Zermatt has some of the world’s most enviable off-piste terrain. From soaring altitudes to hair-raising descents, it’s the ultimate destination for your next snow adventure. But with such a vast ski area, it’s difficult to know how to plan your week. Get an incredible backcountry experience with this guide to the best off-piste and heli-skiing in Zermatt.
If you’re looking for a tailor made week of heli skiing in Zermatt, or a weekend back country guided tour, then contact us today and we’ll create you an ultimate ski experience.
Zermatt’s Itinerary Ski Runs
The easiest introduction to off-piste skiing is to start on Zermatt’s itinerary runs. These are marked yellow on the map and open and close depending on safety regulations. They aren’t pisted or patrolled, so give you rugged terrain without the extra risk of avalanches. You still shouldn’t ski these runs alone and should make sure you have adequate insurance to cover you.
To ease into your itinerary run experience, start on the No.54 black run at Hirli. It’s one of the steepest pistes in Zermatt and will get your legs warmed up before you head back up the chairlift. From here you can take the 59 and 60 yellow runs down to Furi or cut across the slow slope and try No.58. All of these offer you lovely, sheltered routes through the trees with a few obstacles along the way.
The itinerary runs around Furi offer a variety of difficulties. Take the lifts up to Trockner Steg to get on the No. 67 or 68. There are also lots of red routes around here if you need a palette cleanser. Then take the No.62 black back to Furi where you can go to Schweigmatten and ride the No.43 back down the valley.
The Gornergrat and Rothorn areas are well connected with lots of itinerary routes to fill your days. Head to the top of Hohtalli and get on the No.30 Mittelritz run. The 700m descent has lots of fun bumps to get your legs burning. After this, you can take the No.25 black to Eja or head back to Hohtalli via Gant to access Rote Nase. The network of yellows in this area have some jaw-clenching 1000m descents.
Once back in Gant, take the chairlift to Blauherd and ski the No.10 or continue up to Rothorn. This is an opportunity to mix things up and give your legs a break. You can ski a mix of blues, reds, blacks, and yellows in whichever combination you prefer. Keep taking the cable car back up until you get tired or have exhausted all options.
Zermatt’s Backcountry Skiing
A stay in Zermatt gives you vast spaces of untouched snow at your fingertips. High altitudes and north-facing slopes provide great snow year-round.
Rothorn and Gornergrat are two well-linked areas suited to advanced skiers, so it’s a good place to start if you want to mix pisted and unpisted terrain. Gornergrat is great for building confidence but the off-piste slopes here get crowded, so move on once you’ve mastered the basics.
You’ll find that the terrain gets progressively better as you move further from Gornergrat towards Rothorn. Unless you get a dump of snow, avoid the area under the Gant chair lift. It’s a popular route and you won’t be making any fresh tracks. The best slopes around here require you to get away from the lifts and do some hiking. But the powder and exhilarating descents are worth it.
Head to the bustling Rothorn top station and head to the west of the mountain where you’ll find around 1000m of off-piste away from the crowds. The snow here falls victim to the afternoon sun so conditions can vary wildly. If you want something a little easier, go east and cut left down the Tufterchumme Valley.
On the other side of Zermatt, you’ll find fun opportunities around Schwarzee, Trockner Steg, and Klein Matterhorn, from where you can also venture into the further slopes of Cervinia.
Bear in mind the cracks around the glacier area pose a serious threat. You shouldn’t attempt to leave marked areas when leaving the small Matterhorn, Rosa Plateau and Trockner Steg without an experienced guide.
From the top station at Schwarzee take the No.51 red piste and drop right after you pass the junction with the black. This difficult open tree section is known by the pros as the Schwarzee trees.
Going out with an experienced guide is about more than your safety. As well as having someone with you who keeps you away from dangerous routes and knows what to do in an emergency, they have in-depth experience with these mountains. They will be able to guide you to some of the best slopes in the resort and help you find magical secret spots. It’s an opportunity to make your off-piste experience ten times better.
Heli-skiing in Zermatt
To really maximise the off-piste potential in Zermatt you’re not going to reach it by lift. Heli-skiing will get you to some of the most untouched snow in the mountains in record time. Soaring between 4000m peaks and getting up close and personal with the Matterhorn makes heli-skiing in Zermatt a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The most popular heli-skiing destination in Zermatt and the highest heli-skiing in Europe is the Monte Rosa. Starting at an altitude of 4,250m, the entire 2,500 vertical meter run is on glaciers. This route will take the whole day and finish in Furi.
Alphubeljoch is another towering destination starting at 4,200m. The open terrain here will give you endless panoramic views as you make your descent. The slightly lower Äschihorn sits at 3,562m but doesn’t offer any fewer thrills. From here you can enjoy a sunny day skiing the south side back to Zermatt or plunge into deep powder on the Hohlichtgletscher and end in Tasch.
Best Ski Guides and Heli-skiing in Zermatt
The two main heliskiing companies in Zermatt are Air Zermatt and Zermatters. Many different tour operators offer to heli-ski but most sub-contract through these two companies.
Air Zermatt has been running the transport and safety of the resort since 1968. They operate heliskiing tours to five different peaks including Unterrothorn, Testa Grigia, Monte Rosa, Alphubeljoch, and Äschihorn.
Zermatters is a specialist outdoor adventure company that prides themselves on always having a local guide on their trips. They offer tours to four different destinations which are Monte Rosa, Äschihorn, Alphubeljoch, and Valpelline. As well as heli-skiing, they offer a variety of lessons, fun activities like paragliding and husky sledding, and ski touring courses.
Another option for your off-piste needs is Summit Ski School. With an extensive knowledge of Zermatt and experience with mountains around the world, you’ll get an exciting and informative experience. They offer private ski guiding, introductions to off-piste, and heli-skiing tours with Air Zermatt.