled with – fitting that it is in a Swiss ski resort.

In the middle of the St Luc sector, the 2km long Col des Ombintzes provides the triple treat of a major link between St Luc & Chandolin, some steep couloirs (into Chandolin) & gentler freeride terrain (into St Luc); plus of course the excruciating, best forgotten experience of getting dragged along for a few km. Must be getting old. Enjoy!

The highest lifted point is via the Bella Tola J-bar which drags one up to around 3000m. Easy piste & some good freeride terrain greet those that have been dragged. From here the valley run to St Luc is over 1300m vertical & 8km via an isolated valley devoid of all human sound. The run is only lightly trafficked early, so if just riding on-piste for the day, it makes a pleasing start.

The most modern lifts are the La Forèt six-seater above St Luc & the Le Tsapè quad above Chandolin. On a powder day the quad provides the resort’s best access to freeride terrain appropriate for upper intermediate riders. The La Forèt is best for quick resort access & for the upper mountain off-piste & lower mountain tree terrain heading into Chandolin. After that, the big 6-seater is pretty much redundant to the day’s proceedings. An odd over capitalisation (only a few years ago) given its location. One would have thought that a smaller triple or quad would suffice & put some effort in to replacement the upper mountain surface lifts………. but what would I know!

One of the best eateries on the mountain is the small alpine hut – La Cohá at the base of the pain-inducing T-bar. Whilst the coffee is rubbish served in a paper cup, the raclette & polenta dishes plus the house made sweet tartes are worth sampling. Three more on-mountain restaurants provide the remaining culinary experience. The Bella Tola hut has the most charm of the remainder. Another, the Illhorn, near the Illhorn J-bar, wasn’t open so we are not even prepared to mention it. Ooops.

On mountain accommodation is limited & includes the concrete communism-inspired Tignousa at the top of the funicular at around 2175m elevation. There is no good reason to stay here, unless for budgetary or availability reasons or if you want first tracks on powder day (the best reason of all). The St Luc village below offers a far better experience.

St Luc village comprises a mix of traditional chalets (both ancient & modern versions in traditional style) with minimal hotels. The 19th century Hotel Bella Tola is an obvious exception & an easy option when staying here. The Hotel Weisshorn, jutting from a high ridge to the south of the resort would make an exceptional overnight location, but note it is only accessible by foot or ski in winter.

Getting to & around the ski area can be a bit of a mission. By public transport, the train to Sierre/Siders is a synch. The route 451 Postbus from Sierre gare (train station) runs up a steep, hair raising road to the pretty Val d’Anniviers village of Vissoie (Vis-wa!). In the centre of town, a bus change is required for the next destinations of either Grimentz (452 bus), Zinal (453 bus) or Saint Luc/Chandolin (454 bus). All three buses may well be lined up ready to go & all will leave at the same time (just for effect if nothing else!). On school days at around 4pm the centre of Vissoie is quite the sight as up to 6 buses jockey for position. Police are often on site to avoid any major calamities.

The bus from Vissoie does not go to the St Luc funicular, instead it drives through the heart of St Luc village & then on to the Chandolin chairlifts (but annoyingly not as far as the village of Chandolin itself). One of the chairlifts, Le Rotzè (an incredibly leisurely paced old triple from the mid-80s) leads directly to the St Luc ski area or some fine north-facing freeride terrain in Chandolin – depending on your tastes. Access to the funicular or Chandolin village is either by foot, ski or further local bus.

Be advised that on Friday & Sunday afternoons, the 451 bus can be jam packed full of penny pinching, environmentally-friendly powderhounds taking the cheap way up the valley to the ski resorts!

By car, care needs to be taken to avoid getting wiped out by the 451 bus on several narrow sections & hairpin bends. Once in Vissoie another tortuous series of switchbacks ascendis the short distance to the resort. Ample car parking is available. For day trippers, the best option is at the base of the modern La Forèt six-seater chairlift above St Luc. Additional car parking is near the Chandolin lift base, the funicular & in St Luc at the Poste (bus or a stiff walk required to the lifts).

Once in the St Luc side of the ski area, the ways back down into town are either via download on the funicular (noooo!), via the fun black run to the funicular base or via the fabulous valley run that ends at the distant Gite du Prilett (a quality guesthouse, restaurant & bar, plus the obligatory sun terrace - pleasing for a well-earned coffee or lunch). The valley run is quiet & infrequently trafficked until later in the day. You will likely have it all to yourself. If arriving here at lunchtime, you will be a captive audience unless prepared to walk to the funicular because the already sluggish local bus takes a questionably long lunch break until 2pm. The funicular is 15min walk away via either the road, or more interestingly via a signposted walking track that leads slightly uphill to the right – skiable in good snow.

The village of Chandolin can be reached on ski via on/off-piste or by a second local bus that allegedly runs between the chairlift base & the village. Might be quicker walking as the bus frequency is a question no seems to be able to answer with any conviction.

For all my apparent moaning in this review one would think I didn’t like St Luc Chandolin. Quite the opposite actually. I am quite smitten by it. One of the many classic Swiss ski resorts that time has largely forgotten, we have placed it on our secret stash list – a place to go when the hordes have descended elsewhere, and you need a bolthole.