Aletsch is an impressive 23 km long glacier which starts from 4000 meters above sea level going down to 2,500 meters, with a depth in the thickest point of 900 meters and an area of 86 square kilometers, impressive measures which make it the largest glacier of Europe, with a great landscape value.
Since 2001 this white giant wonder is a World Heritage Site with the official name of Swiss Alp Jungfrau-Aletsch.
But the numbers don’t do justice to this phenomenon of nature, to understand fully its vastness is necessary to admire it. But, do not worry, it is not mandatory to be accomplished or reckless climbers, you just have to go to the Aletsch Arena.
Located not far from the Italian border (just 50 km), the Aletsch Arena is offered in any season to all categories of people: from athletics to families with children-grandparents-dog, thanks to a widespread network of trails including reckless skiing or mountain biking, but also peaceful walks without difficult climbing.
One thing makes the area unique: the view, which has the long, spectacular Aletsch glacier!
First things first: the location is in Switzerland, only about ten kilometers east of Brig, easily reached by an efficient train and bus system.
View from the valley road, it does not look so impressive: a curtain of woods steep upward closing any visual. We must board the cable car.
Whatever cable car you choice, all carry over a kind of step that opens to wide plateaus dominated by almost vertical walls, with a breathtaking view that opens to the south, in the direction of a large number of major peaks between which stands the unmistakable Matterhorn (4478 m) and the Dom (4545 m).
The three main villages of Aletsch Arena (Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp) are very typical, with the centers closed to traffic and typical houses, but each of them can further go up as well as to overcome the rocks and admire a real ice sea: the Aletsch glacier.
Let’s start from the West: the first village is Riederalp (1925 m) and can be reached starting from the station of the valley of Morel (759 m) through the small village of Ried-Mörel (1188 m), or directly passing over the Breiten villages (900 m – without stop, which there’s a fantastic facility for spa treatments with sea water), and Greich (1361 m).
From here you can hop on the chairlift to the viewpoint of Hohfluh (2277m) in the heart of the Aletsch Forest (Aletschwald), protected nature reserve since 1933, where are the oldest Swiss stone pine. Anyone wishing to explore the natural aspect, as well as hiking in the beautiful trails, can travel to Villa Cassel where there’s is a permanent exhibition of natural history and a botanical garden with 350 species of plants (from Riederalp: 150 vertical meters, a couple of kilometers). For a higher point of view we climb by cable car up to the balcony of Moosfluh (2333 m), located on the highest point of Aletschwald and from which the glacier is in contrast with the vegetation.
The easy itinerary: go up by cable car from Riederalp to Moosfluh, and then along footpath number 89 that passes through the viewpoint of Hohfluh and down to Villa Cassel, and then returned to Riederalp (5 km total, 400 meters difference in altitude).
The second village is Bettmeralp (1950 m), reachable by cable cars of Betten Taltstation (826 m) either directly or via Betten Dorf (1203 m). Bettmeralp is the most fascinating of the three villages and the one with the most typical houses. Here the cars are strictly banned and there are only service cars of the hotel, strictly electric. Magnificent location of the church, lying on green lawns with a relaxing view.
From here we climb towards the Bettmerhorn (2647 m), fantastic point of view of the glacier which lies at the feet of visitors. After passing the large restaurant, you can reach through a wooden footbridge a balcony overlooking the valley where the view extends from right to left in almost the whole width of the 23 kilometers of the glacier. After having filled your eyes with the landscape, you can visit the multimedia exhibition “The world of the Bettmerhorn Glacier (Bettmerhorn Eiswelt)” with talking mannequins, games for children and curious information about the glacier and its surroundings.
The easy itinerary: go up by cable car to the Bergstation Bettmerhorn, then go down the path number 87 leading to Hohbalm and then to the point of view of Moosfluh, then descend by cable car to Riederalp and return on foot to Bettmeralp (300 meters of descent and 3 km from Bettmerhorn to Moosfluh, 100 meters of ascent and 2 km from Riederalp to Bettmeralp).
The challenging itinerary: from the upper station of the Bettmerhorn to the summit itself (2858 m), the difficulty is not so much the difference in altitude (200 meters uphill) but the presence of stairs and exposed points.
The third location is Fiescheralp (2212 m), which is reached from the Fiesch valley station (1049 m), home of paragliders. From here you can climb by cable car to the highest and spectacular of all viewpoint: the Eggishorn (2869 m). Already from the station the view is gorgeous as you see the glacier curve with a clear view on the glacier source and the peaks that tower above it: Aletschhorn (4193 m), Jungfrau (4158 m), Mönch (4107 m) and Eiger ( 3970 m).
Three superb balcony with a unique view, so breathtaking the a mixed feeling between feeling tiny and being part of something great and immense grow in your soul. On all three points of view there are yoga meditation stations.
The easy itinerary: a path of rocks, steep at the end, leading to the top real dell’Eiggshorn (2926 meters), a real balcony suspended on ice! (100 vertical meters).
The challenging itinerary, Aletsch Panoramaweg: after climbing by cable car to the Bergstation Bettmerhorn, you go down in the partly rocky path toward Chumme Roti (2369 m) to follow down the path number 152 that almost touches the edge of the glacier and brings to Märjelensee lakes ( 2302 m), fed by the glacier itself. Bypassing then the Eggishorn, you return to the path 53b to Fiescheralp (2212 m) and on the dirt path you reach Bettmeralp (430 vertical meters uphill and 865 meters downhill, about 15 kilometers, from 4 to 5 hours walk).