Zinal offers something for paragliding pilots of all abilities, whether it be a gentle extended top to bottom flight or an epic cross country, paragliding here is spectacular. The cable car in the village takes you up 800m in under 10 minutes directly to take-off. This, combined with the reliable alpine weather and a sheltered valley, makes Zinal the perfect location for a spectacular, hassle-free paragliding holiday.
The main summer take-off site (pictured on the right, in August) is at 2440m and only a 100m downhill walk from the top of the cable car and the restaurant. It is a large, relatively flat area with plenty of room for 15-20 gliders to be laid out, with a steep but landable grassy slope out front; top landings are straight forward on the gently sloping ski pistes behind the take-off.
For low airtime pilots, this is the perfect place to gain alpine paragliding experience. No waiting around for a lift back up the mountain if you fail to stay in that thermal - just get the next cable car back up to take off. It runs at least every hour, allowing enough time to get up the mountain, set up, take off, fly down and pack up in time for the next one. No need for a retrieve driver or a 4x4. It is quite possible to complete 8 twenty-minute top to bottom flights in one day.
There is a large, easy landing field at the bottom of the cable car. (See photo on the right.) It is 50m x 150m, reasonably flat and is orientated up and down the valley, making it ideal for the gentle valley winds that blow each day. There is also a second, very large, landing field (at least 10 football pitches in size) just up the valley, in case it does get very windy.
For novice XC pilots, there is a fairly straight forward out and return flight down the opposite west facing side of the valley. The surrounding mountains, on both sides of the valley are 3000m high. For experts, being able to climb out over the 4000m peaks at the top of the valley means that the cross country potential is huge.
A weeks pass for the cable car costs just £30 in the summer.
The flying weather is very reliable here, even by alpine standards. The whole valley is protected from the meteo wind by the surrounding 3000m and 4000m peaks, so flying is possible even when the meteo wind is quite strong. Valley winds blow up the valley each day, but are usually gentle and if anything make landings easier. Zinal is not affected by the very strong alpine valley winds that blow up some larger valleys. During the August 2006 PWC at Fiesch (50km away) when conditions were not flyable, pilots were able to enjoy a good days paragliding in Zinal.
The winter weather is as predictable as during the summer. Zinal hosts the famous Mauler Cup touch and go competition every January which is testimony to the reliability of the winter flying. Parapente Mag's write ups of this event in 2005 and 2006 were entitled 'Zinal est Magique!' and 'Incroyable Zinal!' respectively. In 2007 it was again a huge success with 80 pilots taking part. There is also a Swiss pilot who lives here throughout the winter months, providing tandem flights. Ski take offs are normally necessary in winter. Picture right shows a paraglider in front of the Zinal Rothorn (4221m). The picture bottom left shows a distant glider with the Matterhorn (Cervin) (4478) to the right and the Obergabelhorn (4062m) to the left. Bottom right shows the Weisshorn (4506), fourth highest mountain in Switzerland.
For reservations text Jule on 00447515898232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Aiglon Alpine: High Mountain Adventure,
Zinal Switzerland: Skiing