To the north of Brig extends a magnificent glacier region. Between the Riederhorn (2,230 m/7,317ft) and the Eggishorn (2,937 m/9,636ft), a natural terrace exposed to the sun, from which the land falls steeply away, forms a transition to the Rhône valley. From Brig there are various routes to the Aletsch glacier which offer attractive day or half-day outings, with the help of cableways and lifts.The Great Aletsch glacier is a unique feature of great magnificence - the largest stretch of firn (ice formed from snow ) in the Alps and in Europe (area 170 sq. km/66 sq. mi, length about 25km/16mi). Its catchment area extends from the south side of the Bernese Alps, around the Jungfrau, to the almost level Konkordiaplatz, where the ice is some 800 m/2,625ft deep, and from there southwards to the Aletschwald (nature reserve), one of the highest forests of stone pines in Europe.
Belalp, Blatten, Switzerland
From Brig-Naters there is a good road up the Chelchbach valley to Blatten (1,327 m/4,355ft; pop. 50), a typical little Valais mountain village, from which there is a cableway (length 1,780 m/5,840ft, height difference 766 m/2,513ft, time six minutes) to Belalp (2,080 m/6,824ft). From here a footpath (half-hour) leads to the Belalp Hotel, at the foot of the Sparrhorn and above the western tip of the Aletsch glacier.
This annual festival takes place in late August.
7km/4mi up the Rhône valley from Brig is Mörel (800 m/2,625ft; pop. 600), formerly a post station and now a base for walks and climbs on the Riederalp. There are two cableways, one running up in two stages via Ried (length 3,055 m/10,123ft, height difference 1,155 m/3,790ft, time 25minutes) to the Riederalp, the other to the Greicheralp (length 2,798 m/9,180ft, height difference 1,141 m/3,744ft, time 15minutes) with a continuation to the Moosfluh (length 1,817 m/5,962ft, height difference 451 m/1,480ft, time 12minutes), directly above the Aletsch glacier. From the Riederalp there is a chair-lift (length 1,053 m/3,455ft, height difference 299 m/981ft, time seven minutes) to the Hohfluh, from which there is a splendid walk down to the Riederfurka (2,064 m/6,772ft). A well-constructed road leads from the mountain station of the cableway Rieder-Alp-Moosfluh, along the Bettmerhorn to Lake Märjelen, and offers spectacular views of the Aletsch glacier and the surrounding peaks over 4,000 m/13,000ft.
Riederfurka - Villa Cassel
The Villa Cassel on the Riederfurka was the first office for the protection of nature established by the Schweizer Bund für Naturschutz (Swiss Association for the Protection of Nature: exhibition, Alpine garden).
The real gateway to the Aletsch glacier and the Aletschwald is the Riederalp (1,950 m/6,398ft; pop. 300) which is accessible by three cableways from Mörel. The highest golf course in Switzerland (nine holes) is situated here. Popular attractions include guided glacier walks, excursions over the high mountain path from the mountain station Riederalp/Moosfluh to Lake Märjelen and the weekly cheese show at the Alpine museum. The well-established pistes of the Riederalp are an ideal skiing area in winter with guaranteed snow (ski school offering courses in ski acrobatics). Particular features of interest are the Riederalp chapel (1679) and the nearby Blausee (Blue Lake; 2,204 m/7234ft).
There is a pleasant, almost level, walk to the Bettmeralp (1,950 m/6,398ft; pop. 150). The picturesque little mountain village, around the chapel of Maria zum Schnee (1679), is a popular resort both in summer and in winter, with excellent walking (walking, fishing and tennis weeks; glacier walks; climbing school). From the Rhône valley the Bettmeralp can be reached via Betten (10km/6mi from Brig) on a cableway (length 2,610km/8,563ft, height difference 1,120 m/3,675ft, time 10 minutes).
The Aletsch area can be reached from Fiesch, 18km/11mi east of Brig (1,050 m/3,445ft; pop. 700). Fiesch, which first appears in the records in 1203, has a chapel with an altar of 1704. There is a large health and holiday complex for young people, opened in 1966 (1,050b., SB, gymnasium).
From the Eggishorn (2,916 m/9,600ft) there are panoramic views in the Upper Valais. A cableway (length 4,795 m/15,732ft, height difference 1,807 m/5,929ft, time 13minutes) ascends to the Kühboden and from there to the summit (magnificent view of the Aletsch glacier). Under the north face of the Eggishorn is the Märjelensee (Lake Märjelen; 2,345 m/7,694ft: nature reserve).
Breiten ob Mörel
A new-style holiday resort can be found at Breiten ob Mörel, 8km/5mi up the valley from Brig (900 m/2,953ft; pop. 80). This centrally managed resort on a sunny terrace above the valley of the infant Rhône is the only brine spa in the Alps (water at 33 deg C/91 deg F, with a well-equipped treatment and fitness facility (heated SB, SP) and its own farm (cheese dairy of 1713).