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THE JOURNEY BEGINS - James Cove, Zinal, Switzerland
Tuesday January 10, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

PlanetSKI is currently on a week-long train tour of a few Swiss resorts. We will be in Zermatt and Crans-Montana but we start in Zinal and Grimentz. Where?

Meet Nick Parks.

He is a 56-year old British mountain guide who has made the resort in the Val d'Anniviers his home and the base for his company, Backcountryadventures.

He has been here for 5 winter seasons and now lives in the village year-round.

He is  5'3" with a smile (and skis) of disproportionate dimensions.

Val d'Annivieres, SwitzerlandNick Parks, Zinal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nick has been a friend for many years and was taking time out from his busy schedule to show me around.

It is these sort of people I like bumping into on my random road and rail trips round the mountains.

"Zinal is unique and for me is what a mountain village should be. Genuine, authentic and full of people who live for their skiing and the mountains. The off piste and backcountry skiing here is awesone and so much is accessible with a short walk or a few traverses,"' said Nick.

"And if you want to do something a bit more challenging, well that is here too," he added.

I could see what he meant.

Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you may have heard that the snow cover is pretty thin in this part of the Alps at the moment - true and false.

There is some good covering on the marked runs in Zinal.

Val d'Annivieres, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But off piste looks sketchy and rocky to say the least.

Unless you are with a mountain guide.

Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We asked Nick to describe the current off-piste conditions to us, and this is what he told us in the video below.

There are many ski areas that claim to be undiscovered off piste paradises - for many it is a marketing slogan and a myth. 

But this is the real deal.

As you may have read earlier on PlanetSKI I am doing a whistle stop tour of a few resorts - tomorrow I'm heading to Zermatt.

My favourite resort in the mountains and to say I'm looking forward to it would be an understatement.

Then it is to Crans-Montana and Aletsch - see here for a preview piece as I describe my love of spontaneous travels round the mountains.

As I arrived, there was a very welcome sight in this part of the Alps.

Snow.

Zinal, SwitzerlandZinal, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zinal, SwitzerlandZinal, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zinal was linked to the nearby resort of Grimentz a few years ago and on paper, or even wooden piste map sign, it doesn't look much.

Val d'Annivieres, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But looks can be deceptive.

Val d'Annivieres, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"We came here a few years ago, fell in love with the place and now run a small chalet business where we pass on our love of Val d'Anniviers and Zinal to our guests," said Eric.

He co-runs the company, SkiZinal with his wife Penny.

Eric and Penny KendallEric and Penny Kendall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She is also a professional photographer and took the images below as we discovered some of the off piste with Nick.

Check out the Ski Zinal web site for further details of the company and more of Penny's great photographs.

Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val d'Anniviers, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the powder of Zinal it was time to head round to the newly-linked resort of Grimentz.

It was shrowded in thick cloud in the old village but it didn't hide the beauty of this ancient alpine community.

Val d'Annivieres, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val d'Annivieres, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And above the clouds in Grimentz?

More fresh tracks.

Val d'Annivieres, SwitzerlandVal d'Anniviers, Switzerland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Tomorrow we are going to be heading over to St Luc-Chandolin slightly lower down the valley to do a full day off piste with some skinning and off piste adventures. If you think this has been a good day then just wait till tomorrow," said Nick to me as our day ended.

The only problem was I was due to be heading round to Zermatt the following afternoon and could not do both.

I had a dilemma - head to my favourite resort in the mountains or stay in what was rapildy becoming one of my favourite undiscovered ski areas.

Was it to be Zinal or Zermatt?

I think I'll sleep on it.

For more information about Ski Zinal then check out its web site.

Nick also offers personalised guiding for clients - see here for further details.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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