Switzerland

St Bernard's Beginner Snowshoe

24

Beginner's snowshoe experience, completing the famous pilgrimage to St Bernard's Hospice. Along the way, you'll also visit Barryland - home of the grand St Bernard dog and have an opportunity for a Swiss sledge descent!

Highlights in 60 seconds

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and introductions

Your guide collects you at Martigny train station - a direct train ride from Geneva airport - at 4:00 PM.

From here, we do group introductions, and you'll have a chance to settle into the accommodation before dinner.

Accommodation, dinner, breakfast and specialist equipment are included on this trip. Lunches and drinks will need to be purchased.

The accommodation is in mixed rooms with bathrooms and showers, a bar and a restaurant.

We use various places depending on conditions. One place requires a 2km walk from the car park, so pack light (you can leave things in the van).

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Day 2: Snowshoe journey and optional sledge descent

We head out from our base in a mountain valley to a location that's fantastic for gaining snowshoe skills - learning how to move over the snow with ease.

We also complete a small journey into the Swiss wilderness with incredible mountain backdrops.

Most weeks (although it depends on conditions) at the end of the day, there is an optional sledge run for the more adventurous.

Everyone else can warm up with a hot chocolate or hot wine.

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Day 3: St Bernard's Monastery

An early start will see us on the 5km trail to ascend the 450m up to the Grand Saint Bernard Monastery.

Once there, we break for tea and food with the monks.

Afterwards, we make a short journey across the Italian border before returning back to the Hospice for dinner and optional evensong.

Evenings in the Hospice can be quiet or fun, depending on your choices.

Please note this is a high mountain trail, and in poor weather or avalanche conditions, another route may be chosen.

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Day 4: Descent and visiting the dogs

After waking up in the Hospice, we fuel up on breakfast with the monks.

We then descend the route we climbed the previous day to get back to the bus.

On the way down to Martigny, we can visit a Laiterie, or cheese factory, to try some of the local cheeses and make some purchases.

Our final visit is to Barryland to see and, hopefully, pet the dogs.

You are then dropped back at Martigny train station at 3.30 PM. Most people then return to Geneva by train (1h 50m) for an evening flight home.

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What's Included

Included
  • Professional guide.
  • Accommodation.
  • Breakfast and dinner.
  • Specialist equipment (snowshoes, poles, safety equipment).
  • Entry to Barryland.
Not Included
  • International and local flights.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Sledging (20 CHF extra).
  • Lunches.
  • Visa (if applicable).
Have a question?

If you have any questions about this trip or want to speak with an expert, get in touch.

We're ready to help.

Team Images
Team Images
Team Images

Rated 5.0

24 verified reviews

Ben
Ben

(Dec 2023)

Our guide Tom, was knowledgeable, interesting and funny. The trip was just amazing, helped by the fact Tom made everyone feel included and brought the whole team together, regardless of age or ability. Dinner with monks was an experience, the cheese factory was fun, and cuddling the dogs was awsome.

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Cheadle
Cheadle

(Dec 2023)

Tom, Vic and Rich were the perfect hosts as always making everyone feel comfortable and engaged. The snowshoeing was just incredible especially with the perfect snow and conditions that Tom booked for us! Walking across the roof of a chalet was an unexpected but enjoyable treat and the views were spectacular in every direction. If you’re thinking of visiting Switzerland then you really can’t go wrong with these guys!

Helen
Helen

(Dec 2023)

The most fantastic trip! Our guides Tom, Rich and Foxy were brilliant, so knowledgeable and full of fun. I honestly can’t choose one particular highlight although we fitted a lot in- three days of snowshoeing, a Christmas market, the St Bernard hospice, visiting and eating at a laiterie, and of course meeting the wonderful dogs!

Sarah
Sarah

(Mar 2023)

Really enjoyed this trip and even though the time was short, we packed a lot in. Tom was a great host despite feeling a bit under the weather. Accommodation was lovely and staff friendly. Lucky to have good weather throughout. Barryland was amazing. Thank you so much.

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Giulia
Giulia

(Dec 2022)

Absolutely fantastic! Tom is very thorough and patient. We had 2 amazing days with great views and different terrains that allowed us to practice snowshoeing in different situations. Thanks Tom ! We

FAQs

Before you go

This trip is very much aimed at beginner snowshoers for their first experience of walking in the snow. You'll need to be fit enough to walk in the mountains for up to 5 hours per day. If you have always wanted to visit the mountains in winter but don't want to ski, this is an ideal trip for you.

Please see inclusions and exclusions section above.

Documents: - Passport - Boarding pass for flights - Money (CHF) - Credit/Debit Card Sleeping: - Sleeping bag liner (you can buy these from your host for 25 CHF). They are required in all Swiss budget accommodations. - Ear plugs Footwear: - Trekking boots: 4-season waterproof, warm, lightweight - Lightweight shoe's for the evening (or you can borrow hut slippers) Clothing: Please make sure that you have non-cotton clothing for trekking. - Pair of synthetic under-top and bottom (long johns or similar) - Comfortable shirt for the evening - Hiking socks - Spare underwear - Fleece - Light down or Primaloft jacket - Waterproof jacket and trousers - Hiking trousers - Comfortable trousers for the evening - Sun hat, warm hat and waterproof gloves - Buff or scarf Other: - Day bag: 35 - 45 litres - all your kit should fit into this bag - Travel towel - Dry bag or liner - Water bottle: At least 2L - Sun protection: Sunglasses, sun cream and sun hat - Personal medication - Toiletries - Electronics - headtorch, travel adapter, phone and charger Specialist equipment is included in the price of the trip (snowshoes, poles etc.)

Not at all. You can get to us by train from Europe and Britain. Search for trains to Geneva. Here is a nice explanation. The train to Milan actually stops at Martigny too. There is also the Swiss Snow train from London. Just be careful if you have to connect in Paris, it's two different stations, leave an hour +. Alternatively, you can drive if you are in a group or are local. There is plenty of parking.

It varies. On ideal days it is cold and sunny, but this is a mountain pass, and we can have any of the four seasons. So come prepared. If there are snow storms, we will need to adapt the itinerary.

Yes. We always recommend getting travel insurance well before your trip departure date. Given the location, even if you sprain an ankle, you will need a helicopter pick-up. Without insurance, this will be pricey. Also, if you need to cancel last minute, you may be able to claim on insurance for the cost of the trip. Your travel insurance needs to include search and rescue, with hiking up to 3000m. We are sorry that we are unable to recommend insurance providers. Check the normal price comparison websites but be sure to select winter sports cover.

Swiss Francs, CHF, available at cash points. You certainly need cash at the Hospice, but other places generally take bank cards.

On your trip

We stay in a large shared room. There are showers. It is heated and comfortable with a restaurant and bar on site. Wifi and 4G are available.

Yes there is, depending on availability. - Double Room Suplement 50chf per trip. - Single Room Supplement 100chf per trip. When you book the trip your dorm room is guaranteed. If there is availability we can upgrade you to a single/ double / twin room. Let us know what you need after you have booked. Availability is seldom a problem. You will pay locally for any upgrade.

Sledging is an optional extra, although it also depends on the conditions of the slope. It costs 20 CHF and is a real thrill. We get the chairlift up and then head down at speed. If that's not your thing, there is a bar/cafe to wait in while others take the plunge. It takes about an hour up and down. If you choose to sledge, you are responsible for your own safety.

You will get to meet the dogs at Barryland. It is up to you how close you get to them. What is allowed depends on the current health recommendations. All in all, they are gentle giants and as soft as teddy bears.

Our normal group size for this trip is 7-12 people. You'll make friends with like-minded people.

Start: You'll meet your guide at Martigny Train station, at around 4:00 PM on day 1 of your itinerary. It's easily accessible from Zurich Airport (3 hours)/ Geneva airport with regular direct trains (1h 40 direct, 2h 10mins with a change). End: Your guide will drop you back off at the train station on the final day of your itinerary. We aim for 4.30 PM at the latest. Leave plenty of time to return for your flight or continue your experience with a day in Montreux or Geneva. If you choose to fly home that evening, we recommend a flight after 8:30 PM.

The food is wholesome and of good quality. You will be served three-course dinners and buffet breakfasts. You will not go hungry. Vegetarian, vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free diets can be catered for with sufficient notice. For other diet requests or allergies, please be sure to let us know.

You hike from 1800m to 2500m. Altitude sickness is not normally an issue at this height.

It is traditional in mountain regions to tip the guide. It is appreciated and reflects how hard they work to make your trip a success. A suitable amount is 20-50 CHF per person. You can also review and name-check those guides who have given you a particularly good experience.

You can leave anything you don't want during the days in the accommodation. Some of the accommodations we need to hike to are 2 km away. On those occasions, you can leave what you don't need in the bus.

Very easy, with trains two or three times an hour. Swiss trains are known for being efficient, and this train ride offers some beautiful views along the way. We pick you up at the train station. The train journey that most of our guests take, Geneva - Martigny, is part of the magic of this trip. You can use the website sbb.ch to plan your trip.

While we do everything we can to match this advertised itinerary, but your safety is our number one concern. We can always get out and about and go snowshoeing. But we may not be able to go to the Hospice as it can be a potentially dangerous route in poor weather or avalanche conditions. In such a situation, your guide will choose another suitable and safe route.

Because the routes are chosen to make the most of the conditions it is impossible to give exact mileages. A typical trip though would be: Day 1: 0kms - this is a meet, greet and learn about equipment evening. Day 2: 8km 421m up and down. Then optional sledging. Day 3: 7 kms 600m up and 100m down. Day 4: 5kms 500m down.

Other FAQs

The Grand Saint Bernard is a very special place. There may be an opportunity to attend a Latin Mass, Evensong or space for reflection. Effort and the location certainly give you something to reflect on. However, this is totally optional. You can just relax and drink tea, wine or read a book if you prefer!

Due to the distances and ascents covered on this trip, it is geared towards adults. Therefore the minimum age for this trip is 18 years. However, teens between 16-18 years are welcome to attend in the company of a responsible adult. Please also be aware that accommodation is in mixed dormitories. Should you wish for someone younger to join the trip, please get in touch. We deal with these requests on a case-by-case basis.

You'll be in the Swiss mountains, so there are endless opportunities! You can visit Geneva, Montreux or Lausanne. If you want to ski or do more snowshoeing, this would be a perfect opportunity. There are also some of the world's best train trips starting near here. Your host can advise. Your host will also happily extend your trip with ski instruction or further snowshoeing trips if you would like a longer trip. Ask them for details and prices. If you are on a pre-Christmas trip, we highly recommend the Montreux Christmas Market. The market is for young and old alike, full of Christmas buzz. Another option is to take a train to the summit of the Roche de Naye. Or, for the more adventurous, take a train, bus and cable car to walk between two summits on the Glacier 3000 Peak Walk. If you want to stay to go skiing or snowboarding, we can put you in touch with our friends at various ski schools.

Watch this video of ski Sunday visiting the GSB. That said, hopefully, we will have better weather for our ascent.

We live and work in the environment and care deeply about it. This provider is in the process of joining the 1% for the Planet scheme and volunteers regularly in mountain clean-up operations. You are likely to hear about this during your trip. If you travel your entire journey by train or offset your carbon, your host will reward you with merchandise. Be sure to mention it to them.

Your head guides are Louise and Tom

All trips on Skyhook are run by small, hand-picked local guiding companies. For this trip your guides run AlpsAdventures, based in Collombey Muraz.

By booking through Skyhook you'll be joining a small-group trip. This can make it nice and sociable (you'll be added to a group chat after booking), and guarantees great value for money!

Louise
Tom