Aletsch – a high-energy site

“Peace and tranquillity are a true luxury,” – of this, Art Furrer and Olympic snowboarding champion Patrizia Kummer are convinced. That’s why the Aletsch Arena is where they recharge their batteries.

Art Furrer notices something strange when looking at his hotels on the Riederalp at night: the lights are still burning in the rooms of the Asian guests long after midnight. His first thought is for the electricity bill, but then his curiosity is piqued: why haven’t they gone to bed yet? They don’t seem to feel all that tired. And he discovers that the visitors from China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong are actually not in their rooms, but out on their balconies looking up at the night sky. “They are gazing at the stars in awe. The clear sky studded with shining, twinkling objects is not something they normally get to see in their smog-ridden cities.”

The hotelierand legendary ski acrobat can well understand the tourists. He too has spent time far from home, having made a life for himself in the USA as a young man. On returning to Riederalp, he became a hotel owner and the most passionate ambassador a holiday resort could ever wish for. He skis every day in winter and goes hiking in summer. He knows the Aletsch Arena like the back of his hand – along with the local inhabitants and regular visitors. So, naturally, he has known Patrizia Kummer since she was a child. The three-time Snowboard World Cup overall winner and Olympic gold medallist in the parallel giant slalom spends a lot of time on the Riederalp: this is where her grandmother lives and her aunt runs the “Buffet” at the middle station for the cable car. “We are a very sporty family, and we used to go skiing and snowboarding on Fiescheralp on Sundays. We’d drop in on my grandmother here at Riederalp for lunch.” She has come back this Sunday to visit her aunt. As a young adult, Patrizia Kummer dreamed of the big, wide world and had only one desire in life: to go and explore it. Thanks to her snowboarding career, the 28-year-old has had more chances than most to do so. But she returns to “her” Valais whenever she has the time. Even during the racing season she still tries to make sure she can spend at least one day a week at home. “The Aletsch Arena is my favourite energy spot. This is where I come to recharge.”

Everything is simply stronger and more intense, but also more human in the region of Aletsch.

Art Furrer also refers to his home as a high-energy site – he is convinced you can feel it. The Aletsch Arena, including Riederalp, Bettmeralp, Fiescheralp, Mörel, Betten, Fiesch, Fieschertal and Lax, commissioned a study into why this mountain region high above the Aletsch Glacier exudes such a powerful force and discovered that there are real places of energy here. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: the Great Aletsch Glacier is a vision of primeval beauty. High up at the Moosfluh, Bettmerhorn and Eggishorn viewpoints, you’ll find the best place to admire the scale and unique magic of the Great Aletsch Glacier. It is impossible not to be fascinated by this massive body of ice, which stretches over 23 kilometres from the point at which it originates in the Jungfrau region, at an altitude of 4,000m, down to the Massa Gorge, some 2,500m below. No wonder this high mountain area was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2001. Art Furrer knows that not everyone believes in such things as high-energy sites. “But it’s a known fact that earth radiation is not equally strong everywhere – no-one denies that. And here everything is simply stronger and more intense, but also more human. If anyone on the mountainside stops because they don’t feel well, a hiker or skier will immediately come to their aid. That doesn’t happen on the main street of any Swiss town I know.”

The car-free Alps are the ideal place for a short break or holiday in winter, he claims. Patrizia Kummer agrees, saying she can recover faster here than anywhere else. What is more: “The ski slope starts right in front of the hotel,” Furrer adds. “Everything is close at hand here, which makes it perfect for families.” Patrizia Kummer loves the fresh air and the views. “Since visiting cities affected by smog, I appreciate the air up here even more,” she states. Along with the guaranteed snow: the 104 kilometres of pistes are situated at 1,845 to 2,869 metres in altitude, ensuring perfect conditions from December to April. Anyone looking for peace and tranquillity will find it on a winter hike. 86 kilometres of prepared winter hiking trails are waiting to be discovered, with panoramic views of Valais’ four-thousanders and the Aletsch Glacier. “Peace and tranquillity are a new form of luxury,” says Art Furrer. He believes that nature, a mountain panorama and spirituality are what stressed people need. “And we can offer all those things up here on this sunny plateau.”

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