A beautiful hike in the canton of Valais in Switzerland, with the trail passing through alpine meadows with famous Herens cows, forests and a mountain lake. The charming Arpitettaz hut offers a magnificent setting with fantastic views of the Moming Glacier and surrounding mountains.
Hiking from Zinal to the Arpitettaz hut
We start our hike to the Arpitettaz hut from the village of Zinal located in the Val d’Anniviers in the canton of Valais. Situated at the altitude of 1’670m, Zinal nestles amidst majestic mountain peaks of the Weisshorn, Bishorn, Zinalrothorn, Obergabelhorn, Matterhorn and Dent Blanche. Starting in Zinal with its typical houses made of larch wood, we cross the wooden bridge over the La Navisence River and follow the path towards the bottom of the Zinal Valley.
We go through Le Vichiesso with its quaint Swiss chalets and follow the stream with roaring water. After the bridge over the Torrent de l’Arpitetta, a glacial stream draining the Arpitetta Valley, the trail goes through the plain followed by a declivity before wounding through a pine forest shading us from the hot sun. Leaving the forest with its pretty waterfalls, we face a bifurcation. Luckily, Switzerland is known for its well-marked hiking trails. At each major bifurcation there is a yellow sign, in the shape of an arrow, indicating directions with the approximate hiking time.
We continue through the grassy slopes and the pastures of Le Chiesso. The hike is easy, the views are clear, and the flowers are everywhere. The trail climbs a long, steep switchback through low-lying shrubs before emerging onto a more exposed mountainside at Lac d’Arpitettaz located at 2’248m. The sky is blue, but not for long. The clouds begin to accumulate when we approach the lake, a popular picnic spot with wonderful views. The Herens cows graze peacefully on its shores.
These iconic Swiss creatures are known as excellent climbers despite their short legs. They can easily climb up to 3,000m of altitude. The breeders appreciate them for their gentleness and attachment to the owner. Despite their gentle look, dominant females are real fighters. Cow fighting, known in Switzerland as the Battle of the Queens, is organised each spring, with the national finals taking place in Aproz.
The bright green shores are in a sharp contrast with the deep blue colour of the lake, which inspires for a swim. But we leave the swimming part for the brave-hearted. The water is freezing. We admire the serene, majestic views of the mountains before the sky gets covered. We still have about an hour of walking to get to the Arpitettaz hut. From the lake, the hiking trail, which goes first through the pastures, begins to climb. This is where the clouds and fog start to arrive. We are surprised by its density. The visibility is only a few meters.
Hiking along the steep hillside, we cross several gushing streams carrying glacial meltwater by using simple wooden planks, way too slippery in this weather. With thick fog and a little rain, the hike is now less enjoyable … The trail resumes its steep ascent through rocky meadows and scree covered slopes before getting gentler revealing the deep crevasses of the Moming Glacier. A final steep climb through rocky meadows leads to the hut. After five hours of a long, strenuous hike, we finally arrive at the hut.
The Arpitettaz Hut
Located at 2’786m at the foot of the Weisshorn, the Arpitettaz hut sits in a grandiose setting. It was built in 1953 by seven guides from Anniviers valley in an effort to develop mountaineering in the neighbouring valley of Zermatt. The terrace offers fantastic views of the Blanc de Moming and its impressive glacier. It’s cold, still we decide to sit on the terrace with a few beers to admire the sunset. By now the rain stopped and the sky cleared off.
Made of stone, the Arpitettaz hut is very cute but too small (it can accommodate only thirty-two hikers) to pay a guardian. Volunteers take turns and look after the hut during the hiking season. Used to have half-board in all the Swiss huts we stayed in, we are surprised to discover that the Arpitettaz hut doesn’t offer hot meals. But they serve soups and Valais Platter. Our hot soup tastes fantastic and the Valais Platter composed of bread, cheese, dried meat, sausages and bacon, is always a treat.
In the morning we feel lucky – early clouds have lifted letting glorious sunshine. The views are simply terrific! Surrounded by giant mountains with its vertical cliffs and the ice-covered peaks, we feel too small. Reluctantly, we start our descent to Zinal.
Access: The Arpitettaz hut located in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. Situated at 2’786m of altitude in Val d’Anniviers, it can be accessed from the village of Zinal.
Hiking Time: 4h30-5h of hiking from Zinal. The hike can be extended by returning to Zinal via Roc de la Vache.
Difficulty: Easy hiking: T2 (medium difficulty, mountain hiking), 13 km, 1’400m of elevation.
Accommodation: The Arpitettaz hut. It’s guarded only in summer (end June – end September) by volunteers. Accommodation in dormitories with mattresses, pillows and blankets. For hygienic reasons, all visitors are required to bring a light sleeping bag. Reservations are required. The hut provides a simple evening meal, generally without meat, as well as breakfast. You can also bring your own food, which the hut keeper will be happy to cook for you. The Arpitettaz hut belongs to the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) offering a discount to its members.
LOVED IT? PLEASE SHARE
Written by ANYWAYINAWAY
Olga and Errol are the Swiss-Russian couple behind ANYWAYINAWAY. Passionate about unique culture and traditions, they decided to take career breaks and explore the world with the intention to expand awareness and provide new perspectives to the understanding of ethnic minority people, customs, traditions and culture. They also show the beauty of our planet and try to find something interesting in the ordinary.