Saturday 21 October 2017

Domodossola - just a train ride away

Just an hour's train ride from Sierre and you're in Italy and the beautiful historic town of Domodossola. The old town dates back to the C14th and wandering around you'll definitley come into the Piazza Mercato - an irregular shaped square surrounded by elegant medieval town houses with beautiful balconies and loggias.

Wander the medieval street and churches
Domodossola has long been a hub town which became more important in the early 1800's when Napolean finished the building of the road across the Simplon pass, one hundred year's later the railway tunnel was opened allowing even easier connections with Switzerland.

It's a great day out - topped off with a coffee and a delicious Italian ice-cream at 1/3 of the price.  PK

Monday 26 June 2017

Vallon de Rechy - downhill (nearly) all the way

Alpenrose in bloom as we descend from the Cret
Views of La Maya at the head of the valley
The gondolas in Vercorin started their summer timetable last weekend. With the current heatwave the 1000m ride up to the top of the Cret de Midi at 2330m meant the air was a lot cooler and we reached the start of one of the area's more gentle mountain walks and prettiest ways into the Rechy valley  - without even needing to walk up hill.
Flowering marsh meadows at l'Ar du Tsan
Crossing back before starting our descent
From the top of the Cret we followed a wonderful gentle descending traverse that scribed the hillside south, past blooming alpenrose, to the buttercup filled marsh meadows at L'Ar du Tsan (2180m). From here you could turn north and continue to descend (more steeply) to the next flat area at La Le and the start of the bisse waterway which flows with you all the way back to Vercorin. But we decided to extend our route and climbed up to the next flat area (near Lac Louche) for closer views of La Maya and a great picnic spot before making a loop which brought us back to the Tsan meadows and on down. A great day out.   PK
Descending from Tsan to La Le

Thursday 6 April 2017

Ahead of the game

Frogs have already laid their eggs in the ponds in Zinal
Spring has definitely arrived early this year. The swallows and martins flew in at least 3 weeks ago and up in Zinal the frogs have filled the little pond with spawn, the willows are in full flower and the Plats de la Lee has virtually no snow on it
Pussy willow in full flower
It's been about 4 weeks since we were last able to  cross country ski here

Friday 17 March 2017

One fine day

It's been a week of blue sky and warm spring weather but the forecast says it's changing at the weekend. So today we headed up to the Cabane d'Arpitettaz for lunch out on the terrace. After a 1200m climb a cheese sandwich never tasted so good. The view up to the glacier is amazing, as was the spring snow we found on the ski back down. PK

Tuesday 28 February 2017

Where the river runs through

The gorge at the end of the 'Plats'
The southern end of the 'Plats' flood plain is blocked by a wall of rock -while the footpath climbs up and over, the Navisence river has cut down through it, forming a narrow gorge. This steep gorge is impassable in summer due to high water levels, but at this time of year you can climb across the exposed boulders and work your way up gorge. It's a wild mysterious place - especially today with the swirling mist and low cloud. PK

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Tele-marking time

You don't need much snow to have knee deep powder.
After some promising snow in November, we had virtually nothing in December. In fact, it was the third driest month recorded in the last 150 years, and the level 4 hazard was for fire not avalanche. However, there was enough cold for the resort to make snow and so, as we waited for the season to really begin, we took up our telemark skis and started to practice.

Last April we decided to give tele-marking a go, and spent four days with Nicko of Telemark Tracks ( over in Val d'Isere. (You can read how we got on in the follow feature in the Financial Times )

When conditions require you to stay on the groomed stuff, this is certainly one way to not get bored with the piste. We've moved from blues to red and (with a bit of fresh snow) to some gentle off piste. More practice required but things are slowly getting better - as are the snow conditions. PK

Wednesday 30 November 2016


View from the kitchen sink
From our kitchen window we get a fabulous view of the steep, rocky, NW face of the Besso - this evening it had a rosy alpenglow, against a clear sky scattered with a few early stars. At 3667m it's not the highest mountain in the valley, but it's perhaps the most distinctive.  The two peaks gave it its name - 'Besso' meaning double or twin in the old local patois.

It was probably first climbed in the 1860's by two local guides via a route not seen from the house. The 'standard' route to the summit starts from the Grand Mountet hut, and goes up the rocky, and at times exposed, SE ridge. The view from the top should be amazing but for now I'm happy with my view from the window...  PK
Views and colours of the NW face of the Besso
From the ski domain it looks quite tiny - seen in the centre of the picture