by: Patrick Thorne - 23rd January 2007

  • 4
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced/Expert
  • 4All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 4Family Friendly
  • 3Aprés Ski
  • 3Terrain Park
  • Overall Value

Full review

Leukerbad Leukerbad’s curative waters have been well known since Roman times. Every day 3.9 million litres of thermal water flow into the private and public pools. With a total of 22 thermal pools (indoor and outdoor) Leukerbad is home to the largest thermal pool offer in the Alps. In the impressive “Burgerbad” complex visitors can enjoy 11 pools with temperatures between 28° C and 44°C, looking up at the mighty peaks all around, such as the magnificent Balmhorn (3699m) from the outdoor pools. Winter sports haven’t been around so long, but there have been ski lifts here for more than 50 years. They’ve recently been upgraded in part but with a large poart of the clientelle of this resort here for the hot water, not the snow, the slopes are often delightfully quiet. The mixed ages of clientelle, largely from German speaking nations give Leukerbad coupled with the smart town and impressive scenery make Leukerbad a rather cosmopolitan destination. There are three different access points to the main slopes, a chair at the edge of town, as well as a cable car and a gondola at separate departure points. Ask the ski bus driver to take you to the best on the day. There are two drag lifts and a quad chair by the village so most skiers and boarders past beginner level take the cable car across the valley up to the bigger ski area above with 60 km (35 miles) of slopes of all levels of difficulty (but mostly reds and blacks), including some World Cup training runs. Six drag lifts a chair and a cable car connect the skiing areas of Torrent and Albinen. From the top at 2.700m there are spectacular views over the Valais and Bernese Alps with their 4.000m peaks. The heart of the ski area is the Rinderhutte, above the treeline at 2340m in the centre of a giant powder field, where seven lifts arrive or depart, including the top of the main cable car up from resort. Most of the ski lifts from here are drags. Experts should carry on up lifts E and H to the top where they’ll find a succession of black trails (Numbers 3, 4 and then as you hit the treeline, hopefully not literally, 5) that can take them quickly down the full 1,200 metre vertical to resort. Intermediates can do the same thing over a longer, less steep route, from the top of lift H – taking red runs 6, 8 and 9 in succession. There are plenty of off piste and tree skiing opportunities around Leukerbad’s slopes. The best route up to get maximum vertical is to take the cable car up to Rinderhutte, then drags E and H in succession to reach the top ridge. From there, after a little hike, it’s possible to make a variety of top to bottom descents, starting with the open powder field before dropping down in to the trees above the resort. To find your way, hire a guide.
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