Martin Donat

Stoneman Glaciaria – In the realm of glaciers in Switzerland

Martin Donat | lifeCYCLE magazine

Stoneman Glaciaria – In the realm of glaciers in Switzerland

Mountain Biking Collection by Martin Donat

Covering 127 kilometres (79 miles) and 4,700 metres (15,420 feet) of altitude difference, the Stoneman Glaciaria takes you into the breathtaking world of alpine glaciers in the Swiss canton of Valais. You follow great trails through the unique and unforgettable high mountain landscape, which is both beautiful but endangered. This Collection takes you up close to the magnificent mountains, making you appreciate the importance of nature even more. You can already do your part to protect them at the start of your adventure – the Stoneman Glaciaria is accessible by public transport from many regions so it’s a perfect weekend trip.

The focal point of this mountain bike adventure is, without doubt, the massive Aletsch Glacier, after which the ‘Glaciaria’ Stoneman is named. Standing atop the Moosfluh summit, you gaze upon endless ice masses below which are deeply impressive and humbling, give you an unforgettable impression to take home with you.

But that's not all, of course. You’ll work up a sweat on gruelling climbs to make your brakes burn on miles of downhill runs. Along the route, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views as well as the cosy atmosphere of an idyllic mountain village where you’ll find shops and refreshments.

The Stoneman Glaciaria is the perfect mix of challenging bike action and rugged mountain scenery. With enough planning and safety precautions, you can embark on this adventure with a basic fitness level.

The Stoneman is neither an event nor a race, but it is still a challenge. There are various stamping points, mostly at beautiful locations, to motivate you to keep going and push further. It is entirely up to you how big the challenge is. You can, of course, also ride the Tour without a stamp card or only complete sections of the route. Hardened bikers can complete the route in one day – but that’s tough. Completing the route in two days is also possible if you are quite sporty. With three days, you can really relax, which is why I’ve divided the route into three stages for this Collection.

To make it as easy as possible to plan your overnight stays, I have planned the stages so that they always start and end in the town of Fiesch. Of course, you can also find accommodation as you go and tackle the whole thing in bikepacking mode, but that requires more planning. You will also have to transport your luggage yourself or arrange for luggage transport. The three Tours in this Collection work best over a long weekend: If you arrive by noon on Friday, you can easily manage stage 1 in a full day of biking on Saturday, while stage 3 is a relaxed day on Sunday morning, so you can start your journey home without any stress.

And how can you take on this adventure without a car? It’s very simple. The entire Aletsch Arena is accessible by public transport, which includes not only the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn, but also the mountain railways that take you up into the partly car-free mountain villages. The Aletsch Arena itself can be reached quickly and easily from Germany via Basel, Bern and Brig. If you don't want to take your bike with you on the train, you can rent high-quality MTBs in bike shops when you arrive. Many hosts are also well prepared for bikers – there are even 20 Stoneman-Logis partners along the route who will take particularly good care of you.

You can find more information about the Stoneman Tour and accommodation here: stoneman-glaciara.com. There you can also book your starter package with lots of information and your personal stamp card.

I wish you lots of fun in the wonderful realm of glaciers!

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Difficult
    05:02
    23.2 mi
    4.6 mph
    5,075 ft
    5,075 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    With a strategically favorable starting point, you can safely drive the Stoneman Glaciaria in several stages without having to change your accommodation. Fiesch is ideally suited for this and so - if you want to drive the Stoneman in three days - stage 1 almost automatically arises: You start in Fiesch and that's exactly where you arrive again. With a length of 37.5 kilometers, this stage can easily be accomplished in half a day. My tip: Do not start until the afternoon, then you can enjoy the magnificent evening light at the top with a fantastic view of the glacier.The tour starts with a long climb up to the Fiescheralp. It really has it all and requires perseverance. If you see the tour as an alpine warm-up and want to take it easy, you can skip this ascent and take the mountain railway instead. Don't worry, this is not cheating: tomorrow the same ascent is on the program again, so that you can honestly earn it for the Stoneman classification.It doesn't take long from Fiescheralp to the first highlight: the Tälligrattunnel is really adventurous. It leads straight through the mountain and it is a bit oppressive when you imagine that 300 meters of rock is loosely above you. At the end of the tunnel you are in another world. Here you first roll past the cozy Gletscherstube, then past the Märjalensee. There is a Stoneman stamping point on its bank: Don't forget to stamp!You pedal past the lake, shortly afterwards there's something to be amazed about again. From the small rock trail you have an absolutely magnificent view of the Fiescher glacier. Wow! Find a nice boulder to sit down and let this look sink in on you. It's just beautiful here, even if the thought of these huge ice masses getting smaller and smaller is really sad.Now follows a demanding trail descent, on which you can really let it rip. If you are unsure, it is better to drive slowly and dismount before you fall. That wouldn't be a good idea up here. Sometimes it is steep and downhill in tight switchbacks. There is no shame in pushing here. In addition, you can then enjoy the view much better in peace.You finally come back to Fiescher Alp via an easy farm road. You already know the descent into the valley from the ascent - this time it's just much faster. If the wide path is too boring for you, there are also some very crisp trails that lead down to Fiesch - just plan a little more time for this, because these are not designated bike routes, so you have to descend here and there, to carry your bike over a pasture gate or to push a short steep section.

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    Difficult
    08:08
    44.8 mi
    5.5 mph
    8,025 ft
    11,800 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    After the rather relaxed first stage, stage 2 is a real chunk waiting for you. The 72 kilometers distance may not be as impressive as the number of meters in altitude: around 3,600 of them are waiting for you today! No wonder, because with the trip up the Moosfluh and above all with the Breithorn you have made two really official climbs.You can make the tour much easier if you take the mountain railway from Fiesch up to the Fiescher Alp in the morning. Then there are still 2,450 vertical meters - as this tour describes it. But please don't cheat: In one of the two stages (1 or 2), the long ascent to the Alm is part of the process if you want to earn the Stoneman laurels. Once at the top, one way or another it's a little more relaxed. And you can - if the weather cooperates - look forward to the first highlight of the day: From the Moosfluh you have a magnificent view of the Aletsch Glacier. Usually. When I was up here I didn't see anything because it was so foggy. I guess I was really unlucky ...But I was able to enjoy the following descent even more. It's really tough and constantly alternates between challenging trails, high-speed passages and loose traverses, where one side goes steeply downhill. Variety is provided and there is a real mountain bike feeling. A little driving technique here and there really doesn't hurt, because otherwise it could be quite exhausting. If in between you have the feeling that your arms are falling off, you better stop for a moment and take a look at the map: There is always the possibility to use alternative paths and roads that are much easier to drive.Once at the bottom you can fill up your supplies in Mörel. I would highly recommend this to you, because apart from a small supermarket in Grengiols (with clear opening times) you can actually no longer get past any food options in Binn. I missed that in Mörel and had to suffer a lot for it.The rise that follows demands real stamina. 14 bends and a consistently steep, old military road are not without. The path is passable, but really sweaty. Shortly after the start of the ascent, there is a drinking water point waiting for you that you should definitely use, especially when the sun is shining.Once at the top, you did it! Get your Stoneman stamp quickly and then find a nice spot for a break. A snack and this view - every single turn of the crank was worth it! And it can be even better: The very relaxed descent down to the Binntal is the icing on the cake. Technically it is absolutely undemanding, but after such an ascent, that's exactly right: nobody needs a grueling downhill here. On the wide gravel road, you can just let the bike run and enjoy the great mountain landscape, which is totally different here than on the other side of the mountain.In Binn is stamped again. Then you could use one of the refreshment stops in the idyllic mountain village before you make your way back to the Rhone Valley. If you want to go back to Fiesch, you can follow this route and take the breathtaking suspension bridge in Goms with you. If you have enough, which I can understand well, you can alternatively roll down the street to Ernen and take a shortcut from there to Fiesch.

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  • Difficult
    03:35
    23.8 mi
    6.7 mph
    3,350 ft
    3,350 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Stage 3 of this Stoneman adventure is rather relaxed again. It is ideal, for example, as a short morning round on the day of departure. The start and finish are again in Fiesch, so you don't have to change hotels and you can start your journey home directly from here.Today's tour takes you mainly through the beautiful Rhone Valley, or along the Rottens, as the Rhone in Upper Valais is also called. Accordingly, the topography for today is rather moderate - ideal for enjoying the wonderful landscape and beautiful mountains again. Today, the Rhone is mostly your loyal companion and invites you to take a short break on its banks.The turning point of the tour is in Reckingen, where there is also a stamping point for the Stoneman tour. So to collect all the stamps, you have to hold out this far. If you have run out of strength in between or you find that your time is running out, there is a practical option here: With the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn you can comfortably return to Fiesch. Incidentally, on this tour you will come back to places where the train stops. So your plan B is always there!From Reckingen you continue to the pretty town of Gluringen and from there parallel to the main road to Niederwald. Here the route makes a bend in the direction of Bellwald - from now on you will collect most of the vertical meters of the day. Bellwald is again a real highlight. Not only because the beautiful town center is ideal for a last break and because there is another stamp here. Bellwald has a small bike park and if you haven't had enough, you can simply add a few more runs here: the mountain railway takes you from the center of the village in a relaxed manner up to the start of the two bike park runs.But even without a bike park, some beautiful passages await you after Bellwald. Over flowing trails with the best views, you come slowly but safely back into the valley and back to the starting point of the tour, to Fiesch. If your time in Valais has already come to an end, you can start your journey home relaxed by train from here. And if you - which is of course much better - stay here for a while, there are still many beautiful trails by mountain bike, but also some real classic passports for racing bikes waiting to be ridden by you.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    91.8 mi
  • Duration
    16:45 h
  • Elevation
    16,425 ft

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Martin Donat

Stoneman Glaciaria – In the realm of glaciers in Switzerland