The alarm clock rings relentlessly at 4 AM… It’s dark in the room, I can’t even see my own hands and the first thought that comes through my mind is “why… oh, God, why… I must have gone completely insane that I wake up so freaking early…”.
I drag myself out of bed, leaving the white eiderdown, the kind you can see only in mountain cottages. It definitely add the climate to the room. I open the balcony window wide and the fresh, but not cold, air hits me in the face. In the distance I can see the dark outlines of mountain peaks, still bathed in moonlight. I will be there soon and only because of them I decided to get up on this ungodly hour. I want to reach their feet before the dawn and start the day surrounded by pure, untouched, mountain nature.
It’s because of such experiences, landscapes, silence and crystal-clear air people come to Crans-Montana in southern Switzerland – the Alpine land of four-thousanders and glaciers.
The Alpine land of four-thousanders
The Romans call this whole region Vallis Poenina – The Valley of the Upper Rhône. In the Middle Ages, ca. year 1150 there were only few houses on the slopes of Mont de Lens and in year 1300 a branch of Benedictine order of Granges was founded here. Despite the fact that it was their home for few hundred years, at the beginning of year 2011 they decided to leave this area, because there were not enough of them to carry on with their mission.
Crans-Montana, where I am now, is also known as Crans-sur-Sierre (from Sierre plateau), which is in Sierre District, canton of Valais. This small, alpine town is situated 1500 meters above the sea level and is inhabited only by around 6 000 citizens. That’s why it’s so charming. On one hand you’ve got piece, quiet and nature just out there, you only have to get out and grasp it tightly, on the other hand there are lots of beautiful boutique hotels, very good restaurants and artistic entertainment. This is an ideal place that combines active rest and luxury.
I came here however to experience firsthand the hiking on local tracks and to understand, why Swiss nature attracts so many people from all over the globe, leaving no one indifferent.
I have to say this – Crans-Montana is situated in an extraordinary place, the Western Alps, on a plateau over the Rhône valley, surrounded by four four-thousanders: Matterhorn, Weisshorn, Dent Blanche and Mont Blanc. That’s why it’s often called “the land of the four-thousanders”.
In the winter it becomes a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts but in the summer it’s visited by enthusiasts of mountain hiking. And I am one of them.
I don’t even want to lose any second in this beautiful place, so on 4:30 AM I am already sitting in the car, heading for the absolute darkness, towards the Lac de Tseuzier lake, which is my starting point for the first hiking in this area.
From dawn till dusk
When we reach our destination, it’s still dark out there. We grab our gear and circle the lake, walking a narrow path, to reach its opposite edge – where we could admire the sunrise.
Were you ever in the mountains at sunrise?
It’s an experience that cannot be compared to any other. The sun reflecting in the ocean is spectacular but the sunbeams slowly emerging from behind the mountain peaks engender different feelings. On one hand you feel the power and the monumentality, on the other hand the sight of the mountain peaks and their slow reappearing in all their glory brings some kind of tension and thrill deep inside you. Realizing how small and fragile we are compared to them, how unimportant, always gives me shivers.
We are doubly fortunate, because in the moment we enter a small bridge suspended over a waterfall, the sun begins to light up the area with orange and violet, which reflect on the surface of the lake.
It was worth to get up so early in the night to greet the day in such place.
We voraciously look at the landscape, waiting for the sunlight change the dark lake into emerald depths.
Then we head back to Crans-Montana town. It shall take 2 or 3 hours but somehow we sidetrack from yellow track to the red one and a really long way leads on ledges… without any railing! It’s sure now – I’m not sleepy anymore!
The sights, just like Swiss views should, knock me off my feet – the snowcapped peaks, rich green, here and there a cow bell rings, instantly making me think about Milka chocolate advertisements.
We reach the town after 4.5 hours (pinning the blame on the fact that we’ve taken millions of pictures on the road). So I’ve officially passed my first Swiss track!
Crans-Montana stands also for wine – a lot, really lots of wine
Switzerland is not only about watches, chocolate and banks. Valais canton is particularly proud of its wines, which win many prizes in international competitions. You can, of course, try them in restaurants and buy them in wine stores but I think that they taste better in a vineyard with the view on Swiss Alps. So, if you agree with me, you already understand why I have chosen this place.
In the early afternoon we go for an aperitif to one of the most beautifully situated vineyards I had a chance to see – Le Tambourin in the Val d’Anniviers valley, surrounded by rugged mountain peaks.
We raise a toast with the pride of the region – excellent Pinot Noir and tasting local Swiss cheeses, having such a view that once again I catch myself thinking that the Swiss are really lucky and I am not surprised that they feel best at home.
Room with the view on Alps – the most beautiful place to sleep
If you are looking for an original accommodation and a place to eat supper with magnificent view, you will surely appreciate, like me, the Chetzeron – a boutique hotel, created in the former cableway station, situated above the ski resort of Crans-Montana.
Getting there is a challenge on its own, because you need a 4×4 car. The hotel has its own cross-country cars and brings the guests from lower terrains by car but you have to prepare that it will be bumpy, narrow and the sights on the road will only be a preview for what is waiting on you on the top.
Chetzeron is located 2112 meters above the sea level and its surrounded by the view on the Rhône valley and Alpine peaks, from Matterhorn to Mont-Blanc. It’s the only hotel in its league and there is no other infrastructure in the area, so this is indeed a unique place, protected from every side with boundless mountains. Sleeping here is a dream come true for anyone who loves mountains and quintessence of Swiss luxury and love of the nature.
The day ends with the sun setting behind the Alps and view on the small towns, glittering and sparkling in the distance.
Tomorrow, first thing in the morning, we’re going to Plaine Morte glacier. But this is another story you will read here on the blog.
XOXO, my dear travelers!