Chalet Croix Blanche is part of the Thyon-Printze region of the Four Valleys ski area, which is the largest connected ski area in Switzerland. The closest ski lift (Les Masses) is a short walk from the chalet which takes skiers up to the main ski lifts in the Thyon area at Les Collons (Trebanta and Etherolla). For those who do not wish to carry their skis back to the chalet, there are lockers available for rent that are next to the Les Masses ski lift.
There are several different types of ski passes in the region:
Thyon-Printze in Switzerland is a large ski area with 48 lifts that offers skiers an incredible 1777 metres (5829 feet) of vertical descent. Thyon-Printze has 220 km of pistes and 15 km of cross country ski trails. For snowboarders, there is a terrain park. Heli-skiing is also very popular. The combined area lift system can carry over 72,500 persons per hour, and has 5 cable cars, 14 gondolas, 33 chair lifts and 49 drag lifts.
Swiss ski school takes kids from 3.5 years with Kids Village, group and individual lessons available. The wide open sunny slopes above Les Collons are ideal for beginners and lapsed experienced skiers that want an easy reintroduction to skiing. There are also plenty of ski shacks to provide food or a glass of Vin Chaud.
For the expert skier, there are many challenging runs - both on piste and off piste down from Mont Rouge and Grepon Blanc. The infamous Tortin run which is on the main route back from Verbier, has been labelled as one of “the world’s scariest ski runs” by The Telegraph. For the less adventurous, the gondola provides an easier route back... Verbier and back is a full day event, but it is worth the effort. The world class Piste d L’Ours is part of the World Cup circuit.
Theytaz sports based in Les Collons offers a full rental service (www.theytazsports.ch)
Ski School and Private Lessons are available at Thyon and Les Collons (www.ess-thyon.ch). Ski guides and more information can be found at www.thyon.ch/?lang=en In addition, there are physiotherapists and masseurs available throughout the winter season at Thyon.
Unlike many other ski resorts, the Four Valleys are beautiful in summer. The mountain air is as fresh as it gets and the natural scenery and long hours of sunshine tempered by a warm climate provide for an outstanding summer get away destination for people to chill out and revitalise. Walking, trekking and hiking are popular and, for the fitness fanatic, mountain biking. There are a number of children’s playgrounds that are accessible in the Thyon region, including one at the small restaurant in Les Masses. The strange rock formations of the Pyramides d’Euseigne are a sight to behold and the trip to the highest dam in Europe, the Grande Dixence, is well worth the trip. The scale of the dam is hard to believe. If the lure of the mountain isn’t enough, there is plenty of opportunity to take in the delights of the Canton of Valais and plenty of information is provided on the official tourism web site www.valais.ch/en/index.cfm. Access to Valais is via the historic town of Sion, Switzerland’s oldest town which is a short 17 km (20 min) drive down the mountain from the chalet.
Sporting activities can be access both up the mountain and down in the valley. Tennis courts at Les Masses are literally across the road and are owned by the commune and can be booked. The public indoor swimming pool at Thyon is open from Sunday through Friday from 13:00 to 19:00. The Wellness Centre at Veysonnaz provides a Spa which features a Jacuzzi, Hammam, Sauna, Caldelarium and Cold Water Baths as well as Massage and Relaxation rooms. More information can be found at www.thyon.ch/?lang=en. The Tour du Mont-Fort (www.tdmf.ch/en/main/index.php) is a bike route that offers the opportunity to visit the ski areas of Nendaz, Verbier and La Tzoumaz and has two levels of difficulty: moderate and advanced. Mountain bikes can be hired at Les Collons. Horse riding is available at a ranch in Thyon and there are stables at Vex. You can also witness cow processions and cow fighting which is a traditional local spectacle where the combative Eringer (Hérens) cows of the Valais fight for the title of "Queen" which takes place from the end of June to the beginning of July.
Down the mountain, in Valais there is plenty to do and many of these activities will provide an experience that will live long in people’s memory. Amongst the more spectacular is the boat trip on the underground lake of St Leonard, which lies between Sion and Sierre. The water grotto is Europe’s largest subterranean lake that can be sailed upon and is easily accessible. The guides on the boat tour tell visitors about the history of the cave and its geology. Leisure activities include Golf at several nearby courses at Crans Montana (www.golfcrans.ch), Sion (www.golfclubsion.ch), Villars, Loeche and Verbier; Thermal Springs at Saillon-les-Bains, a Children’s adventure park at Happyland in Granges (www.happyland.ch/); Fishing and river rafting on the Rhone; Paragliding in the Evolene region (www.evolene-region.ch/tourism/paragliding-250.html). The vineyards around Sion are quite spectacular as they are sited on steep slopes around Sion. This makes the grapes very difficult to harvest and hence the local wines tend to be relatively expensive. However, the favourable sunny, dry climate and the variation of soils from one vineyard to another mean that there is a wide variety of wines on offer in both red and white. The Wine Tasting Festival at Sierre in September is an excellent way to sample the wines
The My Switzerland website (www.myswitzerland.com/en/home.html) provides an excellent resource for the activities and excursions that are available in Valais and beyond.