This walk follows the most impressive two-week section of a classic alpine walk, which embraces much of the best mountain scenery Switzerland has to offer. It is a route which takes us over many alpine passes, some a leisurely stroll, others a tougher proposition, but all offering their own spectacular visual rewards. A marvellous complement to the high land of peaks and passes are the park-like valleys with their thickly wooded hillsides the unspoilt farming villages, deep-blue lakes and picturesque flower-decked chalets. As well as crossing the Grosse Scheidegg and the Hohturli Passes, there is also the incomparable Bernese Oberland region with its impressive peaks, the Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger. There are some long days but lifts and cablecars can be used to shorten some of the walks and overnight locations can all be reached by public transport in case of bad weather. On three separate occasions, you have ‘free’ days where you can pursue optional walks, or take in other attractions such as the Jungfraujoch. This is a mountain journey full of attractions and easily ranks in quality with the Tour de Mont Blanc!
Challenging. This is a trek, which involves much daily uphill and downhill walking. It is only suitable for fit walkers who can readily manage days with more than 1000m ascent and descent. Those in good physical condition who take regular exercise and who have recent hill-walking experience, will find this a trip whose exciting challenges are equally matched by its rewards. The longest day (Lauterbrunnen to Griesalp) can be shortened by using a cable car and mountain railway for the first part of the route. The highest point on the Alpine Pass Route is 2778m (Hohturli on Day 9 of this tour); but many walkers also visit the Blumlisalp Hut, which lies a little way above the Hohturli at 2837m.
Engelberg (1002m) is a beautifully situated mountain resort with a 12th century Benedictine monastery, which has the largest organ in Switzerland. If you arrive early in the day there are possible walks using lifts to Brunni or Furenalp. This evening you will meet your guide for a trip briefing.
Accommodation: Hotel Banklialp - a comfortable 3 star hotel close to this Alpine village and right at the start of our walk.
Our route starts steeply from the hotel climbing up past the Trubsee (1764m). From the lake, we climb on to the Jochpass (2207m), perhaps with views of the Titlus peak before descending past the Engstelsee lake to overnight in Engstlenalp (1834m).
Accommodation: Hotel Engstlenalp - Mountain Inn. Basic accommodation in twin-bedded rooms. No baggage transfer to or from Engstlenalp.
We follow a little-used path, descending through flower bejewelled pastures and forest, along the enchanting Gental Valley to Reuti before a final steep descent through beech forest to Meiringen (595m). Near Meiringen are the Reichenbach Falls, scene of Sherlock Holmes' final struggle with Moriarty, and the Aareschlucht gorge. Time allowing, you may wish to visit the falls this afternoon.
Accommodation: Hotel Baer in Meiringen - Our hotel is centrally located near shops and the station and has modern facilities.
A long hard ascent which can be eased by taking the bus for part of the way up to Schwarzwaldalp (1454m). Towering above on our left is the massive peak of the Wetterhorn (3704m). We descend to Grindelwald (1034m), the “village of Glaciers” nestling below an amphitheatre of peaks, the Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn, Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.
Accommodation: Hotel Lauberhorn - Stay two nights at a cosy 2 star chalet-hotel with a spectacular view of the Eiger and the surrounding peaks. All rooms facing south have balcony, shower and WC. The hotel is a short walk from train stations and the Firstbahn gondola station.
A resort town overlooked by the towering Eigerwand (North Face of the Eiger), scene of many dramatic climbing exploits. A trip on the Jungfrau railway (highest in Europe and 3rd highest in the world) is well worthwhile even though expensive (approx. 184 CHF 2nd Class). A magnificent view from the Jungfraujoch station (3454m) if it is clear - so check the weather forecast. A gondola (mini-cable car) (approx. 30 CHF) trip up to First gives access to a delightful walk to the Faulhorn Peak (2681m), a tremendous viewpoint in clear weather. There are numerous other fine day walks at all altitudes around Grindelwald.
A short descent to Grund (943m) and then a steady ascent along a steep forest track to the day's high point at the famous pass of Kleine Scheidegg (2061m), and then down via the beautifully located village of Wengen to Lauterbrunnen (797m) deep down in the Loetschinen Valley.
Accommodation: Hotel Silberhorn - Two nights at this 3 star star hotel which is centrally located. The rooms are tastefully furnished and decorated.
Lauterbrunnen lies in a spectacular narrow valley and is one of the major attractions of the Bernese Oberland. One possibility is to anticipate tomorrow's long climb by walking the first part up to Murren today. From Murren we can walk back by a scenic route via Gimmelwald down to Stechelberg, from where there is an hourly bus back along the valley to Lauterbrunnen. Another possibility is to take the cable car up from Stechelberg or Murren to the Schilthorn. You also have another opportunity to take the train to the Jungfraujoch, if you haven't done so already.
It is a very long climb up from Lauterbrunnen to the Sefinenfurke Pass (2612m) our highest point for today. We may shorten the day this without missing out any of the walk by taking the cable car and railway up to Murren (1665m). 15 km/9.3 miles, 7 h.
The climb on from Murren via Brunli (2127m) is straightforward. Our exertions are rewarded by stunning views of the Eiger (3970m), Monch (4099m) and Jungfrau (4158m). From the Sefinenfurke Pass it is a steep and impressive descent into the Durenberg valley and down to Griesalp/Goldreli (1408m), for our night’s accommodation.
Accommodation: Berggasthaus Golderli - basic Mountain Inn accommodation in twin-bedded rooms or possibly the dormitory. We will inform you if this is the case. No baggage transfer to or from Griesalp.
Today is probably the hardest day with us reaching the highest point on the tour, Hohturli Pass (2778m). We are however rewarded with some of the finest scenery of the trip. The last section of the ascent from Griesalp to Hohturli is steep and aided by some stair cases with wire handrail. The hut near the Hohturli, Blumlisalphutte (2837m), is just a few minutes’ climb away and offers welcome refreshments. Then a beautiful descent past the large Oeschinensee alpine lake to Kandersteg (1180m).
Accommodation: Hotel Bernerhof - A 3 star hotel centrally located with convenient access to the hiking trails, cablecars and lifts, shops and the railway station. All rooms have a balcony, bath/shower, WC, hair-dryer, cable-TV, radio and direct-dial telephone.
A beautiful walk can be made into the hidden gem of a valley called Gasteretal, surprisingly few tourists venture here, and it is a valley full of beautiful waterfalls. Alternatively we recommend taking the Sunbuel cable car and trekking up to the famous Gemmi Pass with great views down to Leukerbad in Valais.
A long ascent with beautiful views back to the Blumlisalp Massif and the Oeschinensee. After traversing the high point of the day, Bundechrinde Pass (2380m) with some scree slopes, take the long descent to Adelboden (1356m).
Accommodation: Adler Adelboden - A friendly welcome awaits us at this chalet style 3 star hotel. Excellent small pool, whirlpool baths and sauna can be used and the dinner is one of best on the tour.
Overall a fairly gentle day. From Adelboden we climb through a mixture of woods and meadows to the Hahnenmoospass (1956m). After a level section there is a final steep descent to the village of Lenk (1068m) which lies below the Simmenfalle (waterfalls).
Accommodation: Hotel Krone - We stay in a 3 star chalet style hotel close to the center of the village. All rooms have bath/shower and WC and many have own balcony. The hotel has a lawn and sun terrace with alpine views. There is a nearby sulphur spa and public pool.
A long easy climb from Lenk to the Truttlisberg Pass (2038m). From the pass there are outstanding views of the Wildstrubel peak (3243m) and surrounding snowy peaks and glaciers. A short ascent brings us to a delightful picnic spot among mountain gentians. We then descend to the Turbach Valley and take the bus from Lauenen (1241m) down to Gstaad and walk/short train ride to Saanen.
Accommodation: Hotel Landhaus - on the site of the former town hall, the hotel was built in 1907 and renovated in 1982. This 3 star hotel has comfortable guest rooms and are in the traditional style of the region.
After breakfast, make your way to the train station for your onward journey.
The tour leader was very experienced, service minded and friendly.
A. Worm, Copenhagen, Denmark, 15 Aug 2016
Per Person, Twin Share