Snow-covered trees and wildlife: a Saas Valley snowshoe hike with local guides is a truly unique experience.
Above: A picture is worth a thousand words.
Photos: Puzzle Media
Text: Patrick Gasser
Translation: Adam Spensley & Danielle Moore
When the marmots’ calls can no longer be heard, when the forest animals have retreated to their burrows, you know that winter is on its way. By November, a blanket of white will have settled over the Saas Valley. The autumnal shades of the larch forests will give way to a wintry fairytale landscape. "The tranquility of the woods is especially inspiring in winter," says Aldo Lomatter. The 63-year-old from Saas-Fee knows what he's talking about; as a mountain guide, he has led hundreds of guests to mountain summits. But you do not have to opt for an arduous summit or ski tour in order to enjoy the Saas Valley. "If you're looking for a relaxing excursion on your holiday, then a snowshoe tour is just right for you," says Aldo.
Above: The snowy forests of Saas-Fee
The concept is as old as time: greater contact surface underfoot means a better distribution of weight, which in turn prevents sinking in deep snow. In 2003 in South Tyrol, military personnel discovered the oldest known snowshoe to date, with laboratory tests revealing it to be almost 6000 years old. A flexed birch branch frame with branches tied across it ensured that Neolithic hikers did not sink when traversing the Alpine passes.
Above: Perfect for snowshoe hikes
Like the Neolithic hunter-gatherers before them, Aldo and his guests make their way unhurriedly through the snow. The materials have changed significantly since then; snowshoes with serrated treads provide the necessary grip, and they can easily be adapted to the wearer’s footwear. Saas-Fee Guides AG provide their guests with both snowshoes and poles. With experienced guides like Aldo you will discover the best of the Saas Valley’s snowy forests. With a little luck, chamois and other forest animals can be spotted too. "If you move calmly and quietly enough, you are sure to come across creatures in the forest," says Aldo.
Above: With snowshoeing you can recharge your batteries and get some exercise at the same time.
"The tranquility of the woods is especially inspiring in winter." Aldo Lomatter, Mountain Guide
Left: Mountain guide Aldo Lomatter leads his guests through the woods.
And what better way to top off a leisurely day in the wilderness than with a glass of wine by the fire? Great options include Dü, the homely fondue restaurant, or the Hotel Capra’s lounge. On request, the Saas-Fee Guides can also organize a cozy evening in a mountain hut for your group. What’s more, a snowshoe hike by night is an unforgettable experience, especially under a full moon.
Above: Like a scene from a Lord of the Rings movies.
GOOD TO KNOW
For a snowshoe tour you will need warm and functional winter clothing as well as good, sturdy footwear (hiking boots preferable). Snowshoes and poles are provided by Saas-Fee Guides AG.
Prices start at CHF30 per person for a group tour.