“Haute Route” are magical words for mountain-lovers. The world-famous ski and glacier tour goes from Chamonix in France to Zermatt through the Valais Alps. Maxence Carron is a passionate mountain biker. Together with a friend, he developed similar multi-day routes for e-mountain bikes, following single tracks instead of glaciers.
45 snow-covered 4,000-metre peaks sit majestically at the end of steeply rising valley flanks: the Valais Alps are certainly impressive. Crossing them is a superlative experience. In the midst of the Alpine group lies the side valley of Val d’Anniviers, which stretches south from Sierre in the Rhone Valley for around 20 kilometres.
In terms of scenery, the route from La Sage in the Val d’Hérens to the Hotel Weisshorn in the Val d’Anniviers is the highlight of the multi-day Haute Route e-mountain bike. As is well known, however, such highlights have to be earned first. The electric motor doesn’t do the climb for you, but it does make ascents much easier. The journey from the tranquil mountain village of La Sage (1,668m above sea level) up to Col de Torrent (2,916m above sea level) takes just under three hours. Except for a few metres total ascent below the pass, you can ride the entire trail. As soon as we reach the top, the curtain of cloud lifts. It's not the journey up that will take your breath away, but the sight of these majestic snow peaks.
The passionate mountain biker has discovered many countries by bike. While cycling through Mongolia during one of those trips, Maxence, who is a native of Valais, met Adrià Mercadé, a like-minded cycling enthusiast. Fascinated by this way of travelling and convinced of the potential of the e-mountain bike, they founded e-Alps in 2019: a provider of multi-day e-mountain bike tours through the Valais Alps.
The e-Haute Route — an adventure for everyone and anyone
Founded in the middle of the 19th century by the British Alpine Club, the “Haute Route” from Chamonix to Zermatt is probably considered the best-known high-alpine crossing of the Alps today. Maxence's idea: Whatever thrills are to be had on touring skis and on foot are also available to e-mountain bikers. In addition to the original 7-day tour, the clever mountain biker also developed a shorter e-Haute route from Verbier. The technically easier 4-day Family & Friends Haute Route is very popular. “The e-mountain bike makes it possible to experience an extraordinary adventure together and share great emotions,” Maxence tells us with a smile. “We've had a 70-year-old couple with us, parents with teenagers, a 30-year-old daughter with her mother — and everyone appreciated the shared experience immensely.”
The only thing you have to do is pedal — and even that with comes with support
Aside from a little more sunshine, it couldn't be any more perfect: A picnic table set with a host of Valais specialities on the shore of the glacial lake, lovingly decorated with freshly picked willowherbs, with the impressive Moiry glacier in the background. This kind of service will make hungry bikers’ hearts skip a beat. Arrive, enjoy, soak up the scenery and atmosphere — this is what a holiday looks like. After a helping of coffee and home-made cake, it’s time to change the batteries. Hunger satisfied and with a fully charged battery, the voyage of discovery can continue.
Grimentz — a mountain village straight out of a picture book
Val d'Anniviers is not only known for the mighty snow giants at the bottom of the valley. It is particularly enchanting with its picturesque mountain villages. One of which is Grimentz. The car-free main alley is lined with sun-baked wooden houses and old granaries. In summer, the black of the wood forms a contrasting backdrop for a dazzling display of fiery red geraniums for which Grimentz has become internationally famous. This popular tradition which is an integral part of the village image goes back more than 90 years.
An additive paradise of e-bike trails
Die-hard mountain bikers know: The trails of Valais are some of the best in the entire Alpine region. Due to the large difference in altitude, we encounter various types of vegetation. The character and conditions of the paths are also constantly changing, ranging from rock and gravel in the alpine terrain to knotty roots and endless flowing trails through the larch forests. Such an intense downhill rush might make you forget to stop for a break.
Accommodation with character
The goal of the day is approaching. The 130-year-old Hotel Weisshorn towers high above the valley like an eagle's nest. It can only be reached on foot or by bike. “We have deliberately chosen very special, typical accommodation,” Maxence explains. Overnight stays range from a historic boutique hotel and a converted barn to a rustic cabin with outdoor hot tub and a campfire. The diversity reflects a piece of Valais cultural heritage — and each accommodation is an experience in itself.
Published: May 2021