Guide to Central Valais -Winter Section-

This guide has been written for customers of the Chalet Mazel in Nax. All references assume you start form Nax. The guide has been assembled from 15 + years of experience in the area and is intended as a living document.

Please send any additions and improvements to the author for inclusion in the next revision.

The guide is organised into 10 main headings. Some extracts grouped as Summer, Winter, Flora & Fauna Culinary & Bibliography have been ported to the WEB site. Others may appear with time.

Some sections are far more complete than others, sometimes I have the extra material but it has not yet been Web formatted.

The guide runs to c 25 pages of A4 when printed. The Web version has been kept graphic free to speed up downloading. It is assumed you have maps and can read them.

To navigate just pick a main category from the choices and descend through the index levels. Alternatively you might wish to browse, for instance, the walking section from the top.  Walking is filed under   Summer(Topography)

Happy hunting

Winter activities



Ski touring


Winter climbing




Nax is in the very heart of Skiing country. The village has its own ski system, which is quiet and not crowded. The Nax ski pass also covers the entire Hérens region that includes Evolène, Arolla & Thyon.

The Nax system starts with a chair lift located a mile uphill of the village. The post bus terminates at the lift and there is a very large car par. The lift goes to La Dzorniva at an altitude of 2000 metres. There is a restaurant and a learner area at the top of the lift. Three further drag-lifts stretch up Mont Noble to nearly 2400 meters elevation. It is quite feasible to ski back through the forests to chalet Mazel providing you know the way.

There is a good sports shop in the village called Starski, which retails and hires all types of skis, sledges, tennis rackets etc.

All the resorts listed below are within 45 minutes driving of Nax and offer excellent skiing. The nearest alternatives are Vercorin and Evolène. Both of these are larger systems than Nax. Crans and Nendaz(Verbier/Mont Fort) have summer skiing on glaciers

All the resorts listed below are within 45 minutes driving of Nax and offer excellent skiing. The nearest alternatives are Vercorin and Evolène. Both of these are larger systems than Nax. Crans and Nendaz(Verbier/Mont Fort) have summer skiing on glaciers

Resort Height (m) Drag Lifts Chair Lifts Cable Cars Ski de fond
Aminona 1500 24 5 8 17
Anzère 1500 7 4 1 12
Arolla 2003 5     12
Chandolin/St Luc 1936 5 2   8
Thyon 1780-2000 8 3 1 4
Crans - Montana 1520 25 7 8 40
Evolène 1378 6 1   15
Grimentz 1570 8 1 1 22
Les Haudères 1433 3 10    
Leukerbad 1411 8 3 4 20
Nax 1400 7 1   5
Nendaz/Siviez 1300-1700 40 40 15 55
Ovronnaz 1350-2500 1 7    
Vercorin 1341 7   2 7
Zinal 1680 8   1 12
Total   159 77 56 197


There are indoor rinks in Sion & Sierre. Various mountain villages also have open-air (winter) rinks. Les Haudères, Vercorin, Crans are just a few suggestions. Winter activities

Off piste Skiing

    The Hérens area is a centre for Ski Randonnée & Ski de Fond.

    The best locations for prepared piste Ski de Fond is Evolène and Zinal.

Evolène is the nearest and has many miles of loipes. The village of Satarma on the Arolla road is ideal for beginners as it is quiet and has some interesting going.

Ski de fond gear is cheap to hire (around 15 CHF/day) and easy if strenuous to perform. However there is quite a knack to doing it economically and elegantly.

Ski Randonnée or Ski Touring makes use of modified down-hill skis with skins attached for friction when climbing. It is the hard man’s alpine sport and Hérens is one of the best centres. Claude Angeloz, the Starski boss, is quite an authority and contributes to the official black guide books. Starski hire equipment.

Light weight ski-touring equipment has not really caught on in the Alps, which is surprising. Metal edged skis with 75mm bindings and leather boots are ideal for the forest tracks. These tracks are a bit tough on ski de fond gear, this really need prepared loipes.

Most of our summer walks are feasible, if you are very fit, on skis. Passes are an obvious goal as the ski descent will normally be in a snow filled gully. The Col de Torrent above Villa is a very popular venue. Good guide books and or human guides are essential, as is adequate mountain craft.

See bibliography for guide books. Winter activities

Snow Shoeing

Snow shoes are now a real alternative to skis for the un initiated. You need no instruction and can go almost anywhere. The only snag is it is about twice as time consuming as walking the same route.

Snow shoes can be hired from Starski or purchased in most ski shops. A good plastic pair costs c £75. The best are North American aluminium framed versions these cost £150m-£200 but are definitely worth it. You also need a telescopic ski pole or two and good legs.

Modern shoes have built in crampons and you can go straight up gradients of c 35%. A steeper hill means traversing which is tricky as the shoes have no ski edges or kicking steps. Nax forest is terrific for snow shoes. The lower parts of most of our summer walks are also suitable.

Click here to link to our Web pages on snowshoes.   These have been compiled as almost no written information exists.

Winter activities

Winter Climbing

The black topological books detail all the local specialities. The Arolla area is the best place to hire guides. Winter activities