Eiger

The Eiger, the Ogre of the Alps

The Eiger, a sharp, knife-like peak of the Bernese Alps is guaranteed to take your breath away, whether you’re an experienced mountaineer ready to commit to the challenge of climbing it or a simple tourist who wants to take the unique railway route in the very rocky heart of the mountain and marvel at the alpine landscape through one of the “windows” carved into its face.

Some Facts

The Eiger is part of the so-called Jungfrau trilogy but it is not the tallest peak in the group. It rises up to 3970 m, behind Jungfrau(4158 m) and Monch (4107 m). The Eiger is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch protected area, a UNESCO world heritage site. A true landmark of the Swiss Alps, the Eiger rises above the mountain resort of Kleine Scheidegg, situated exactly at its base, in the canton of Bern. 

Eiger North face

There are three faces of the mountain: the north-  west face, the west face and south-east face. The eastern ridge is called Mittellegi ridge, and is also the longest and the most famous.

Getting there

To get to the Eiger you can either drive from the Geneva Airport, train or bus station to Kleine Scheidegg. There is also the possibility of taking a train from Geneva to Kleine Scheidegg. Once you arrive to Kleine Scheidegg you can take a car to the Mittellegi ridge. All the routes on the Eiger can be reached via railway from Interlaken, and you have the option of going either through Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald.

Climbing the Eiger

If you don’t want to climb up the extremely challenging peak, there are two railway stations (Eismeer, behind the south face and Eigerwand, behind the north face) situated at about 3000 m, inside the very mountain, and there are viewing windows carved into the rock, which offer a breathtaking view over the alpine valley dominated by glaciers.

Kleine Scheidegg
Kleine Scheidegg

The railway stations are part of the Jungfrau railway line, which starts in Kleine Scheidegg. The railway goes further than Eiger, reaching both Mönch and the summit of Jungfrau. The one at Jungfrau is the railway station located at the highest altitude in Europe.

grundelwald ski
Grundelwald Ski Resort

Near the Eiger

The area as a whole offers you a lot more than just climbing. You can take one of the many tours, day trips and excursions available to tourists courtesy of the local companies.  In wintertime, the Grundelwald Ski Area offers you the opportunity to ski in the shadow of the mighty, impenetrable peak of Eiger. The Jungfrau region as a whole, is your perfect postcard-like alpine holiday destination, with the beautiful and picturesque green landscape dotted by massive glaciers and rustic Swiss huts.

Climbing the Eiger

The easiest climbing route is the one from the west face and west ridge, although one must keep into account that when it comes to Eiger, “easy” does not mean a non-demanding afternoon trek. This route is also the one you should use for your descent as, again, it is the easiest one.

Eiger T-shirt
Eiger T-shirt 
Climbing the Eiger? Get your reward in advance! Eiger T-shirts for you and your group

The second easiest one would be the route tackling the south ridge and the Mittellegi ridge is also a less dangerous one.

Extreme caution is advised for climbing the north face, it is regarded as a challenge reserved only to the best prepared climbers, because it is not only exceedingly difficult, it is also very dangerous. There were many failed attempts to climbing it and over sixty resulted in fatalities.

The Normal Route

The Eiger has three access routes. The North Face is the most dangerous and advanced route while the South Ridge and Mittellegi Ridge are the moderate ones. The Mittellegi route being the famous one, you will need to have good visibility as you approach it to avoid going off-route. Accessing this glacier shouldn’t be difficult if there is good snow cover.

Route Description

For starters, you should equip yourself with technical clothing and remember to carry some personal items like a torch and crampons. 

You will have to first get to Chamonix which is the world’s most famous Alpine Centers. The best way to reach Chamonix is to catch a flight to Geneva. You will then acclimatize at the Chamonix Valley.

You will start the ascent of The Eiger with a drive to Grindlewald or use the train that runs through the Jungfraujoch railway. You can transfer to Mountain railway at the Kleine Scheidegg and opt to get off at ‘Eismeer. You will then get to Mittellegi Hut which is quite essential for your rest.

After a rest, you will take a climb to Mittellegi Ridge.  From here you can pause to take in the beautiful scenery that will engulf you. When you have conquered this task, you will then descend to the South Ridge. After which you will advance to the Monchsjoch Hut. This climb with roughly take 10 hours. You can then rest for celebration and reflection.

Based on a true story, about a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. In 1936, Nazi propaganda urges German Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif, the Eiger, bringing two reluctant climbers, Toni Kurz and Andi Hinterstoisser, to begin their daring ascent and attempt to scale the infamous rock face, often called the Murder Wall. All goes well at first as both rope teams make good headway but then the climbers lose their advantage over the mountain and the race against time and the forces of nature begins.

Accommodations around the Mount Eiger

If you want to stay in a hotel you have the options of Hotel Bellevue and Bahnhof Restaurant  in Kleine Scheidegg. Another beautiful hotel in the area is Eiger Guesthouse Hotel. For accommodation in Alpiglen you will find rooms at Berghaus Alpiglen. Swiss hotels can be quite expensive so, if you are travelling on a budget you should consider camping or staying in a hut.

There are options both for staying in a hut/cabin and for independent camping. If you are considering independent camping it is recommended to do so in a sheltered area such as the bowl below the West Flank or on the glacier, in an area where you would be protected in case of deteriorating weather conditions.

On the mountain there are several huts where you can find available rooms: on the south ridge there is Mönchsjoch Hut (the highest occupied hut in Switzerland), on Mittellegi Ridge you will find Mittellegi Hut and Ostegg Hut. The huts offer spectacular views of the area and they also have a food and beverages menu so you will be able to drink your morning coffee admiring the majestic alpine glaciers. Keep in mind that huts offer a limited amount of sleeping beds and they are often booked months in advance. You should always make sure to check for available spots and to make your reservations in time, if you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel Spinne, located in the heart of the glacier village of Grindelwald at the foot of the Eiger North Wall. The Spinne is an ice field in the North Wall which, because of its permanent snow formation, resembles a spider.

Sunstar Alpine Hotel Wengen, located in the center of the car-free Wengen, directly opposite the Männlichen Railway, which transports you to 2224 m in just 8 minutes for a greenness-free mountain experience in the middle of the breathtaking mountain scenery of Eiger, Mönch & Jungfrau.

Central Hotel Wolter, located in the centre of the chalet village of Grindelwald – surrounded by the glorious glacier and Alpine world of the Jungfrau Region.The 39 rooms and 10 apartments in the Chalet Central (directly behind the hotel) have all been furnished in attractive Alpine design. Most rooms have their own balcony with views of the surrounding snow-capped summits.

Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe

Mönchsjoch hut

Mountain Hut - Mönchsjoch hut

The Mönchsjoch hut is one of the highest mountain huts owned by the Swiss Alpine club. It is located at an elevation of 3658 meters, and is often used for ascents of Jungfrau and Mönch. However, despite the altitude, the mountain hut is easily reachable due to the Jungfrau railway. From the highest station, a secured piste over the crevassed glacier makes it possible for hikers to reach. From the hut, one can view the Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps.

Mittellegi hut

Mountain Hut - Mittellegi hut

Experience the breathtaking views of the north side green pastoral landscapes with the village Grindelwald far below, and to the south side massive glaciers and mountains. The Mittellegi hut is located at the edge sharp Mittellegigrat below the summit of the Eiger, the well-known Bernese Oberland mountain.

Ostegg hut

Mountain hut - Ostegg Hut

The Ostegg Hut situated on a lush shoulder at the north-east rigde of the Eiger is also owned by the Mountain Guides Association of Grindelwald. It can accommodate  up to 12 people.The hut is not attended and for reservation you need to process a request. It is the starting point for the ascent of the Eiger by the north-east rigde.

Make sure you always check the weather forecast, alpine weather can be tricky and climbing conditions can deteriorate quickly. Also, if you plan on doing technical climbing, bear in mind that rockfall and ice fall are not uncommon on Eiger. If you plan on tackling the difficult North Face, rockfall and ice fall are less common in winter, so, provided that the weather is stable, winter conditions are more recommended. If you plan on climbing on the other routes, these are less recommend in winter, because they can be the icy slopes can be very tricky and dangerous. The “normal’ season for climbing Eiger usually stretches from mid-July to the end of August, but weather fluctuations are a major contributing factor.

Once again, keep in mind that Eiger is a mountain that should only be climbed by experienced climbers with a good level of health and fitness. A day of climbing can take up to 9-12 hours and a lot of technical, ice and mixed climbing are involved. You should always be equipped with an ice axe and crampons. There is a risk of dehydration and the climbing steeps are extremely expose so you could experience altitude sickness. Beginners are strongly advised to avoid Eiger, there is a serious chance of a fatality if you climb this mountain unprepared.

At the end of the day, for the experienced climbers, Eiger is a challenge worth taking and for those who are on the beginners’ spectrum of mountaineering, the Jungfrau region is an alpine fairyland whose valleys are worth a trek.

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Eiger

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Eiger 46.577600, 8.005400

 

Wildspitze, the Giant in Tirol

Wildspitze mountain Austria
Der Wildspitze, a true bucket-list giant.

The Wildspitze is the second highest mountain in Austria and the highest in Tirol. With more than 100 different ski villages, the Wildspitze is a well-known setting for many wintersport enthusiastics looking for a memorable winter holiday. In summertime, the historical towns, rich culture and traditional Tyrolean customs, make this spot on earth a great location to stay after a long day out and about.

About

Located in Ötztal in Austria

The Wildspitze is located in the Ötztal Alps in Tyrol between the Ötztal and the Pitztal. It is the second highest peak in Austria with an altitude of 3772 meters. Only the Grossglockner reaches higher. The mountain was first ascended by L. Klotz, a local farmer, in 1861. However, in 1848 a group of climbers had already successfully climbed the southern summit, which is slightly lower. During the twentieth century, the snow on the north peak melted away, making the south peak higher. According to some, the ascent of 1848 is considered the first one.

The route via the Breslauer Hut is the most common. It starts in the village of Vent and the summit climb takes about four hours. An alternative route includes a stay over in the Braunschweiger Hut. As this route is more glaciated, there are more crevasses to cross, expanding the climb to 6,5 hours.

Three Best Ways to Climb the Wildspitze

The mountain is heavily glaciated and has twin summits; the South summit which is quite rocky at 3,768m and the North summit which is mostly firn-covered at 3,760m.

Best Time to Climb Wildspitze

The summer months of July, August and September are ideal especially for the normal routes. In case you want to avoid crowds during peak season, climb during weekdays. Due to ice melting on the North face route during summer, there has been increased danger of rock fall. Therefore, spring and winter seasons are recommended while using this route.

Wildspitze Climbing Routes

The Normal Route

Wildspitze (photo Fuchs Robert)

This route is considerably easy; however complete glacial equipment and experience will still be required. A local mountain guide is recommended for the glacier crossing.

The normal route starts from the Breslauer Hut which is at 2,840m over the Mitterkarjoch. Most people opt to spend the night at this hut and proceed to the summit the next morning. You could also take the chairlift from Vent up to Stablein at 2350m. An uphill ride costs €11

Two routes lead to the Breslauer Hut from Vent (1,900m); via Rofen or via Stablein. The route to Rofen has a suspension bridge across the river and is more scenic. The trail gets steeper to the north while following the Rofen Bach and after 600m, the Stablein trail joins from the right. The trail zigzags towards the west for about 200m to the hut.

The chairlift that operates in summer that can take you to Stablein. After which it will take roughly one and a half hours to the Breslauer Hut. You can opt to hike through the trail from Vent to Stablein.

There are two trails that go west from the hut; the upper one goes to Wildspitze and the lower one goes to Vernagt Hutte.

Aiming for the Mitterkarjoch, stick to the valley centre while gaining altitude; make a wide turn to the north and eventually north-east on the glacier.

Once you get to the Mitterkarjoch, the Taschachferner will stretch towards the west. Be on the lookout for crevasses here. The rocky south ridge is the easiest way to reach the summit.

The North Wall Route

This route, like the other north face routes is currently succumbing to the effects of global warming, therefore winter season is recommended as ideal to attempt a climb.

From Pitztal ski area, you can take the lift to Mittelberg Joch and then descend to the Taschach Glacier. On its left side, head south through crevasses, then west to the base of the steep wall. Once beneath this steep wall of ice, the best summit routes will be generally on the right side of the rocks that are in the middle of that face.

From the Pitz Valley Glacier

From Mittelberg Joch, which can be accessed via a cable car, head southwards to the Taschachferner glacier’s eastern edge. Without height gain and under an icefall, proceed westwards. There will be crevasses on your left.

From the snow bridge, turn left heading south-east, pass below the Hinterer Brochkogel and proceed beneath the Mitterkarjoch. The slope is much steeper from here. Make a right turn once you reach the base of the summit. The last hundred meters to the summit are completed by foot over icy snow and rocks.

Pitztal Valley

Pitztal Valley
© Ben The Man

The Pitztal Valley is one of the most-visited places around Wildspitze. A unique family atmosphere permeates the village streets. You find yourself in the middle of the Alps. Pitztal is a side valley of the Inntal. The villages of Wenns, Sankt Leonhard im Pitztal and Arzl im Pitztal are the most important stops for tourists.

Ötztal

Ötztal
© Daniel Fuchs

Idyllic is probably the best word to describe the nature in the Ötztal from hilly alpine meadows to the eternal snows high up in the mountains. There are several villages in this valley that will immerse you into the traditional Tyrolean culture: Sautens, Haiming-Ochsengarten, Sölden, Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and Vent. All of them are great starting bases to discover the many hiking trails leading through this region.

Mountain Huts near the Wildspitze

Breslauer Hut

Mountain hut - Breslauer Hut
Breslauer Hut

The Breslauer Hut is a German Alpine Club mountain hut located at the base of the Wildspitze, the highest mountain in North Tirol. Due to its elevation of 2844m, it isthe perfect starting point for ascents up Mount Wildspitze. When the hut was built in 1882, there were only 15 sleeping places inside. Nowadays, it accommodates at least 172 people. It takes about three hours to reach the cabin from the village of Vent. Popular mountains climbed from this hut are the Hinterer Brochkogel, Ötztaler Urkund, Wildes Mannle and the Wildspitze. Hikers often stayover before hiking further to Braunschweiger Hutte, Taschachhaus or Vernagthutte.

Braunschweiger Hut

Mountain hut - Braunschweiger Hutte
Braunschweiger Hutte

The Braunschweiger Hut is slightly lower than the Breslauer Hut with an elevation of 2759m. The hut, owned by the German Alpine Club,is situated close to the Mittelbergferner Glacier along the E5 long distance hiking trail. Its wooden interior evokes the charm of the Tyrolean Alps. The smell of the traditional Austrian cuisine servedadds to the atmosphere. Many hikers set the cabin as their goal to get tremendous views of the Mittelbergferner Glacier. You can opt to hike your way up or use the Gletscherexpress lift, before descending your way down. The hut has 56 beds and 127 matress dormitories.

Vernagthutte

Mountain hut - Vernagthutte
Vernagthutte

Starting from Vent, it takes about three hours to reach Vernagthutte (2755m). The cabin is open from March to mid-May, and from mid-June to mid-September. There are 192 places to sleep.

 

 

Accommodations in the region of the Wildspitze

Tirol stretches over Austria and Italy and has become a popular winter sport destination. In the summertime, the region around Wildspitze lures active travelers from all over the world with its fine mountain vistas. If you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

geierwallihof
Geierwallihof

I highly recommend Geierwallihof in Vent. It is the last building up in the valley, where the road ends and the mountains begin. I stayed there a few times with my father and we had a lovely time. The Klotz family takes care of groups with the same personal touch as if you are by yourself. Enjoy the cordial and refreshing atmosphere surrounded by the most beautiful mountains of Tyrol.

Hubert is also an experienced  mountain guide who takes his guests for beautiful hikes. The route is discussed and fixed the day before. Food and drinks are prepared by their kitchen. When required, the hotel bus provides transport, free of charge.

 

Hiking near the Wildspitze

Vent: Webcam − Blick auf
 Live view of Vent

If you are looking for an active summer holiday, the Otztal in Tyrol has plenty to offer from family circular walks to glacier tours. The many huts, lakes and trails that connect them provide great fun while in the nature of Tyrol.

Mittelbergferner Glacier

From the village Mittelberg at the end of the Pitztal, you can take the Gletscherexpress or hike your way up to the Mittelbergferner glacier. This takes about 2 to 3 hours. If you wish to stay in the nearby Braunschweiger Hut, you will need proper equipment to cross the tongue of the glacier.
Starting from Sölden in the Ötztal valley you can hike to Pitztaler Jöchl.

Sellrain Hut Loop

The Sellrain Hut Loop is a tour divided into 7 stages with walking times between three and six hours. It is ideal for beginners and mountaineers planning for higher targets. The alpine paths lead from hut to hut all the way through the Sellrainer mountains. The tour often starts in Sellrain and has an overall distance of 78 kilometers during which it gains and loses 5,950 meters of elevation.

Nature exploration trail

The nature exploration trail is one of the many thematic trails found in the region. The hike is suitable for all levels across the Sölden ski area. The trail starts at the middle station of the Gaislachkogelbahn and ends at the Edelweiss Hut. Along the way of this 7km trail, you will be educated about several topics including the fauna and flora to be found there or the ancient customs and traditions of the Ötztal. Furthermore, it offers insight into the dangers that can be found on the mountains. Hiking the Nature exploration trail takes about two hours during which you ascend 100m and descend about 450m.

Hike to Heidealm

Starting in the village of Sölden, you walk to the church and take the steeply-rising trail leading to the hamlet of Innerwald. Then continue your hike to the area known as “Stiegele” before a rising pasture trail takes you to the Gaislach forest road. This will bring you to the Gaislach Alm mountain inn where you will find the further trail to the mountain hut, Heidealm. The remaining hike willascend and wind. This trail is rated an easy hike and can be completed in 1h30 min. However, most of the trail you will be ascending towards the hut, so make sure you are fit to undertake this hike.

Hut Tour Windachtal

If you have an active holiday in mind filled with hiking in beautiful mountain scenery, this hut tour might be perfect for you. This hut tour starts in Sölden and can be completed in three to five days, depending on your preferences. If you choose the five-day itinerary, you will find yourself hiking for 4 to five hours a day. Along the way, you can sleep in several mountain huts, where you can rest and enjoy some Austrian specialties. The severe elevation change (4000m+) makes this a difficult tour for experienced walkers.

Ötztal trek

For those with more time on their hands, the Otztal trek affords the ultimate Tyrolean experience. A total distance of 400 kilometers, divided into 22 sections and gaining over 30000 altitude meters, this multi-day trek guarantees picturesque mountain views, idyllic mountain lakes and thrilling trails leading to even better vistas. The Ötztal trek is a string of exceptional viewpoints to the summits of impressive 3000 meter peaks in the high alpine terrain.

Hochoetz

The alpine hut region, Hochoetz, is truly a hikers paradise. The Acherkogelbahn takes you up to 2020m in no time, at the starting point of several well-marked hiking trails. It is recommended whether you are looking for easy hikes to nearby mountain huts or a more challenging tour over the mountain tops and sidevalleys of the Ötztal.

Hiking with kids

If you are on an active holiday with young children, you can find many family-friendly hikes around the area. However, if there is one hiketo recommend, it would be the Zwerglerweg. This hike starts at the middle station of the Gaislachkogel gondola and leads to the quaint Goldegg hut. The hike will give the children an opportunity to discover different stories and fairytales. The hike only takes about 40min and leads downhill, making it an easy walk.

Things to do around Wildspitze

Mount Wildspitze is located in Tyrol, Austria, a region where visitors are enchanted by the imposing mountain surroundings. The Ötztal is surrounded by several mountain huts and alms, making for great daytrips for hikers. Don’t forget to soak up the traditional culture by participating in one of the festivals during the summer or enjoying typical Tyrolean specialties such as Tiroler Gröstl and Kiachl with cranberry jam.

Ötzi
In Umhausen (1031 meters) you will find the Ötzi Museum, which was established as a result of the discovery in September 1991 of the Ötzi iceman.

From the car park of the Ötzi museum you can take a walk to the highest waterfall in Tyrol. The Stuibenfall falls 150 meters in depth, and is the highest waterfall in Austria

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Wildspitze Map

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Wildspitze Map 46.885429, 10.867260

The Seven Easiest 4000m peaks in the Alps

Seven easiest 4000m peaks in the Alps

Are you looking for a climbing challenge, but lack the experience to tackle the Everest? No worries, there are several mountain peaks in the Alps that will look great on your climbing resume and are a good climb for novices.

  1. Breithorn, 4164m
  2. Gran Paradiso, 4061m
  3. Mont Blanc, 4810m
  4. Monte Rosa, 4634m
  5. Weissmiess, 4017m
  6.  Lagginhorn, 4010m
  7. Allalinhorn, 4027m

However, bear in mind that to climb the relatively easy 4000m peaks in the Alps you are best of with a local guide.  It is necessary to have basic mountaineering knowledge in terms of glacier safety, rope work, using crampons and ice axe. Also know how to deal with the changing weather and snow conditions.  

Climbing 4000m+ requires strength, endurance, and strong cardiovascular conditioning. Also bring some shoes fit for the job. 

Here are seven easy mountains in the Alps that will help you reach your goals, higher than 4000 meter. 

Breithorn, 4164m

The Breithorn is regarded as the easiest of all 4000 meter peaks in the Alps. This because a cable car towards Klein Matterhorn will bring you up 3883m, leaving with only a mere 300m to climb. Most mountaineers are able to get the climb done in 3 hours or less.

Easiest route – The easiest route to climb the Breithorn is by taking the cable car up to Klein Matterhorn and follow the normal route that leads you in about 3 hours to the summit. The route crosses a glaciated plateau before ascending and following the ridge.

Why climb it?

Not only because the Breithorn is an easy and short climb, but its location is one of the main reasons why it’s a popular climb. It is nestled in between the Monte Rosa massif and the iconic Matterhorn. Obviously you get impressive views from the summit.

How to reach it?

The Breithorn is best reached via Zermatt in Switzerland, a mountaineering village at the base of the iconic Matterhorn. The cable car at the end of the Mattertal will bring you to the Klein Matterhorn, just over 3800 meter. From here you can start your climb to the summit of the Breithorn.

Mountain huts

One of the best places to spend the night before attempting a summit bit is Gandegghütte. This is a cosy little mountain hut located about 30 minutes from the Trockener Steg cable car station (same cable car that leads to Klein Matterhorn).

It is not only a great place to spend the night for acclimatizing reasons, but the views towards the Matterhorn are simply impressive. Also, the Breithorn is looming behind the mountain hut and seems quite intimidating from this point of view, despite being an easy climb.

Another option is the Theodulhutte, with an altitude of 3317m, located near the highest mountain pass in the Alps. It would take a longer hike from Trockener Stegg and involves crossing a glacier (though be it a safe one).

Gran Paradiso, 4061m

The Gran Paradiso is the highest independent peak in Italy and offers impressive panoramic views on the Mont Blanc massif and many other renown peaks in the Alps such as Grand Combin and Monte Rosa. Most of the ascent involves crossing slight angled and glaciated snow slopes which require basic glacier travel experience. The last part of the ascent however, involves a simple though very exposed rock climb to reach the summit. However, this final 50m of ascent can be easily done due to the fixed bolts for protection. The Madonna statue on the summit makes a great photo opportunity. The peak is often climbed as a acclimatization climb for Mont Blanc attempts and can be quite crowded during peak season. For this reason, there can be a bottleneck on the last rocky part.

Normal Route – The easiest route to climb the Gran Paradiso is the normal route starting from Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele or Rifugio Frédéric Chabod. Both mountain huts are easily accessible from Valsavarenche via good mule-tracks. From the hut it is advised to rope up to cross the glacier and meandering through the easy-angled snowslopes. The real climb only starts when reaching the Traditional Peak, where the little statue of Virgin Mary is situated. To reach it, you need to scramble along the summit ridge. Fixed bolts make it an easy and safe rock climb. Though this part is quite exposed and might well be crowded. Allthough, the summit with the Madonna is the goal for all mountaineers with Gran Paradiso on their list, it is not the actual summit. The ‘true’ summit is more less towards the north, but is quite technical.

Why climb it?

Not only are you climbing an easy 4000 meter peak, but Gran Paradiso is the highest mountain completely located in Italian territory. It’s a great climb to learn basic alpine skills and gather experience in rock scrambling at high altitude with crampons.

How to reach it?

Both Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele and Rifugio Frédéric Chabod can be reached from Valsavarenche and are great bases to make your summit attempt. In Valsavarenche there is a free parking area, just at the begin of the path to refuge Vittorio Emanuele II, where you can leave your car.

Mountain huts

The Chabod Hut is one of the two most-used mountain huts for climbing the Gran Paradiso. It is located at the foot of the north-west-face of the mountain in the heart of the national park. Situated at an elevation of 2750 meters, a hike of several hours (2.5h) is needed to reach it. The footpath leading up to it dates from the hunting days of king Vittorio Emanuele II and winds through the woods. The refuge offers services with 85 beds during the summer season and in springtime (for skiing).

Refuge Victor Emanuele is the second refuge often used for Gran Paradiso climbs. It is named after king Vittorio Emanuele II who hunted in the area in the past and gave the national park its status. It takes about two hours to reach from the village of Valsavarenche. With an altitude of 2735m, it is similar in height to the Chabod Hut. It is capable of hosting 120 people, but is only open during the summer season. Prices to stay range from  €3 (sleeping bag) – €65 (all-inclusive)

Mont Blanc, 4810m

It might seem a bit surprising but despite being the highest mountain in the Alps, the Mont Blanc is also one of the easiest to climb regarded from a technical level. The normal route is a great first alpine experience and requires little technical difficulty. Though acclimatization and glacier travel basics should lie in the capabilities of those who attempt it. You need to very, very fit.

First ascent – The first ascent was made on August 8, 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard.  

Easiest route – The easiest route to climb the Mont Blanc is the Gouter route starting from Chamonix. Most summit attempts are undertaken from the Gouter Hut (3835m) or Refuge de Tete Rousse (3167m). In between lays the Aiguille de Gouter, the most technical part of the ascent with a dangerous crossing over the ‘Grand Couloir’ because of the constant stonefall. Allthough I climbed this part in early morning (spent the night at Tete Rousse), it is recommended to stay in Gouter Hut instead and cross this part in daylight for maximum safety. There is a safety line you can secure yourself on, to avoid fatal falls.  Above the Gouter hut, you are constantly exposed to strong winds, though the technical level of the route is low. Just be prepared for high winds on the summit ridge which is narrow and exposed.

Why climb it?

The Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe. The summit is located on the Swiss-Italian border, giving tremendous views in the Chamonix valley and the Aosta valley.

How to reach it?

Mont Blanc can be climbed from both Chamonix as well as Courmayeur. Chamonix however is your best choice when tackling from the easiest route, the Gouter route. The ascent starts in Le Faye tor Saint-Gervais where you can take the Mont Blanc Tramway to Nid d’Aigle. Both villages are reachable with public transport in the valley. From here a hike will take you to Tete Rousse. To reach Gouter Hut, one need to climb the Aiguille de Gouter, a more technical rock formation.

Mountain huts

The Refuge du Gouter(3835m) is a new hut replacing the older Gouter Hut and is the starting point for most Mont Blanc ascents on this route. This makes that can be quite crowded here and reservations well in advance are a must.

If you don’t mind a longer ascent (2-3 hours longer), you can sleep in the less-crowded Refuge de Tete Rousse (3167m). This makes for a very long ascent and requires you to cross the Grand Couloir and climb the Aiguille de Gouter in early morning.

Monte Rosa, 4634m


The Monte Rosa is the second largest mountain massif in the Alps. It has ten peaks reaching over 4000 meter, most of them easy to be climb for novice mountaineers. The highest peak is the Dufourspitze (4634m) and is located in Switzerland. This makes it the highest mountain in Switzerland. The peaks can be tackled from Swiss side, as well as from the Italian side. The two highest peaks, Dufourspitze and Nordend, are more technical and require some experience. Zumsteinspitze on the other hand is well within reach for beginners.

First ascent – The first ascent of Zumsteinspitze was made on August 1, 1820 by Joseph Zumstein.

Easiest route – There are several routes leading to Zumsteinspitze, allthough the easiest one is from the Italian side. Most ascents start at the Gnifetti (3647m) or Mantova hut (3498m). The time required for climbing via this route is 5 hours from Gnifetti and about half an hour longer from Mantova Hut. It goes fully over glaciated terrain, so glacier crossing experience is required, though the route is technically easy. Along the way there are several other peaks that are easy within reach such as Vincent Pyramid (4215m), Ludwigshöhe (4341m), Parrotspitze (4432m) and Punta Gnifetti (4556m). 

Why climb it?

The Monte Rosa Blanc is the second-highest massif in the Alps. Zumsteinspitze is a very good goal to set as you get tremendous views and can spend the night in the highest mountain hut in the Alps.

How to reach it?

Zumsteinspitze in the Monte Rosa massif can be both climbed from Swiss and Italian side, though the Italian normal route is easiest when setting Zumsteinspitze as your goal. It is best to take the cable car from Gressoney, Staffal all the way up to Punta Indren (3250m). From here you will have to walk and cross the Indren Glacier, so crampons are advised. You can spend the night in either the Mantova Hut or the Gnifetti hut.

Mountain huts

There are two hut options from the normal Italian route to climb Zumsteinspitze: Gnifetti and Mantova hut. The advantage of the Gnifetti Hut is the higher altitude and better location (closer to the mountain). Another accommodation option is the famous Capanna Regina Margherita, the highest mountain hut in Europe at 4554 meters, situated on top of Punta Gnifetti / Signalkuppe. Though acclimatization is required to spend the night here.

Weissmies, 4017m

Weissmies is a prominent mountain surrounding the famous Saas valley in the very eastern part of the Swiss Kanton Wallis, close to the Italian border. The name literally means ‘white moss’, which refers to the glaciated summit of the peak.

First ascent – The mountain was first climbed in 1855 by Jacob Christian Häuser en Peter Josef Zurbriggen.

Easiest routeThe route along the Northwest flank of Weissmies is considered the normal route on the mountain. The vicinity of the Hohsaas cableway makes it even possible for climbers to climb Weissmies along this route in a single day. However, since this would require descending in soft snow, it is recommended to spend the night in the Weissmies Hut and make an early start.

Why climb it?

Weissmies has a prominence of 1186 meter and an altitude of 4017m. The closest mountain that is higher (Lenzspitze, 4294m) is about 11 kilometers away, making Weissmies the highest peak in this part of the Alps.

How to reach it?

From the village of Saas Grund in the Saas valley, you can take the Hohsaas cable car to get higher in a short amount of time. Take the cable car ip to either Kreuzboden or Hohsaas to reach the mountain huts, located at the base of the normal route.

Also, the trails leading to Weissmies Hut or Hohsaas Hut start here as well.

Mountain huts

The Weissmieshüt is located to the west of Weissmies high above the Saas valley. It is easily reached from Saas Grund by using the cableway system up to either Kreuzboden or Hohsaas. The hut is situated at the base of the normal route up to Weissmies along the Trift glacier (NW-flank).

An alternative for the Weissmieshütte is the Hohsaas Hut. Though it is less cosy and doesn’t have the typical mountain hut “feeling” like the Weissmies hut, but it is closer to the summit (and at an higher elevation) and therefore a good alternative. 

Lagginhorn, 4010m

The Lagginhorn is only to be seperated of the Weissmies by the Lagginjoch (3499m) and is therefore located in the Wallis kanton. It might well be the only 4000 meter peak that requires no crampons or ice axe.

First ascent – The mountain was first climbed on August 26, 1856 by Johann Joseph Imseng, Franz Joseph Andenmatten, Edward Levi Ames, 3 English climbers and 3 guides .

Easiest route

The easiest route to the summit of Lagginhorn is via the West Ridge. Most of the route is a steep path in very loose scree, only to be interrupted by short sections that require a little scrambling. From the Weissmieshut, it takes about 4-5 hours to reach the summit. From Hohsaas, only 3-4 hours are required.

Why climb it?

When the summit is snow-free, no crampons or ice axe are required making this mountain a great goal for those who wish to have the mountaineering feel without having the technical experience.

How to reach it?

From the village of Saas Grund in the Walliser Saastal, you can take the cable car to Hohsaas or hike your way to Weissmies hut.

Mountain huts

The Weissmieshüt is located to the west of Weissmies high above the Saas valley. It is easily reached from Saas Grund by using the cableway system up to either Kreuzboden or Hohsaas. The hut is situated at the base of the normal route up to Weissmies along the Trift glacier (NW-flank).

An alternative for the Weissmieshütte is the Hohsaas Hut. Though it is less cosy and doesn’t have the typical mountain hut “feeling” like the Weissmies hut, but it is closer to the summit (and at an higher elevation) and therefore a good alternative. 

Allalinhorn, 4027m

The Allalinhorn is a well-known peak in the Swiss Alps. Firstly because it is one of the 82 mountains that reach above 4000 meters. Secondly because it is one of the easiest to climb 4000 meter mountains. The vicinity of the Mittelallalin top station, which drops climbers off at an altitude of almost 3500 meters, makes the climb quite similar to the Breithorn. Still, the Allalinhorn is an alpine climb and should not be undertaken lightly.

First ascent – The mountain was first climbed on August 28, 1856 by Johann Joseph Imseng, Franz Joseph Andenmatten and Edward Levi Ames.

Easiest route

The heavily ascended Normal route of the Allalinhorn is graded F+ and is one of the most climbed routes in the Alps. The route starts at the Mittelallalin top station at 3450 meters. As a result, climbers only have to deal with an altitude difference of just over 500 vertical meters to reach the summit. Though the climb is considered no more than a mere walk-up on glaciated terrain, it still has the dangers of crevasses present.

Why climb it?

The Allalinhorn is the easiest of 4000 meter peaks to climb and therefore is an great way to claim bragging rights. The summit offers views on famous peaks such as the Monte Rosa, Matterhorn, Weisshorn and Mont Blanc Massif.

How to reach it?

The starting point for the normal route on Allalinhorn is Saas Fee, also named the Pearl of the Alps. From here you can access the ski facilities to reach Mittelallalin.

Mountain huts

There are several mountain huts in the region of the Allalinhorn, however none are really needed to climb to the summit due to the vicinity of the cable car system. For those who wish to climb from the valley up, the Berghaus Langfluh (2870m) is a good option for climbing Allalinhorn along the normal route.

3 Ways to climb the Breithorn, the easiest of all four thousanders.

Breithorn

The Breithorn

Breithorn
Breithorn, near Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland

The Breithorn is a beautifully curved, 4,164 meter (13,661 ft) high mountain peak with its summit lying on the border of Switzerland and Italy. Zermatt, in the Swiss Canton of Valais, would make the best starting point for your trip. It is considered the easiest of all 4,000 meter peaks in the Alps. This is due to the cable car leading to the Klein Matterhorn (3,883 m). From that point, a mere 300-meter or 3-hour bid divides you from its summit. Still, the terrain is glaciated, making basic alpine knowledge necessary.

However, it is not only the facility of climbing this mountain that attracts so many climbers. The Breithorn is located between the Monte Rosa massif and the Matterhorn, giving it an idyllic location with great views of two awesome mountain ranges.

 

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Breithorn Map

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Breithorn Map 45.940765, 7.748022

Breithorn map

 

As the Breithorn is regarded as the easiest to climb of all the 4,000 meter peaks, this is not the main reason why it is a popular climb for mountaineers. Closely nestled between the Monte Rosa massif and the Matterhorn, the Breithorn has a unique location providing views of the most famous mountains in the Swiss Alps.

quickly jump to:

 

 

Zermatt: Gornergrat − Riffelberg

Live view of the Matterhorn, just next to the Breithorn.

 

Breithorn Climb – relative easy, but best with a guide.

breithorn-climb
Climbing the Breithorn. Photo: Maximilian Cieszynski

3 Best Ways to Climb the Breithorn

With an elevation of 4,164m above sea level and a prominence of 433m, the Breithorn is Italy’s sixth-highest Alps mountain. It is located between Italian and Swiss border; specifically in the Valais and Aosta Valley region. The Breithorn which is German for “broad horn” forms part of the mountain range within the Pennine Alps. Its highest peak is the Western Summit.

The Breithorn is mostly glaciated with other subsidiary peaks which lie east of the main summit. They include the Roccia Nera, the Central Breithorn, the Gendarm or the eastern Breithorn Twin and the western Breithorn Twin.

Its first ascent was recorded back in 1813.

Best Time to Climb the Breithorn

The peak season falls in the months of July and August which are the warmest months. However, any time from May to October can be ideal to summit the Breithorn.

Breithorn Climbing Routes

The Breithorn is considered to be one of the easiest 4,000m peaks in Switzerland to climb. This is because the Klein Matterhorn cable car (from CHF 95,00) is used from Zermatt to take climbers to about 3,820m for a starting point. Its gorgeous views make it quite popular. You can catch the spectacular views of the Monte Rosa Group with all the 4000m and above summits, the Dent Blanche, the Matterhorn and the Weisshorn.

There are three main routes to choose from; the South-South-West Face also known as the Normal Route, the Half Traverse of the Breithorn or east ridge of the central summit and the north face (Triftjigrat).

Monte Rosa Massif
Breithorn Occidentale

The Normal Route (SSW)

It is the easiest route since it is accessible by cable car. The Klein Matterhorn cable will whisk you over 3800m from Zermatt.  This will give easy access to the Breithorn Plateau. Rope up for the glacial travel to get across the plateau. Climb diagonally right of the west and central summit. The fine snow will lead you to the west ridge, a few metres shy of the summit.

  • Skill Level

Since it is mostly a glacier and snow route, the primary challenges are high altitude and crampon technique. Avalanches can be a hazard in poor weather conditions. Lives have even been lost.

It is a recommended route for beginners or inexperienced climbers. Adequate fitness and basic crampon techniques are a prerequisite.

  • Best time to use this route

As long as the cable system is working, the route can be attempted all year round. Mostly summer seasons are ideal. Winter attempts can be made however there is potential avalanche danger.

  • What to carry

A crevasse rescue kit and a 30m glacier travel rope.

The Half Traverse

It is also made accessible by the Klein Matterhorn lift from Zermatt. It has solid, excellent rock and steady snow. The general feel of high exposure makes it a special route. The ridge’s north side is mostly vertical and has a narrow crest. You will need to climb using hands on the north side and feet on small footholds on the south side.

Next you will begin the climb traversing the glaciers below the south side. This can be accessed via the Roccia Nera bivouac (Schwarzfluh or meaning Black Rock) to the bergschrund. Short rope the steeper snow to get to the coll at 4,022m. Proceed upwards to the ridge proper.

From here you will encounter short sections of snow and exposed easy rock. Climb over the three towers of the ridge. You will then take an easy walk to the east summit and finally traverse a corniced crest to the higher west summit.

Descent is via the normal route.

  • What to carry

A crevasse rescue kit, a few wires, slings and a 50m glacier travel rope.

  • Skill Level

This terrain is a technical climb and you will need adequate knowledge of when to long pitch, short pitch, short rope or long rope.

The Triftjigrat

This is a classic alpine climb route. It is quite a lengthy climb, about 1,400m meaning you will have to be fit and fast. From the Gandegg, head downwards onto the Theodul glacier (Theodulgletscher) the move across. Gradually move up and then take a left to the left side of the spur just before the Triftjiplateau.

Traverse across this and you’ll reach a steep couloir that’s from the summit. You can either short rope or short pitch to the western summit before an easy descent via the normal route.

  • What to carry

A crevasse recue kit, wires, slings, ice screws for the belays and a 60m rope for longer pitches. Snowshoes will come in handy especially when crossing the Theodulgletscher.

the summits of the Breithorn

Accommodations near the Breithorn

Zermatt is the base for those who wish to see or climb the Breithorn. Zermatt is to Switzerland what Chamonix is to France. This mountaineering village breaths history as you will see traces of the past. Not in the least is the Zermatt cemetery where several mountaineers lie buried.

Hotels/ Campsites in Zermatt

Zermatt is flocked with day tourists taking the Glacier Express train to the village, since no cars are allowed in the center. Most of them spend the night in one of the many hotels in the village. However, for those on a budget, or spending a night in Zermatt before commencing their hike, there is a campsite available, the closest being camping Matterhorn at the entry of the village about two minutes from the train station. This is only for tents as there is no way to reach the campsite by car. Cost is 15 CHF/ day. If you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth considering:

Hotel Alpenhof is located in the center of Zermatt, in a sunny, quiet location near the train station. The opposite cable car Sunnegga and the Gornergratbahn, which is only a five-minute walk away, lead you directly to Zermatt’s ski and hiking paradise – within easy reach of the Matterhorn.

Hotel Albana Real in Zermatt welcomes you to a refined yet familiar atmosphere. The luxurious cozy rooms, expressing a touch of Art-Deco, invite you to enjoy tranquility and relaxation.

 

Hotel Butterfly is ideal for modern globetrotters and active snow sports enthusiasts. You feel comfortable in the cozy rooms and you feel at home. The center of Zermatt is around the corner. The train station, the famous Gornergratbahn and the mountain sports facilities can be reached in 3 minutes on foot.

Mountain huts in the area

Mountain hut - Gandegg Hutte
Gandegg Hutte

If you’re planning on climbing the Breithorn, you can easily take the cable car to Klein Matterhorn in the morning and climb the peak up and down in a few hours before returning to Zermatt for a delicious raclette. However, for those who wish to have a bit of a mountaineering feel, other options are available.

Gandegghütte

The Gandegghütte is a cosy little mountain hut accommodating climbers and hikers. It is located about 30 minutes from the Trockener Steg cable car station. Not only is it a great base for climbing Breithorn, but it provides a comfortable night of sleep for those who wish to hike the Tour de Monte Rosa or hike to Theodulpass. From the hut, you get splendid  views of Breithorn and the Matterhorn.

Mountain hut - Theodulhutte
Theodulhütte

Theodulhutte / Refuge du Théodule

Another great trip is to Theodulhütte or ‘Refuge du Théodule’ at 3.317 m., close the Theodulpass. This is the highest mountain pass in the Alps. From Zermatt, this requires a lengthy ascent to Trockener Steg (or a short ride on the cable car) before crossing the Theodul glacier leading to the pass. Near the pass, you will find the Theodulhütte often used by hikers of the Tour de Monte Rosa. It has 86 beds and it is open from June till September.  (Phone +39 – 0166 949 400)

Mountain hut - Monte Rosa Hut
Monte Rosa Hut

Spending a night in the Monte Rosa Hut is a great experience. This innovative structure has a very recognizable silver-colored surface that looks like mountain crystal. But not only the structure is modern. The several integrated solar panels and thermal solar collectors provide 90 percent of the energy consumed by the mountain hut. Melting water is collected in a rock cavity while a filter system cleans the wastewater. The hut is mostly used by mountaineers looking to climb the Dufourspitze via the normal route.

 

Hiking routes with views of the Breithorn

While the Breithorn is often overlooked due to the neighbouring Matterhorn, the massif is one of the Alps classics.

BreithornTour the Matterhorn

Despite the fact that this 145-kilometer trek circumnavigates the Matterhorn, it provides great views of the Breithorn on the sections near Zermatt. It is best done during the summer in July or August when the weather is good and the mountain huts where you’ll be staying are open. Some experience with glacier hiking may be necessary as you will be crossing the Theodul glacier. An alternative is to hire a guide for this portion of the trail.

Tour de Monte Rosa

The Tour de Monte Rosa is another multi-day trek in the same area. It provides great views of the Monte Rosa massif, the Matterhorn and the Breithorn as well. It crosses the Theodulpass, the second highest mountain pass in the Alps and explores the Valais region and the Valle D’Aoste. Along the way, spending your nights in cabins such as Europahutte and Gandegghutte makes the experience of hiking in the Alps even better. Both Gandegghutte and Theodulhutte are recommended stayovers offering splendid views.

Abenteuerweg

The Abenteuerweg or Adventure trail is a steep trail (900 meters in little over 4 kilometers) leading from the Rothorn to Tufteren. You will be descending all the way and still be rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding 4,000-meter peaks, including the Breithorn. The trail takes about 1h40 min to complete, without the many stops for taking pictures, that is.

Aussichtsweg

Aussichtsweg
photo Ian Slingsby

This short hike is suitable for a levels. Along the way, you will be enchanted by panoramic views of 29 mountains above 4,000 meters. So, you could say that the trail lives up to its reputation. Few trails this short provide such scenic panoramas of the Alps–a real must if you are short on time.

Zermatt to Gornergrat via the Riffelsee

The Gornergrat is situated at the end of a mountain train line, so it’s easy to take a train back to Zermatt afterwards (CHF 40 one-way). From this point, you are offered great views of the Monte Rosa, Lyskamm, Castor, Pollux and Breithorn. You can reach Gornergrat by hiking to Riffelalp through the forest and then take the furthest trail to the south above the Gorner valley. This leads to the Riffelsee, where you will see the trail going towards the Gornergrat. It takes about five hours oneway, so if you intend to hike back down as well, be sure to make an early start. At Rifferalp, you will pass by a 5-star hotel that features some of the most delicious Rösti with bratwurst.

Zermatt to Chalbermatten and return via Zmutt and Zum See

photo Izakigur

This hike brings you under the north face of the Matterhorn, meaning you will catch great views of the Monte Rosa massif and the Breithorn. It is one of the classic hikes that takes you through the beautiful hamlet of Zmutt. The ideal walk would be to make a loop by starting via Eldelweiss and take the high contour via Hubel. A detour via Zumsee is recommended if you are getting hungry after the walk. Max und Greti’s offers the best cinnamon ice cream you will eat during your visit to Switzerland. They also have full menus available.

Hike to Trockener Steg / Gandagg Hutte

A popular option for a hike is towards Trockener Steg and Gandagg Hutte. The route passes Schwarzsee, which offers great views of the Matterhorn and surrounding 4,000-meter peaks. The ascent to Trockener Steg from Zermatt ratchets up the altitude meters. If you’re not sure about your physical capabilities, there is the option of using the cable car before descending back to the village. Gandagg hutte, located about 30 minutes from the Trockener Steg cable car station, offers great accommodations for an overnight stay. In the area are great walks towards the Theodulglacier or even Klein Matterhorn.

Things to do in the Breithorn region

For those with mountaineering ambitions, the Breithorn is a peak within access of most abilities. If you have no prior experience in mountaineering, be sure to hire a guide in Zermatt. Hikers, on the other hand, are tempted by the Theodulpass close to the Breithorn massif, since this is not only one of the highest passes in the Alps, but it marks the border between Italy and Switzerland.

There is no doubt that hiking is one of the best things to do while spending your time in the Mattertal. This will provide you the best views of some iconic 4,000-meter peaks. The cable car up to Klein Matterhorn makes it easier for those with less time. Also, with over 100 kilometers of biking trails reaching 1,400 to 3,100 meters of altitude, the region around Zermat offers a unique mountainbiking experience suitable for all levels.

zermatt valaisDay tourists will have no problem filling their day in Zermatt by visiting the Matterhorn Museum, wandering the streets and enjoying some delicious Valais specialties in one of the many restaurants. Chances are high that you will need to take the train to leave the Mattertal (or at least Zermatt). However, the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Brig is known for its scenic mountain views and is considered as one of the best train journeys in the world. Here you can check for things to do in Zermatt.

Hiking with kids near the Breithorn

Kids child carrier backpack for hiking
Photo  by furiousmadgeorge 

Spending your holiday in Zermatt with small children? Even if your children can’t yet walk, there are some great options for hiking. The Rundwanderung Täsh is a great round-trip hike suitable for those who wish to get some great views. The little altitude difference makes it ideal for families with children, even if you decide to bring a baby carriage. You can swim in the Schalisee Lake, rest at one of the many playgrounds along the route or enjoy the views on the Breithorn.

The best travel times to the Breithorn

The best travel times to the Breithorn are the months of May through September. The average day temperature fluctuates between 20 and 25 degrees, although it can still get very cold up the mountain. The greatest chance of sun is in July and August.

In general, Switzerland can be visited all year round, but for wintersport the period from January to March is the best travel time. For hiking in the mountains the best time  is from July to September.

The high season in Zerrmatt is from the end of June to the end of August and from the end of December to the end of March.

Sights

Switzerland is a popular destination for both winter sports enthusiasts and fanatical hikers because of the Alps. Wallis, also known as Valais, is a popular region. It is the region around Breithorn and the more famous mountain Matterhorn, including the tourist town Zermatt at the foot of the Breithorn.

 

Flora and fauna in the region

In spring, the tender flowers of the Soldanella are the first to penetrate the alpine meadows through the last layer of snow. It is the beginning of a beautiful flower season, which is considered by many tourists as the main attraction of Valais. In the months of May and June the deep blue gentians still bloom on the slopes between 1200 and 1600m; after that, the flowers in the higher areas are fully in bloom.

The climate in Valais ensures exceptional vegetation. Due to the influence of the sun, the tree line can rise above 2000m. Anywhere else in Europe trees usually won’t grow above 1750 m. As people get higher up in the mountains, however, the vegetation decreases. Logical, when one considers that the average temperature ins July at 4000 m altitude is -9 ° C.

Protected flowers and plants

The Swiss Institute for Nature Conservation has ensured that a large number of flowers and plants are protected in Valais. This means that it is forbidden to pick or dig out such flowers or plants. The pink mountain Cyclamen and the blue Alpine Columbine are protected. Various lilies may also not be picked, and the same applies to various orchids that can bloom on the alpine pastures.

Of course there is Edelweiss, but that plant has become so rare that it is hard to discover it in the wild. Also the alpine roses (family of the azalea) are protected, just like the Männertreu, a deep red to vanilla scented flower, which is named so because it almost immediately falls out when it is unexpectedly plucked. Which casts a light on the one who made up the name. Thousands of succulents and mosses thrive on rocky ground.

In the endless alpine meadows, herbs grow like thyme, cumin and fennel. These plants are often decisive for the strongly scented alpine air that guides walkers almost always on their journey.

Not protected but also worth mentioning is the yellow Arnica Montana, a plant of about 50 cm height, which is often used to relieve pain during sprains or contusions. The rubbing with a single flower on a bruise can provide relief after a short time, but more solace offers a brew of boiling water with some crushed flowers that has been able to attract at least a quarter of an hour. Here compresses can be soaked.

Wildlife

The Institute has had since 1976 a unique visitor center on the Riederalp (Villa Cassel), where thousands of visitors come every year. This villa was built in the beginning of the 20th century, and Churchill spent his holidays there. He said he slept like a Murmeltier, and he felt as healthy as never before. The Murmeltiere Churchill speaks of are the specific alpine marmots, which occur everywhere in Wallis, but especially in Aletschwald. They live in colonies in very extensive cave systems. Their hibernation lasts from October to April.

Murmeltier breithorn
Murmeltier

Other animals are of course the chamois and ibex, which generally live above the tree line and are excellent climbers and jumpers. Their food consists of grasses, mosses, pine needles, twigs and tree bark. During the winter months they often come a little lower, in search of food. It is interesting to be able to observe the animal spores in the snow.

In the typical Valaisian fauna, you should of course also mention the Saint Bernhard dogs, which can be visited on the eponymous pass, and the black Ehringer cows, which mainly occur in the Val d’Anniviers. Valais also has a number of birds of prey, including the golden eagle, the griffon vulture and the eagle owl. The large swarms of alpine crows (Dohlen), which live at high altitudes in the summer, and find plenty of crowing around hotels and holiday homes in the winter, hoping to find something to their liking.

 

 

How to Make the Most of Your Grand Teton Expedition

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Mt. Grand Teton

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Mt. Grand Teton 43.741000, -110.802400

How to Make the Most of Your Grand Teton Expedition

The captivating mystique-Grand Teton has a unique allure to many mountaineering enthusiasts. It is located in Northwest Wyoming within the Grand Teton National Park.

The Grand Teton is part of the Teton Range which is a series of the Rocky Mountains found in North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch from southern Alaska to northern New Mexico.  This central massif comprises of other principal summits like Mount Owen, Mount Wister, Teewinot, Middle Teton, South Teton, Buck Mountain and Static Peak.

 

The Grand Teton forms the highest point in the Teton Range and is Wyoming’s second highest peak standing at 4,199m after the Gannett Peak.

Hedrick Pond Overlook (Grand Teton National Park)
Grand Teton National Park Photo by Ken Lane

Geology and formation

The Grand Teton is a fault block mountain. About 9million years ago, the Teton fault was formed with the thinning and stretching of the earth’s crust. The fault’s west block rose to form the Teton Range while the east block along the fault line slid downwards to form the valley known as the Jackson Hole.

Mountains tend to appear ageless but similar to humankind, they go through the natural processes of aging. The stages of birth, youthfulness, maturity and old age are common with all mountains. They eventually disappear with time as destructive processes act on them. These processes may appear slow to us, and may even go unnoticed but they have definitely been operating over eons of years.

The Grand Teton being at the youthful stage is constantly exposed to these destructive processes that carry debris away and continually sculpture its rugged features.

Grand Teton Climate

The Grand Teton experiences a semi-arid type of climate. From November through to January, snow dominates making them the wettest months. On higher altitudes, snow thickness averages 450 inches annually while in the valleys, snow averages 191 inches annually.

The highest recorded temperature is 34 °C while the lowest recorded temperature is −54 °C.

Since temperatures fluctuate frequently at higher altitudes depending on the weather patterns, you should be prepared to expect the temperatures to plummet with at least 10°C to 15 °C at any given time.

January is the coldest month with an average of −3 °C and July is the warmest month with an average of 27 °C.

Precipitation averages slightly over 21 inches annually with January having the highest amount of rain and July the lowest.

Climbing Grand Teton

For many rock climbers and mountaineering enthusiasts, the Grand Teton is a popular destination because most routes are accessible by road. The well-marked trails and established summit routes are additionally magnetic.

Most climbers are essentially left to determine their own skill level while being keen on not exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.

For beginners and those less familiar with the routes, I suggest you contact guide services who provide climbing escorts and instructions to the summit. Exum Mountain Guides is known to be the best service provider when it comes to mountaineering in the U. S.Jackson Hole Mountain Guides is equally among the finest. These two companies have a concession in the park.

Few things to note before you summit:

  • Check weather conditions for the route you intend to use. The Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers has an online site that is constantly updated during the climbing season with condition reports. This will help you pare down the right equipment.

You can reach the rangers on (307) 739-3343 for summer conditions, and for winter conditions (307) 739-3309.

  • Inform a friend or relative on your return date such that they can alert the necessary people in case you are overdue. Remember to carry a cell phone with you as much as this is highly dependent on whether reception will be available.
  • All routes lie in the alpine environment so expect temperatures to change from normal to sub-freezing with storms, snow and dangers of rock fall.
  • The two classic routes to the summit of the Grand Teton are the Exum Ridge and the Owen Spalding. So pack your equipment according to the route you choose.
  • Make sure you are well hydrated before and during the climb to help acclimatize better.
  • Start your hike early to the Lower Saddle regardless of whether you intend to pull an overnight stay or not.
  • Keep monitoring the weather and be prepared to abort the mission if the weather seems to take a turn for the worst. Lightning strikes have killed several climbers.
  • Also plan to be done with the summit by noon to avoid thunderstorms.
  • You will need two 60m ropes, trekking poles, helmet, rock shoes, mountaineering boots, crampons, water, ice-ax, tent and sleeping bags for an overnight stay and extra clothing.

 

How long does it take to climb Grand Teton?

The Grand Teton summit is roughly 2 miles but it climbs 2700 ft. For experienced climbers and those in peak physical condition, the mountain can be summited in a day, about 6-8 hours round-trip.

However, if you want to spend more time with this peak and enjoy it to the maximum, you can space out your climbing time to 2 or 3 days.

 

When is the best time to climber and Teton?

The summer season begins in June till early September which is also the climbing season. July is the most popular month as it is the driest and warmest month, however, it is prone to afternoon thunderstorms. So plan an early start and be off the summit before 1 pm latest.

Any permits, passes or reservations needed?

You will not require any permit to climb the Grand Teton but you will be required to acquire one only if you will staying overnight. The permit is acquired at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station.

Many campgrounds have a first come-first served approach, however, they may require reservations for group camping.

Since the Grand Teton is within the Grand Teton National Park, you will be charged an entrance fee of $35 for a private vehicle, $30 for a motorcycle and $20 for a hiker or biker. All permits are valid for 7 days.

Boating and floating permits can be acquired at Colter Bay visitors center or Moose Jenny Lake.

 

Accommodation on Grand Teton

Camping on Grand Teton

sunrise at Jenny Lake
Sunrise at Jenny Lake Photo by Diana Robinson

The Grand Teton National Park offers 5 campgrounds with no need for a reservation unless you are planning a group camp. Jenny Lake has a campground with 49 sites which fills up very fast as it is only meant for tents.

Other campgrounds include Flagg Ranch with 175 sites, Signal Mountain with 86 sites, Gros Ventre with 360 sites, Colter Bay with 350 sites and Lizard Creek with 60 sites. If you want a full RV hookup, Flagg Ranch and Colter Bay got you covered with over 100 sites.

One of the best camping options before your climb would be the American Alpine Club Climbers’ Ranch. You don’t have to be a member to stay here. It offers rustic accommodation at a fee of only $20 per night. Just bring along your bedding and mattress. Showers and cooking areas are provided.

You can reach them at (307) 733-7271 or email: gtcr@americanalpineclub.org

 

Mountain climbing routes

The Lupine Meadow trailhead is the starting point for most mountain routes. This will lead you the Garnet Canyon and after 1.7miles or so, the trail will come to a fork. Stay on your right for another 1.5 miles which will bring you to another fork. If you choose to use the Exum Ridge or Owen Spalding routes, turn left and proceed for about 1.1 miles. At this juncture, you will find the Platforms campsites at 8,960ft.

As you continue upwards to Meadows, you will come across the Upper Morraine campsites and the Lower Saddle headwall will appear above it. From the Lower Saddle, there are at least 38 routes to the Grand Teton summit. Most climbers prefer the Exum Ridge and Owen Spalding routes.

If you choose the Owen-Spalding route, while descending the upper portion trend towards your right till you reach a slab, then proceed left to the rappel station. Hike back to Lower Saddle after rappelling to the gully.

If you decide to you use the North Face routes or to climb via the East Ridge, your trailhead approach will still be from the Lupine Meadow only that you will turn right at the second fork where the Amphitheatre Lake lies.

Grand Teton Hiking Trails

  • Lake Solitude-this is a tough hike but it offers the best and most scenic views of wildlife, lakes, the park’s largest waterfall, and the mountain slope.
  • String Lake Loop-I recommend this trail if you want something less physically straining or demanding. This route offers scenic views which include a reflection of Grand Teton in the Spring Lake. Have an early morning start for you to enjoy this beautiful glimpse.
  • Cascade Canyon-it is one of the most popular trails in the Grand Teton. Moreover, you will be treated to a view of the Teewinot Mountain that is near the canyon’s mouth. The Canyon trail is also known for its wildflowers and if you are lucky you can spot some wildlife.
  • Static Peak Divide-this is an extremely challenging hike trail but it offers epic scenic views.
  • Amphitheatre Lake-this is the best trail to a mountain lake in the park. While standing on the eastern shores of this subalpine lake, you will be treated to the views of the Grand Teton, Teewinot Mountain, Disappointment Peak, Mt. Owen and the Middle Teton.
  • Taggart Lake-this is considered the easiest trail and consequently one of the most popular in the park. Spectacular views of Grand Teton can be fully enjoyed from this trail.
  • Garnet Canyon-it is also among the easiest trails in the park. You will enjoy viewing the Grand Teton with its majestic nature and Middle Teton’s molten dike that you will definitely find fascinating.

 

Emergency/Information Center

  • In case of an emergency call 911
  • Grand Teton National Park: 307-739-3300
  • Grand Teton Nation Park (for those with impaired hearing):307-739-3400
  • Emergency Management Teton Wyoming: 307-733-9572
  • John’s Medical Centre: 307-733-3636
  • John’s Medical Centre(ER): 307-733-7250
  • Teton County Sherrif:307-733-2331

 

Flora on Grand Teton

Grand Teton and its environs are home to over 1000 plant species. Soil conditions, slope, elevation, and moisture are a key determinant to where certain plants grow.

On the Jackson Hole valley that has loose rocky soil, the silvery-green sagebrush is quite diverse.

Grasses, willows, wildflowers, cottonwood, and sedges grow along the Snake River because of their moisture-loving characteristics.

Lichens, longleaf phlox, and mosses grow in the alpine zones.

 

Fauna on Grand Teton

There are over 61 species of mammals found in the Grand Teton National Park including the gray wolf. Carnivores like the Grizzlies with the American Black Bear being quite common, coyote, marten, river otters and Canadian lynx have also been spotted roaming the great lands too.

Chipmunk at Grand Teton
Chipmunk at Grand Teton photo by Amy the Nurse

Rodent species include muskrat, chipmunks, squirrels, snowshoe hare, porcupines, beavers, and bats.

Over 300 bird species have been recorded including the trumpeter swans, American wigeon, harlequin duck, blue-winged teal, eagles and calliope hummingbird and Other birds also prey include red-tailed hawk; osprey,  and American kestrel and peregrine falcon have been spotted there too.

Four reptile species have been spotted as well including the garter snake and rubber boa. One lizard species-the sagebrush lizard has been recorded.

Hiking with Kids

There are numerous hiking trails with beautiful sceneries to explore with your children around the Grand Teton.  Most of the things have been incorporated in the next section.

 

Things to do

  1. Rock Climbing

This can be a fun climbing activity for yourself and your children too. Exum Mountain Guides are well known for their popular program for families. They can also customize the day’s activities as per your wishes. It normally takes place at the Hidden Falls. One of the prerequisites for signing up is that a family must have a kid under the age of 14 years.

You can reach them on 307-733-2297 for prices and bookings.

  1. Whitewater rafting

Be prepared to get soaked with your children at the Snake River rapids in Jackson Hole and Whitewater rafting is also a sure thrill. I suggest you arrange your trip with one of the guiding outfits in the area like Sands Whitewater. Consequently, the cost ranges between$80 and $100 for adults while the kids rate is slightly reduced. Please note that children under the age of 6 years cannot participate in this activity.

  1. Visit the Granite Hot Springs

This rustic pool is a 112-degree natural hot spring located in Jackson Hole. In fact, why not allow your kids to splash and swim here while you relax your sore muscles after a tough climb?

The cost is $8 for adults and $5 for children.

  1. Wild, Wild West Rodeo!

Yaay! Go and feel more Western at the Jackson Hole Rodeo by participating in bull riding, calf roping, bronc riding and also barrel racing too. Sounds fun, right? It is normally open from 8 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Rodeo shows are normally presented throughout July and August on Friday evenings and the cost is about $35 and $5  only less for children.

  1. Take a horseback trail ride

Want to have a feel of the tradition and texture of the West? Get on the back of a horse and also enjoy a ride on one of the very well-mannered and trained horses at Jackson Hole. Ignite the cowboy/girl within!

  1. Ride a boat across Jenny Lake

How cool is this! Jenny Lake sits as a pearl necklace shining and lacing the base of the Grand Teton. At a small fee, the short boat ride will give you a different perspective of the Teton and you also can choose to hike to Inspiration Point where you are treated to a gorgeous view of Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole from atop!

  1. Float or fish in the Snake River

Snake-river at Grand Teton
Snake River at Grand Teton photo by Ken Lane

The calm and mild section of the Snake River comes with amazing things to offer.  In fact, just like lazily floating on a raft with a goofy guide cracking jokes and you may most likely be paired with another family. Moreover, you and the kids can make a friend or two on-shore and can also choose to fly-fish instead, no?

 

  1. The Moose Visitor Centre

Basically, this visitor center offers great human and climbing history, the geology of the region and an awesome display of wildlife. The kids are free to touch and pick the antlers and horns displayed which can be quite fascinating as well.

  1. Go bike riding

Moreover, the Grand Teton National Park has paved bike paths so it shouldn’t be difficult for you to enjoy some good exercise while communing with nature. The paths normally come to an end at the parking lot of the stunning Jenny Lake. Though, you can rent a bike in the small town of Moose or better still, from Jackson town at a small fee. And while at it, drop by Dornan’s-the locals’ favorite pizza joint and grab a slice for me!

Climbing Mt. Baker: Here’s What You Need to Know

Mount Baker

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Mt. Baker

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Mt. Baker 48.776700, -121.814400

Climbing Mt. Baker: Here’s What You Need to Know

Mt. Baker or Kulshan has an elevation of3,286m and is among the five major stratovolcanoes known to have erupted more than 200 times over the last 12,000 years.

It is found in the east of Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington. The residents of Seattle are often tantalized by Mt. Baker on a clear day and the view from the San Juan Islands is simply breathtaking.

 

Although heavily glaciated, the cone is the youngest in the Mt. Baker volcanic field with no more than 80,000 years.

It is hosted by Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and is known to offer great outdoor recreation opportunities like skiing, mountaineering, hiking, and snowboarding.

Skiing & Snow boarding at Mount Baker
Skiing & Snow boarding at Mount Baker

Geology and Eruption

Mt. Baker was formed as a result of volcanic activity over many years and is a mixture volcanic debris and lava ash. Black Buttes, an older volcano where Mt. Baker now sits atop was active about 300,000 years ago. Much geological evidence has since been eroded when thick ice sheets surrounded the volcano and filled the valleys during the last ice age.

Mt. Baker has two craters; Carmelo Crater and Sherman Crater. The Carmelo Crater is mostly ice-filled under the summit and is home to the mountain’s highest point-Grant Peak on the southeast side. Sherman Crater is the younger one located on the southern side of the summit. It has numerous fumaroles that vent poisonous gases like hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide.

Mt. Baker has not had explosive eruptions like the other nearby mountains and the frequency has been quite minimal. However, it has the potential of being highly explosive. The mountain has a steep terrain with fractures and underground water which makes it prone to landslides, debris avalanches, and lahars. These are the major destructive events that occur on Mt. Baker. There have been four periods when fresh lava erupted (magmatic activity). The last major eruption happened 6000 years ago, although a small explosion was witnessed in 1973  where ash was spread in the nearby region.

 

Mt. Baker Ski Area

Mt. Baker is the second-most glaciated peak after Mt. Rainier in the Cascade Range. The snow and ice on this mountain have a volume of 1.79 kmhence why it is famous for being among the snowiest places on earth. Mt. Baker Ski Area in the northeast set a world record in 1999 with the highest recorded snowfall of 1140 inches in one season.

Mt. Baker Ski Resort
Mt. Baker Ski Resort Photo By Abhinaba Basu

Mt. Baker Ski area is a Ski Resort found on the North Cascades in Washington. It offers 1000 acres of skiable land. This area experiences the highest annual snowfall. It is serviced by 38 runs and 8 lifts covering an elevation gain of 455m. It will cost you an average $40 for a ticket as an adult for a day and $660 for a seasonal pass.

 

As much as its snow quantity is unbeatable, the quality of the snow tends to be low. Its fresh snow has high water content and it keeps deteriorating.

Many snow riders love this spot because the bountiful backcountry is easily accessible and the terrains are extremely inbound (expert terrain). There is a free handle tow for beginners with reasonable progressions, so you don’t have to fret. Since it is all about the chutes, trees, hits, powder, steeps and cliffs, the mountain is an expert area not advisable for grooming skiers.

I suggest that you adhere to the weather forecast warnings and don’t forget to gear up!

Inside scoop: if you don’t want to ski on tracked snow or to encounter crowds, avoid the weekends, wake up early to grab first lifts, and then go straight to chairs number 5and 6.

 

Facilities at the Ski Resort

The resort may not be heavily commercialized but it has several amenities like day lodges that offer great fare. It has no spas or sleigh rides.

A quick summary of the Pros and Cons

Pros

  • It is rarely crowded unless it is a weekend.
  • Plenty of snow volume and many powder days.
  • Quite adventurous for experts because of the inbound terrain and backcountry.
  • During midweek it is delightfully inexpensive and the lodgings will be worth your dime.

Cons

  • The chair lifts are a bit slow.
  • It has a small ski inbound area
  • Don’t expect smiley weather. There is a reason why there are too much snowfall-rare blue skies.
  • There is no accommodation on the mountain, limited internet access and cell phone service and few shops.

 

Mount Baker Climate

Precipitation ranges between 70 and 140inches in the higher altitudes and 30-50 inches in the lower levels annually.

The average annual temperature in Mt. Baker is 43.3°F. The highest annual temperature is 55.8°F, and the lowest annual temperature is 30.8°F

The highest recorded snowfall level is 641 inches.

 

Climbing Mt. Baker

Can anyone climb Mt. Baker?

This climb is ideally open to anyone with a passion for hiking or mountaineering. It offers excellent mountaineering with its tremendous snowcapped peaks, to beginners and veterans alike.

Crevasses at Coleman Glacier at Mt. Baker
Crevasses at Coleman Glacier at Mt. Baker Photo by G310ScottS

Low visibility and exposure are the main challenges due to its variable changing weather. I suggest you confirm snow and avalanche conditions before attempting the climb. Crevasses are also a danger though they provide amazing camera opportunities.

It is important that you have basic training on using crampons and ice-axes, crevasse rescue, glacier travel, self-arrest, and rope techniques. You will also need to have experience in carrying 30-50 pounds of weight on your back and will need to be in a top physical condition in terms of endurance, strength and cardiovascular.  A tracker should prepare for about 3-6 months prior to climbing Mt. Baker.

You will additionally be required to equip yourself with gaiters, trekking poles, technical clothing, climbing harness, hiking socks, mountaineering boots, sun hat, ski goggles,a headlamp and a helmet.

How long does it take to climb Mt. Baker?

It will take you 2-3 days to successfully summit Mt. Baker. The Easton Glacier route is normally done in 3 days while the Northside Coleman/Deming Glacier is done in 2 or 3 days.

When is the best time to climb Mt. Baker?

Any time of the year can be ideal to attempt a climb as long as you keep yourself updated on the mountain conditions and heed to the warnings. However, the most popular time is during summer in the months of May through to August.

Any permits, passes or reservations needed?

The Forest Service will not require you to have a permit to climb Mt. Baker. However, I highly recommend that you fill out the Voluntary Climbing Register.

Campfires and leaving traces behind are prohibited.

You should use the mountain toilets provided or pack out your human waste in blue bags that can be acquired from your ranger station and will require a valid recreation pass to access and park at the trailheads and the parking lot of the Artist Point. After that, you can get this from any ranger station or call +1 800-270-7504 where a day Pass will cost you $5 and an Annual Pass costs $30.

The party size is limited to 12 people.

 

Accommodation on Mt. Baker

Camping on Mt.Baker

Once you acquire the regional pass, camping on the mountain is free of charge. But feel free to contact Mt. BakerRanger District for information on pay campsites that are situated within the park.

The Easton Glacier route has few options with regards to camping. You can camp along the Railroad Grade or immediately before the Easton Glacier (can be overcrowded sometimes). The trailhead has a restroom and a very descent meadow.

The Mt. Baker Lodge offers an awesome alternative to camping especially if you’ll be using the north side routes.

The Inn at Mt. Baker is another fine Bed and Breakfast establishment that offers great views of the majestic mountain.

Other hotels include Fairhaven Village Inn, Coachman Inn, Comfort Inn Bellingham, Chrysalis Inn and Spa, Moon Dance Bed & Breakfast et al.

Mountain climbing routes

The classic climbing routes to the summit are Boulder-Park Cleaver, North Ridge, Squak Glacier, Easton Glacier, Coleman Headwall, Colman Ski Descent and Coleman/ Deming Glacier. The North Ridge is the most difficult route because of complex glaciers and steep walls.

The Coleman/Deming Route

It is the most used by climbers among all the other routes. It is considered a moderate route for general mountaineers and can be done in 2-3 days. The approach is from Heliotrope Ridge Trail. Proceed south while ascending towards the edge of Black Buttes. You can choose to camp here or continue with the ascent. Skirt around Black Buttes while keeping ample distance to avoid rockfall or avalanches, then you will get to the saddle at the base of Roman Wall. Proceed past this wall to the summit plateau. Descend via the same route. You can also opt to descend while skiing.

The Easton Glacier Route

This is one of the easiest routes though a bit irritating due to the high use of snowmobiles as it lies in the mountain’s recreational area. The trail starts at Schreiber’s Meadows. You will hike through water streams, timber, and forested slopes. From high camp, you will proceed northeast to the base of Sherman Peak. Go past the Roman Wall to the summit. Descend via the same route. You can choose to do a hike out afterward to conclude the adventure by grabbing a bite at “Bobs” in Sedro-Woolley.

Emergency/Information Center

  • In case of an emergency call 911
  • For mountain conditions call the Sedro Woolley Office: 360-856-2714
  • Whatcom County Sheriff: 360-676-6650
  • Baker Ranger District –Glacier PublicServive Centre: (360) 599-2714

 

Flora and Fauna on Mount Baker

Devils club Berry
Devil’s club Berry Photo By USDA Forest Service Alaska Region

Animals in Mt. Baker considerably vary. Chipmunks, the grizzly bear, mountain goats, marmots, the elk, black-tailed deer, butterfly, and bird species are a huge part of this ecosystem.

Along the river banks, you will spot the skunk cabbage, devil’s club, salmonberry and beautiful ferns that brighten up the landscape.

A vegetative cover includes douglas fir, subalpine fir, western and mountain hemlock, western redcedar and at higher altitudes, you find the alpine meadows.

 

Hiking with Kids

It is very possible to summit Baker with your children. As long as they are well equipped and trained. Give encouragement as you go along and have several Nutella breaks, cool?

Good news is that there’s a 6-Day Glacier Mountaineering Course that is offered at Mt. Baker for children between 14-17 years. However, younger children can also be trained.

Things to do

Apart from summiting Mt. Baker, there are so many other interesting things to do and see.

Hiking

Mt. Baker has numerous hiking trails from beginner stretches to “experts only” trails. You can opt for guided hikes and be sure to make friends with other cool hikers like you!

Snowboarding and Skiing

These can be experienced at the Mt. Baker Ski Area because of its accumulated snowfall. It is normally open from November 1 through to May 2.

There are other wintertime activities to explore like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, or you can go eagle-watching in the lower rivers.

Water Rafting

The Nooksack River is a great spot for water rafting. I promise you it will be an experience to remember! You can also choose to visit the shuttering Nooksack Falls.

Swimming

Many lodges and hotels have provisions for swimming. Large swimming pools are almost a necessity in the Baker region. Plus what a better way to cool off in the fine hot weather. But if you’re cut from a different cloth, you can go make an authentic, wild splash at Silver Lake Park!

Fishing

In the Nooksack River, there are five salmon species which can be fished. The Silver Lake also offers great trout-fishing opportunities. But be warned, fishing requires lots and lots of patience! So be ready to be emotionally and mentally stretched before your first catch, no?

Nooksack River
Nooksack River Photo by Patrick McNally

Dining

Oh! The sound of this! Whatcom County is blessed with amazing wining and dining facilities. Moreover, the cool evening breeze and glowing soft lights will make you feel so much at home, even when you are miles away from home-get the drift?

Live music with its entire splendor, piercing the air with saxophones, trumpets, and violins at the Britannia Hotel Aberdeen will make all your senses come alive.

Other dining spots include the Wake and Bakery, Graham’s Restaurant, Milano’s Italian Bistro and the Craven’ Burgers and Brew.

Additional things to do

  • Berry picking and hunting during fall.
  • The cottonwoods and maple leaves are at their peak color at the North Folk Valley between September and October. So it is the perfect time to enjoy a drive.
  • During summer, moonrises color the skies and the beauty are just one to behold. You can enjoy an evening of peace and reflection at such moments.
  • Outdoor barbecues are a great way to meet people and learn about their culture.
  • Horse-riding, mountain biking, and backpacking are additional ways to spice up your summer days here.

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Climbing Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji

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Mt. Fuji

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Mt. Fuji 35.363200, 138.730000

The Ultimate Guide to Climbing Mount Fuji

One look at Mt. Fuji and you’re hooked! It is the perfect definition of cone-symmetry and beauty combined. It has a wide base and a slope that smoothens as it narrows to the peak. Located in Honshū near the Pacific Coast and barely 100km from Tokyo, Mt. Fuji stands at 3,776m and known for Japan’s tallest mountain.

It is a stratovolcano with layers of ash, rock, and lava formed by violent eruptions.

It is considered to be an active volcano because it squarely lies where three tectonic plates overlap, known as the “Tripple Junction”.These three plates are the North American Plate, The Eurasian Plane, and the Filipino Plate. The last eruption occurred in 1707, and the ash fell on Tokyo. Unbelievable! But since there is no proven direct way to measure the pressure of magma, there are no clear indications that eruption is imminent.

Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park Photo by SteFou

Mt. Fuji is surrounded by four small cities namely Fujiyoshida, Fuji, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya. Five lakes also add to the magnificence of this mountain; Lake Sai, Lake Shoji, Lake Motosu, Lake Yamanaka and Lake Kawaguchi. The mountain is part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Sacred Fuji

Mt. Fuji is Japan’s main symbol. It is considered a sacred mountain hence the many shrines at the base of it. Its graceful shape is known to have inspired great works of art. It has remained popular throughout the centuries. Especially after it was declared a World Heritage Site in June 2013 by UNESCO, it has become quite iconic.

The fact that Mt. Fuji lies between the Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures, on clear days, it can be seen from Yokohama and Tokyo. However, clouds often hinder the visibility of the mountain. Visibility is much better during cold seasons as compared to summer periods. Also, early mornings and early evenings would be ideal.

 

Mount Fuji Climate

Mount Fuji experiences a Tundra climate, especially at the summit. This climate is characterized by scanty rainfall, extreme cold, and heavy winds. The cone is normally snowcapped for several months in a year due to the low temperatures in higher altitudes.

 

Climbing Mt. Fuji

Mount Fuji is visited by thousands every year, both locals and foreign tourists. Many with a goal to climb to the summit, others to just enjoy the view. It does not require any technical expertise to ascend it. However, due to its rapidly changing weather(unexpected thunderstorms, hailstorms, heavy downpours), steep inclines and rocky terrain, it is important to be well prepared with the right clothing and equipment. As you gain altitude, the air will inevitably get thinner so I would recommend that you pace yourself during the climb to allow for acclimatization. This will help decrease your chances of altitude sickness.

Even though there is no snow in the months from June to October, temperatures at the summit are likely to drop way below zero. And in this case, I highly suggest that only experienced hikers should consider undertaking the ascent.

A side note though; there are no restrictions regarding off season (July/August) climbing. There are signposts indicating that the trails are closed to minimize climbing accidents.

Appropriate mountaineering gear and equipment is essential if snow is present on the mountain.

Proper hiking boots, layered clothing, a headlamp, ski poles, some cash, and snacks would be ideal to carry along if you want to enjoy climbing Mt. Fuji.

As I mentioned earlier, Mt. Fuji is a sacred mountain, so learning the culture will be an additional advantage. A tip from me would be that you observe good manners. This entails not picking plants, no carrying stones back home, no setting up fires even camping on the mountain.

Is there a fee? Yes, a small fee of 1000 yen is required per person and is collected at the stations. It goes towards maintaining the environment and improvement of safety for climbers.

 

Best time to climb

There is an official climbing season on Mt. Fuji. This season refers to when the mountain facilities and the trails are in operation.

The peak season is normally during school break which is from early July to mid-September. The other peek is during the Obon week which happens in mid-August. The crowds are quite large during this period.

However, if you don’t want to encounter huge crowds, I recommend climbing Mt. Fuji on a weekday especially on the first weeks of July before schools close. Though the weather in early July can be a bit harsh.

The weather on the mountain is relatively calm towards the end of July till early September and the summit free of snow. It is a good time to tackle the mountain if you don’t have hiking experience.

Climbing the mountain from October to June is highly dangerous and I would advise you to steer clear due to a high risk of ice avalanches and gusty winds.

For you to witness the breathtaking sunrise from the summit, climb during the early morning hours as the mountain is likely to be free of clouds. How can you achieve this? You ask.

I recommend climbing to the 7th or 8th station on the first day. Get your sleep and rest on one of the mountain huts. Then proceed to the summit very early the next morning. See, no rocket science!

The sunrise in summer takes place between 4:30 am and 5:00 am.

You may also choose to start the climb late evening from the designated 5th station through to the summit during the night. This option is greatly discouraged because of increased chances of altitude sickness and fatigue.

It is also possible to ascend and descend the mountain during daytime in a single day, but I would not recommend it for similar reasons as above.

 

Accommodation on Mt. Fuji

To say the least, while being modest, accommodation here borders on primitive. The probable reason would be that the huts are more of a cultural experience than comfort-focused.

Mountain huts at Mt. Fuji
Mountain Huts at Mt. Fuji, Japan

Don’t expect hotel conditions. The huts are like large dormitories, so you better get used to the idea of sharing space in close quarters. All the huts are more or less similar. Sleeping bags and mattresses are provided. Some even provide heaters to keep you warm and toasty.

Some huts offer paid toilet services at a cost of about 100 yen, and other huts provide rest space for climbers who don’t intend to stay the night. This will dent your pocket by 1000-2000 yen.

 

Most huts provide water, food, canned oxygen, hiking sticks and other items that you may deem necessary. Of course, at a cost.

Pssst! Here’s a tip. If you’re on a budget, buy your water and food items at one of the 5th stations because the items increase in price as you go higher up the mountain.

 

Mountain climbing routes

This mountain has 10 stations in total. The first station begins at the base of the mountain while the 10th one is on the summit. Most people begin their ascent from the four 5th stations because the roads are paved up to this point and are accessible by buses or rental cars.

From the 5th stations, there are four major routes on different sides of the mountain.

  1. The Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station or Kawaguchiko 5th Station is the base for the Yoshida Route.

It is the most popular among the four 5th stations and easiest to access and most developed which offers a good spot for sightseeing even during off climbing seasons, especially the Fuji Five Lakes and is accessible all year round. It has many restaurants and shops, parking lots and locker coins. You can get here by bus or rental cars via the Subaru Line which begins at Kawaguchiko Station.

Lake Kawaguchiko
Lake Kawaguchiko Photo by Guilhem Vellut

The Yoshida route is equally the most popular however high human traffic may be encountered especially on the 8th station. There are numerous huts and this trail provides a scenic view of the sunrise for those who don’t get to the summit in good time. It also has separate ascent and descent trails. You will ascend in 5-7 hours and descend in 3-5hours.

  1. The Subashiri 5th Station is the base for the Subashiri Route.

This station is less developed than the Fuji Subaru Line 5th station. It only has a parking lot, toilets and few restaurants.

The Subashiri route is not as crowded as other routes until the 8th station where it joins the Yoshida route. You will ascend in 5-8 hours and descend in 3-5hours.

  1. Gotemba 5th station is the base for the Gotemba Route.

The ascent to the summit is longer because it is the lowest of the four stations. It is the least developed with only a shop, toilets and parking lots. The terrain is full of lava rocks and has a few huts. You will ascend in7-10 hours and descend in 3-5hours. During the descent, you could easily run from the 7th station to the 5th station in about 30minutes because the path is covered in loose ashy gravel.

  1. The Fujinomiya 5th Station is the base for the Fujinomiya Route.

The station is the closest to the mountain summit. It is easily accessible by public transport from the western side of Japan. It is slightly more developed than Subashiri and Gotemba 5th stations.

The Fujinomiya trail is the shortest to the summit and it will take you 4-7 hours to ascend. The descent on the same track can take 2-6 hours. However, congestion is likely during peak season.

 

Fauna on Mount Fuji

Approximately 100 species of birds have been spotted on Mt. Fuji. There are also frogs and a few species of other reptiles.  The Kano River has a type of fish called “Ayu” which means sweetfish.

Marmots, black bears, squirrels foxes and insect species are also present on the mountain.

 

Flora on Mount Fuji

From the base of the mountain, you will find forest vegetation consisting of bamboo grasses, cypress, beech, maples and Nikko firs. As you get to the top, plant life is minimal due to the harsh weather conditions. You can spot mosses and lichens though.

 

Hiking with Kids

For the adventurous family, Mt. Fuji would be an ideal hiking project to undertake. Children at 7 years and above can comfortably climb the mountain, but I would not recommend them trekking to the summit because of the unpredictable weather conditions at high altitudes.

 

Things to do

Mt. Fuji being in Japan’s Capital City-Tokyo, means that you will not run out of things to explore and experience apart from hiking the mountain itself.

Visit Lake Kawaguchiko

It is the second largest of the Fuji Five Lakes. It offers quite a view of the locals fishing. You will find yourself naturally relaxing as you take in this beauty. There are many hiking routes which you could explore just for fun. There are also coffee shops around so you can sip away your troubles.

The Fuji 5th Station

This is a perfect spot for getting the best view of the mountain itself, without having to climb it!

Eat at HoutouFudou

This restaurant is famous for its hot noodles, a local dish. The masterful combination of mushroom, tofu, white cabbage, pumpkin and udon will make your taste buds summersault!

You got to try it!

Aokigahara Forest

Aokigahara forest
Aokigahara Forest photo by Guilhem Vellut

Well, it’s known to be world’s second suicide spot, but it’s a beautiful forest worth your time. You will get to see the Narukawa IceCave that makes ice seem adventurous.

Lake Yamanakako Cruiser

Enjoy an elegant cruise on the swan-shaped ship as you enjoy scenic views from the base of the mountain. The Ship is modernly furnished to suit your taste.

Shibazakura Festival

With Mt. Fuji forming a great background for the pink flowers, it is a scenery to behold. These flowers (moss phlox)are like Mt. Fuji’s royal carpet. Go experience the pink affair that is only witnessed in springtime.

The Fuji Sengen Shrine

If you’re a cultural enthusiast, this is a must-visit spot. The architecture and history behind it are simply mind-blowing!

The Yoshida Fire Festival

It is celebrated at the Fuji Sengen Shrine as a way of bringing to a close Mt. Fuji’s climbing season. A torch is lit in front of every house in Fujiyoshida and the city is on fire. Not literally though.

Celebrate thePaul Rusch Festival

Dr. Paul Rusch is celebrated for dedicating his life to build the Kiyosato highlands. There are numerous rows of tents bearing fruits, vegetables, and artworks.

Shiraito Falls

Shirato Falls
Shirato falls photo by Reginald Pentinio

As a matter of fact that these flush falls are in the middle of lush green vegetation and you can , feel free to pass by though it isn’t a must-visit as there is nothing much to do here.

Running Events

If you love keeping fit, there are many running races held throughout the year. And a run through the beautiful scenery of Yamanashi and grape fields and the views of Mt. Fuji would be quite a painless and memorable workout!

Grape festival

Here’s one for the wine lovers similarly, the free wine and grape samples are available to celebrate during the harvest season and you could practice your wine-tasting skills here my friend!

At the end, one last thing don’t forget your camera and You will definitely want to document your Mt. Fuji experience for yourself and others. Get a shot of the breathtaking sunrise while at it!

 

 

Mount Rainier: Mountaineering, Hiking and Things to do

Mount Rainier

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Mt. Rainier

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Mt. Rainier 46.852300, -121.760300

Mount Rainier: Mountaineering, Hiking, and Things to do

Mt. Rainier is Cascade Range’s highest mountain and the highest peak in Washington, the U.S. It is an active volcano which sits southeast of Seattle and is within the Mt. Rainier National Park. It is quite prominent topographically and it rises to an elevation of 4,392m.

Mt. Rainier forms part of the notorious five in the Ring of Fire or Cascade Volcanic Arc. It is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes and even appears on the Decade Volcano listing.It is also the most heavily glaciated peak in the region with the ability to produce massive lahars that may pose a grave danger to the southern section of Seattle.

Mt. Rainier summit is home to 26 major glaciers and two craters about 300 m in diameter. The craters are free of snow and ice due to the geothermal heat generated below. A small crater lake occupies the west crater to the south.

NW side of Mt Rainier
NW side of Mt Rainier Photo byPeter Stevens

Geology and eruption

The summit of Mt. Rainier is quite unique when compared to other mountains. It has 3 separate summits; Columbia Crest is the highest, the second highest at 4315m is Point Success and Liberty Cap at 4,301m is the smallest.

Mt. Rainier is heavily eroded and it may have stood at an even higher elevation before the major debris avalanche that occurred 5,000 years ago.

The mountain is recorded to have last erupted between 1820 and 1854. Although there have been reports that eruptive activity had continued up to 1894.

Mt. Rainier is now dormant but very much alive. Considering it is almost twice the size of Mount St. Helens, if Mt. Rainier was to have an explosive eruption, the damage would be much greater when compared to the former. Typically, about 5 earthquakes are recorded near the summit monthly.

Mt. Rainier Climate

Mt. Rainier experiences a warm and temperate climate which is majorly influenced by its elevation, latitude and the Pacific Ocean.

It is generally cool but mostly rainy even in July and August when it is the warmest and sunniest.

August is the hottest month with an average temperature of 19°C.

The average annual precipitation is 703mm with November being the wettest month with an average of 119.3mm

Snow remains at an elevation of between 5,000ft and 8,000ft till mid-July.

The average annual temperature is 13.0 °C. December is the coldest month with an average of 5 °C

April is the windiest month with an average speed of 10 km/hour.

Climbing Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainieraspirants should be mentally and physically prepared to face a number of challenges which include but are not limited to; bad weather (frigid temperatures, high winds, lightning, blizzards), altitude sickness on higher altitudes due to low atmospheric pressure, crevasse falls, ice/rock falls and avalanches.

You are advised to be well informed on current weather and mountain conditions.

At least two deaths occur annually on Mt. Rainier due to severe weather, rock and ice falls and avalanches. The worst recorded mountaineering accident was in 1981 which claimed 11 lives in an icefall.

The mountain is a difficult climb with a success rate of about 50%. You must have solid mountaineering, crevasse, glacier travel, route finding and winter camping skills. Additionally, you should have knowledge of techniques on the use of crampons, the use of an ice ax, rope travel and hazard recognition. If you are inexperienced in the above, you can learn from a qualified instructor in any of the nearby mountaineering schools.

Ensure you have the proper mountaineering equipment and clothing.

It will take you about 2-3 days to climb the mountain. If you use the DC route, getting to Camp Muir will take about 5 hours of leisure walking, then using the Disappointment Cleaver Route from Camp Muir, another 6-8 hour depending on your fitness level and weather conditions.

When is the best time to climb Mt. Rainier?

The climbing season begins in April and runs through to September. When it comes to Rainier weather is the key determining factor to success, so many trips come to a halt mostly due to bad weather than any other contributing factor. Weather becomes more stable in the first week of July.

The trick is to find a balance when the weather is stable and mountain conditions are good.

Any permits, passes or reservations needed?

You will require a number of permits as listed below.

  • Rainier Annual Pass:$55
  • Rainier Single Vehicle Fee: $30
  • Per Person Fee either on foot or using a bicycle: $15
  • Motorcycle Fee: $25
  • Campground Permit: $20 per person per night
  • Campground fee for groups between 25 and 40: $60

Climbing permits can be obtained from:

  • Carbon River Ranger Station
  • Paradise Climbing Information Centre
  • Jackson Visitor Centre
  • Longmire Wilderness Information Centre
  • White River Wilderness Information Centre

Accommodation on Mt. Rainier

Camping on Mt. Rainier

You can camp in the backcountry for a maximum number of 14 days. The allowed number of a party size is 12 people. A team with more than 5 individuals is considered a group. The standard routes have two main high camps; on the east side-camp Schurman (at 9,440ft) and on the south side, Camp Muir.

Camp Muir’s facilities include a solar toilet and a Ranger Station. It can accommodate about 25 people and the camping approach is on a first come, first served. It is located at an elevation of 10,080ft. Rainier Mountaineering Inc. has a hut on Camp Muir and it can only be used by those climbing with them. Alternatively, you can tent camp on the glacier.

Camping at the Ohanapecosh campgrounds at Mt. Rainier
Camping at the Ohanapecosh campgrounds at Mt. Rainier Photo byMichael Hanscom

Other campgrounds that offer group sites are Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh.

Mountain climbing routes

Mt. Rainier offers a variety of options when it comes to climbing routes. Your choice will depend on your ability and experience.

If you are a beginner I recommend using Disappointment Cleaver, Emmons Glacier or the Ingraham Glacier Direct. These are the most popular routes and it may be quite tricky to secure a camping permit during the climbing season. I suggest considering getting your permit earlier enough.

The Kautz Glacier and Fuhurer Finger routes are a bit less crowded but slightly more challenging and technical.

The Tahoma Glacier offers the best wilderness experience, so why not give it a shot if you’re up to it?

The Liberty Ridge, after being included in the 50 Classic Climbs of North America has become a magnet for experienced alpinists who want to step up their game.

For a more challenging and steeper climb experience, I recommend the Curtis Ridge, Mowich Face, and the Ptarmigan Ridge. These should only be attempted by true aficionados!

Ingraham Glacier-Disappointment Cleaver Route

This route is the most popular with about 75% of summit attempts. It is also among the most guided route in the whole of North America and has a well-worn trail during summer which comes at the expense of lots of human traffic, especially over the weekends.

Additionally, it has an elevation gain of approximately 9,000ft and about 13-15km long. It will take you on average 1-3 days to climb. Typical hazards that you may encounter are crevasse falls, navigation errors and steep icy slopes. The summit success rate averages 51%.

From Paradise, use the Skyline trail to Camp Muir. Head straight to Cathedral Ridge across the Cowlitz Glacier, you will find three notches, take the center notch and climb scree to the Ingraham Glacier. Once you cross it, you will reach Disappointment Cleaver, from where you will get to a snowfield. Proceed to the summit and descend via the same route.

Emmons-Winthrop Route

The best climbing season for this route starts in May and runs through August when snow on the surface has melted enough to expose crevasses. This route will require you to be revamped on crampon use, crevasse rescue, route finding, and self-arrest techniques.

It rises to an elevation gain of 3140m and is about 15-16km long. The average time it will take to climb is 2-3 days and has a summit success rate of 54.2%.

Starting from the White River Ranger Station, proceed for about 3.1 miles and consider camping at Glacier Basin. Continue past the crevasses and possibly camp again at Camp Curtis. Descend slightly onto Emmons Glacier and proceed upwards to Camp Schurman. From here, head upwards along a ramp called Corridor. The climb will steepen towards bergschrund after which the summit awaits. Descend via the same route.

Kautz Glacier

This route is considered the third most popular after Disappointment Cleaver and Emmons-Winthrop. It is quite a long approach and climbers need to be proficient in glacier travel and ice climbing. During weekdays you can be all by yourself but you may encounter a few parties during weekends.

It has an elevation gain of approximately 2900m and is about 17-19km long. It may take you 1-3 days to climb and has a summit success rate of 52%.

Begin at Paradise and head a mile to Glacier Vista then descend to Nisqually Glacier. Once you cross it, you will come to a section of snowfields where you can camp. Proceed past chutes and notches till you get to the summit.

Liberty Ridge

This ridge with an elevation gain of approximately 3500m is considered one of the most dangerous and difficult routes up Mt. Rainier. It is about 16-19km long and takes about 3-4 days to climb. Its average summit success rate is 53%.

Liberty Ridge
Liberty Ridge photo by Laurel F

Approach it from White River campgrounds onto the Carbon Glacier. Climb past the ridge, snow slopes and rocks till you get to Thumb Rock. Proceed and go round a cliff, stay on the ridge till you reach Black Pyramid onto Willis Wall. Climb past several pitches onto Liberty Cap Glacier, surpass the bergschrund and after a slight slope angle decrease, you will reach the summit.

You can choose to descend via the same route or use Emmons-Winthrop to Camp Schurman.

Emergency/Information Center

  • In case of an emergency call 911
  • For Emergency Physicians: 253-697-4200
  • Rainier National Park (Headquarters): 360-569-2211/2177
  • National Park (for Park information): 360-569-6575
  • For Lost and Found: 360-569-6608
  • Rainier City Hall: 301-985-6585
  • Police Department (Emergencies): 301-985-6565 

Flora on Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier is home to over 100 exotic plant species, 890 vascular and 260 non-vascular plant species. Vegetation varies remarkably depending on climate and elevation creating diverse habitats that support different plant species.

Whitebark Pine trees
Whitebark Pine trees Photo by David Fulmer

The Forest zone, found in the lower elevations is dominated by the douglas fir, Pacific silver fir, western red-cedar, western hemlock, whitebark pine, mountain hemlock, Alaska yellow cedar, subalpine fir and Englemann spruce.

The Subalpine zone is a mixture of tree clumps and meadows. The huckleberry shrub is quite dominant here.

The Subalpine Meadows has a variety of plant communities like that entail blueberries, paintbrush, American bistort, avalanche lily, lupine, mountain daisy, hawkweed, alpine buckwheat, alpine aster, black sedge, alpine willow-herb, saxifrage, partridge foot, cascade aster, and bunchgrass.

The Alpine zone is mostly covered in ice and snow and little vegetation cover is evident. The pink mountain heather, penstemons, asters, and sedges exist in little clusters.

Fauna on Mt. Rainier

There are 182 bird species, half of which are migrants from southern and central America. Some of these include the Northern spotted owl, marbled murrelets, peregrine falcons, little willow flycatcher, bald eagles, Northern Goshawk and the harlequin duck.

Mt. Rainier has the largest system of the glacier that creates many streams and rivers which are home to several fish species. The species include the rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, eastern brook trout, pink salmon, sockeye, sculpins, mountain whitefish, coho salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, chinook salmon and bull trout.

Amphibians include larch mountain salamander, Pacific giant salamander,ensatina, Western toad, red-legged frog, cascade frog, rough-skinned newt and long-toed salamander.

Reptiles include the rubber boa, common garter snake, wandering garter snake, Northern alligator lizard, and Northwestern garter snake.

Mt. Rainier is also home to over 65 mammal species that include bats, carnivores (red fox, coyote, mountain lion, raccoon, skunks, bobcat, weasels), hoofed animals(elk, mountain goat, deer), insects, rodents(squirrels, mice, beaver, porcupine, marmots, chipmunks), rabbits and hares.

Hiking with Kids

There are many hiking trails on Mt. Rainier with scenic views that children can enjoy.

Things to do

  1. Silver Falls at Ohanapecosh

If you love waterfalls, the Silver Falls will also be a breath of fresh air to you too. It is also one of the best falls in Mt. Rainier National Park too. Get the forest experience with its uplifting water roar as it meanders through the tall trees. To get there, just follow the Silver Falls loop trail which is about 3 miles from the Ohanapecosh campgrounds.

Silver falls Ohanapecosh
Silver falls Ohanapecosh Photo by David Fulmer

  1. Wildflower walk

Take a nature trail at Paradise and walk the famous wildflower meadows.  In the summer months of July through to August, they come alive with pomp and color. Go marvel at this jaw-dropping beauty of purple lupine, red paintbrush, pink penstemon and yellow cinquefoils.

  1. Sunrise Visitor Center

The center offers great history about volcanic forces that formed Mt. Rainier, the glaciers that dominate it, the wildlife and plant life that beautify it showcased by videos, artifacts, models, photos, and words. So go get some enlightening, it won’t hurt!

  1. Brunch at paradise

Imagine a Sunday brunch in a rustic and historic lodge that is located halfway up a mountain! Indescribable, right? Well, visit the Paradise Inn Dining Room which offers unrivaled cuisine that includes smoked salmon, seasonal fresh fruits, desserts and other brunch favorites. Add to these crab mac and cheese – yummy!

The Inn is open from June through to September on Sundays from 11: 30 am to 2 pm.

  1. Hike the Sourdough Ridge

Welcome to alpine splendor! This trail is quite family friendly for anyone looking to lazily explore the Sunrise area. It has amazing mountain views and its famous breathtaking sunrise. Go and have your heart stolen-literally!

  1. The Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad

All aboard!

If you are a train fanatic, this is your treat. It is historical and scenic.  You can also board the train at the Elbe and enjoy a picturesque ride, about 18 miles, on a vintage locomotive too. Apart from the great views of the mountain, the train comes loaded with a snack bar, enough bathrooms, plenty of space for children to freely walk and play around and a cool conductor who will be narrating to you a brief history of the area. And! Wait for it…prepare to catch your breath as the train crosses the Nisqually River!

  1. Breakfast at the Copper Creek Inn

This inn is one of the amazing rural restaurants in the state. Locate just at the mouth of Nisqually, breakfast here is a must especially if you plan to hike all day long. It is known to whip up the best pancakes and blackberry pies. In addition, it is famous for its home-roasted coffee.

  1. Mountain Goat Coffee

Cops are known to love doughnuts while park rangers are into muffins. This joint offers the best coffee. Stop by for a cup of home-brewed coffee and mouthwatering baked goods. And while at it, make a khaki-clad guy your friend.

Climbing Denali: Amazing Facts to Remember

Mount McKinley (now Denali)

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Mt. Denali

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Mt. Denali 63.069200, -151.007000

Climbing Denali: Amazing Facts to Remember

Denali, formerly known as Mt. McKinley is North America’s highest peak standing at an elevation of 6,190 above sea level. It forms the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserves, in south-central Alaska. After Mount Everest and Aconcagua, Denali makes the third highest peak of the Seven Summits.

Denali was formed when the Pacific Plate slid beneath the Tectonic Plate resulting into a granitic pluton.

Denali National Park
Denali National Park

It has two main summits; the South Summit which is the highest and the North Summit which has a height of 5,934m. The mountain is home to five glaciers that flow off its slopes; the Traleika Glacier, the Peters Glacier, the Ruth Glacier, the Muldrow Glacier and the Kahiltna Glacier.

Denali Climate

The winter climate dominates this region and is classified as the Continental Subarctic Climate by The Koppen Climate Classification.

The lowest temperature ever recorded at -54.4°C was in January while the highest recorded was in June at 33.3°C

July is the month with the most precipitation with an average of 2.9” while February has the least precipitation with an average of 0.3”. The average annual precipitation is 13.5”.

Denali experiences snow cover of an average of 54.3”. December has the most snow with an average of 10.7”.

Climbing Denali

You will need to be in great physical condition for you to attempt the Denali summit. Proficiency in basic mountaineering skills that include, rope travel, crevasse rescue, cramponing, camping skills and self-arrest is highly recommended. The Denali climb is a technical, demanding and extremely challenging expedition so I would advise you to undertake this venture under the advice and preparation of a guide service. To start you off, here are two guiding service companies for your perusal.

  1. Alpine Ascents Institute

Website: info@alpineinstitute.com

Phone number: (360) 671-1505

  1. Mountain Madness

Website: www.mountainmadness.com

Phone number: 1-800-328-5925

These companies have certain prerequisites that should be met and you will be screened with regards to the aforementioned mountaineering skills as well as be trained in one of the climbing schools.

The guiding services will provide logistical support, food, gear and they will make most decisions concerning group dynamics, weather, and campsites.

A minimum of 6 months commitment to physical training prior to the climb is advised. You can also work on your cardiovascular, strength and endurance too.

Appropriate technical climbing gear and clothing should be part of your itinerary. Layered clothing, mountaineering boots, helmet, ice-axe, crampons, gloves, ropes, shovels, sleds, trekking poles, sleeping bags, climbing harness, stove etc. should be on your top list. 

Costs

Depending on what is being offered by the guiding service the cost is between $5,000 and $7,000 on the West Buttress Route. The ratio is normally 9clients: 3 guides.

West Rib Route will cost $8,000. The ratio is4 clients: 2 guides

The Cassin Ridge will cost between $18,000 and $26,000.

How long does it take to climb Denali?

It will take you about 2-3 weeks to get on top of the mountain and back to base camp. However, there are times when the weather is terrible and you will be tent-bound for a couple of extra days.

When is the best time to climb Denali?

The popular climbing season is from mid-May to end of June although the normal period begins in April to mid-July. It is said to be windy in May and July tends to be stormy.

Any permits, passes or reservations needed?

Any person attempting the climb should first register with Talkeena Ranger Station 60 days prior to the climbing date. A fee of $350 for Mountaineering Special Use will be charged. Climbers under the age of 24 years have a reduced charge of $250.

The Denali National Park charges $10 per person as the entrance fee.

Accommodation on Denali

Camping on Denali

The Denali Park offers several campgrounds with all the necessary amenities. These include Riley Creek, Savage River, Wonder Lake, Teklanika River and Sanctuary River. In case the campgrounds are full, don’t fret, there are plenty of RV parks with complete facilities at the entrance of Denali Park.

Denali from Camp on the Kahiltna Glacier
Denali from Camp on the Kahiltna Glacier Photo by Mark Horrell

If you intend to climb the mountain, you will carry all sleeping gear as you will camp on various spots on the glaciers. At times you may be required to build a new camp which will take several laborious hours to accomplish. You will also have to dig, shovel and cut out snow blocks too. However, since you will be in teams and work in shifts it will be doable.

Mountain climbing routes

There are four main route options to summiting Denali.

  1. The West Buttress Route

This is the most popular route for many climbers as it is considered the least technical however, this does not negate the fact that is an exceptional mountaineering challenge. It is also exposed to the Denali weather just as the other three routes; it has crevasses and steep slope too. Climbers should be well prepared to tackle these challenges.

The base camp is located at 7,200ft while the others are progressively located at 7,800ft; 9,500ft; 11,000ft; 14,200ft; and 17,200ft. This route has a vertical gain of 13,500 ft. The route is moderately flat between base camp and 11,000ft though crevasses are the major threats.

This expedition lasts for about 17days but I recommend carrying 3 weeks’ worth of food supply.

  1. The West Rib

This route is mostly known for its sustained steepness than its technical challenges. It mostly attracts aficionados who have already conquered the summit via the West Buttress. You must step up on your skill and experience though.

  1. Cassin Ridge

This route is only attempted by the most experienced climbers because it ascends the prominent ridge that is demanding, steep with fewer escape routes that are far apart.

  1. Muldrow Glacier

 Muldrow Glacier
Muldrow Glacier Photo by Chelsea Leven

It’s the first ascent route before the West Buttress was pioneered by Bradford Washburn. It takes a longer approach from Wonder Lake which automatically translates to an extra 7 days when compared to the West Buttress route. It is similar to the West Buttress in difficulty but it experiences minimal traffic.

 

Emergency/Information Center

  • In case of an emergency call 911
  • Information on Rescue, contact Denali Rescue Volunteers; Website: denalirescue.com Email: denalivolunteers@gmail.com
  • For mountaineering questions-Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station: 907-733-2231
  • Park information: 907-683-9532
  • Switchboard: 907-683-2294

Flora and Fauna on Denali

Wormwood flora Denali
Wormwood flora Denali Photo by Travis

Grizzly Bear Denali
Grizzly Bear Denali Photo by Bob Thomas

Denali hosts over 1500 plant species. In the lowland, you will also find dwarf birch, alder, blueberries, and willow too. The river corridors are dominated by aspen, cranberry, paper birch. Other species include the wormwood, white spruce, lichens, mosses, ferns, grasses, and wildflowers.

Wildlife such as the caribou, reindeer, grizzly bears, squirrels, marmots, wolves, mice, wood frog and several bird species dot Denali.

 

 

Hiking with Kids

Jordan Romero summited Denali when he was 11 years old. So any youngling with a profound passion for conquering summits can make the attempt under strict guidance and observation.

Things to do

  • Biking/ Cycling

Get some heart rate up as you get to see Denali National Park while cycling. Just make sure you have a helmet. You can get your bike and helmet from the businesses outside the park that hire them out.

  • Go flightseeing

There’s nothing as beautiful as watching Denali National Park and Preserve from atop a window of a small aircraft. The scenery is also simply breathtaking with meandering glaciers and rugged peaks too. Watching climbers attempting also the summit will move your heart too and you can get these services from the listed flightseeing companies.

This river wounds beautifully along silver white rocks and lush green vegetation. It offers a campground that is quite popular and scenic.

  • Visit the Denali kennels

Sled dogs, also known as canine rangers-I love this last name! Sounds fierce and territorial, yes?

These dogs and the rangers are usually roaming the park and rarely in the kennels. So if you want to visit the kennels call to confirm the timings prior to your visit. Remember that Denali is the only park that has working sled dogs’ kennels. So go hang out with them and even attend a mushing demonstration led by a ranger. Epic!

  • Bird Watching

During summer, over 160 bird species can be spotted in Denali. So with armed with an adventurous spirit and binoculars, you are in for a treat. Be on the lookout for the Alaska state bird, northern wheatears, and its fellow resident species-the willow ptarmigan. Depending on the season and how lucky you are, you can also come across the arctic tern, a migrant from distant lands.

  • Capture shots of Denali and the Alaska ranges

Denali offers amazing opportunities for photography enthusiasts whether beginners or experienced.

The mountain stands out from the central ranges so magnificently. It can be seen from as far as Fairbanks and Anchorage on clear days. You can also view it from various angles along the Park road.

  • Wildlife viewing

Wildlife can be spotted anywhere in the park and commonly viewed when taking a bus ride.

A few tips:

The Wonder Lake zone has many bogs and other smaller ponds/water bodies near the road. This makes it also a great spot to catch a glimpse of the water-loving and bird species too.

Take multiple bus trips to maximize your chances of viewing great wildlife.

Remember to keep safe despite the engulfing thrill and excitement of seeing wild animals. Yes, we have a soft spot for them.

What you Need to Know Before Summiting the Notorious Mount St. Helens

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Mt. St. Helens

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Mt. St. Helens 46.191400, -122.195600

What You Need to Know Before Summiting the Notorious Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens is located in Skamania County, southwest of Washington. It lies in the Cascade Range and is among the top 5 notorious volcanoes among the Ring of Fire (the Cascade Volcanic Arc). It is approximately 80km northeast of Portland in Oregon.

Mount St. Helens is an active stratovolcano consisting of lava combined with pumice, ash and other rock deposits. It is only 40,000 years old. Streams that flow from this mountain enter into three rivers namely the Toutle River, the Kalama River and the Lewis River.

Geology and eruption

Mount St. Helens is famous for its explosive eruption that occurred in 1980 which was recorded as the most economically destructive and fatal volcanic incident in the history of the United States of America. 57 people lost their lives, 250 homes and 47 bridges were destroyed. Additionally, 24km of railways and 298km of the road were affected and destroyed.

An earthquake that measured 5.1 on the Richter Scale triggered a massive avalanche of debris causing the eruption. The blast emitted at a high-velocity super-heated gas, ash, and rock which had a temperature of about 350 °C moving at a speed of almost 500km per hour. Mudflows and pyroclastic flow followed soon afterward. There was complete darkness in Spokane which is located about 400km from the volcano.

Mount St. Helens Volcanic eruption
Mount St. Helens Volcanic eruption

The northern face of the mountain collapsed and mixed with snow and water to form lahars that destroyed bridges and vegetation. It has continually experienced nearly 130 small tremors and a frequency of about 40 localized earthquakes in a week. The sleeping giant is predicted to awake at some point but not in the near future.

The mountain summit was reduced to an elevation of 2,549m from 2,950m. What was left as an aftermath was a horseshoe-shaped crater of about 1.6km wide? The small successive eruptions have resulted in the formation of magma dome on the southern side.

Mount St. Helens Climate

Mount St. Helens experiences a warm and temperate type of climate. The winter has more rainfall than in the summer. The average annual precipitation is 1146mm.

The average temperature in a year is 11.4 °C.

Climbing Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helen has become quite popular since its last eruption and many mountaineering enthusiasts have it on the top of their bucket list. It attracts beginners and experienced climbers from all over the world.

It is mainly a non-technical climb but quite strenuous like any other existing mountain. Climbers are advised to be in peak physical condition because of the rugged and steep terrain. It is highly prohibited to climb into the crater. The endpoint should be at the rim of the crater. Keep away from the snow cornice. Snow cornices may develop during winter and last till summer, so some areas may be unstable at the crater rim all year round.

Climbing the mountain may not be particularly dangerous though accidents have occurred in the past. Ensure that your speed is controlled. Be prepared for extreme weather changes. Confirm weather conditions prior to your attempt.

Ensure you have the right gear and equipment. Crampons, an ice-ax, mountaineering boots, synthetic clothing, First Aid Kit, water, food, sunscreen, sunglasses are a must.

You can complete a round-trip within 7-12hours

Best time to climb

It is possible to summit Mount St. Helens all year round but the best time would be towards the end of spring through to early fall. The season begins at May 16 and ends in October 31.

Any permits, passes or reservations needed?

If you plan to climb between November 1 and March 31, no permits are required for this period. You are however advised to register at Climbers Bivouac or Marble Mountain Sno-Park. Climbing Passes are available at zero cost by self-registration.

If you chose to climb between April 1 and October 31, you are required to have a permit. The permits are purchased through an online vendor administered by Mount St. Helens Institute. The Permit fee is $22 per individual. These fees are used for conservation and youth education programs. You will also need to self-register at Climbers Bivouac.

From April 1 to May 14, the permits are limited to 500 per day while from May 15 to October 31 they are limited to 100 per day.

Parking Permits are required at Climbers Bivouac. A National Forest Recreation Pass will cost you $5 for a day and $30 for the annual pass.

 

Accommodation on Mount St. Helens

Camping on Mount St. Helens

Campsites vary from site to site regarding visitation fees and seasonal restrictions.

Mount St. Helens offers quite a wide variety of campgrounds and RV sites for your selection. These include the Cougar RV Park and Campground, Lone Fir Resort, Eco Park, Lower Fall Campground, Iron Creek Campground, Pacificorps Campgrounds, Kid Valley Campgrounds among others.

Mountain climbing routes

  • The Monitor Ridge Route

This is the most popular route among climbers and quite crowded during summer actually. Its trailhead is named Climbers Bivouac. It has an elevation gain of 4600ft covering a total distance of about 4.5 miles to the summit crater rim.

You will hike through a forest trail for the 2.1 miles. At the LowestTrail, you can use the toilet on your right-hand side. Follow a rocky ridge marked by wooden posts till the last post. Proceed with that ridge and soon enough you will be at the summit. If you are climbing during winter, trekking poles and an ice-axe will definitely come in handy.

  • The Worm Flows/Swift Glacier

It is the single most direct route to the crater rim and mostly used during winter and spring. Mount St. Helens has great summit view and experienced hikers can enjoy a non-technical climb and begin at Marble Mountain Sno-Park and cross to Swift Creek. At about 2 miles in, you will come across the breathtaking Chocolate Falls that are along Swift Creek that will open up to a barren landscape full of mudflows and rock towards the crater rim. Head west to find the true summit.

  • Hummocks Trail

This trail has an elevation gain of 100 ft and the round-trip distance is about 2.3 miles. The climbing season is from late June through to November.

If you want to get an in-depth appreciation of the effects that came about with the eruption of this mountain, this is the best trail to use. You will also note how nature fights back as it regains its vitality after the aftermath.

It is a relatively flat trail and is considered easy even for young children. You will get to spot a few animals if you are lucky. Remember to stay on the trail so as not to tamper with the habitat.

  • Harry’s Ridge

The best climbing season for this route is from late June through to November. It has an elevation gain of approximately 200ft and is about 8miles long.

Harry's Ridge Trail at Mt. St. Helens NM in WA
Harry’s Ridge Trail at Mt. St. Helens NM in WA Photo by Mt. St. Helens

Starting from the Johnson Ridge Observatory, you will enjoy the sight of wildflowers, especially in mid-summer. At the end of Harry’s Ridge, you will be treated to the most direct and perfect view of the crater mouth and the Lowest Falls. Also, Mount Adams and Spirit Lake will be amazingly visible. On a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of Mt. Hood while on this trail.

From Johnson Ridge Visitors Centre, follow a paved path downhill for about a mile and a half till you get to the parking lot. Follow the trail till you get to Devils’ Elbow and after 3.5miles you will get to a junction. Harry’s ridge will be on your right. Proceed upwards until you arrive at the summit.

 

  • Lakes Trail

This trail has an elevation gain of 500ft and is about 8miles long. Best season to climb is from late June to November.

The trail usually stays about 300ft above a large, beautiful lake called Coldwater Lake and this has attracted many hikers. The trail starts from the boat launch offering a great view of wildlife and wildflowers. Go uphill to Coldwater Ridge Visitor Centre. Another 2 miles of hiking will bring you the South Coldwater trail to the right. To the left the trail continues to Mt. Margaret Backcountry.

  • Lava Canyon

It is about 5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1600ft. The best time to climb is from May through to November.

Lava Canyon Near Mount St. Helens
Lava Canyon Photo by dmytrok

It is quite a thrilling experience using this trail. You will get across via a suspension bridge after starting from a paved trail and get into the Lava Canyon Gorge. If you are afraid of heights, this may not be your thing. The trail will later intersect Ship Trail which is the return route. The canyon will begin to broaden as it leads to Smith Creek Valley.

  • Goat Mountain

This trail has an elevation gain of approximately 1600ft and the roundtrip distance is about 6 miles. The best time to climb is from late June through to November.

The trail offers distant views Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, Mount St. Helens and the surrounding areas from the summit. Climb steeply upwards along a ridge and the traverse to the southern flank for the last mile.

Emergency/Information Center

  • In case of an emergency call 911
  • Mount St. Helens National Monument: 360-247-3900
  • Mount St. Helens Climbing Hotline:360-449-7861
  • Northwest Avalanche Forecast: 503-808-2400

 

Flora and Fauna on Mount St. Helens

36 years after the eruption of Mount St. Helens, vegetation has tried to claim its roots back. There is evidence of pre-forest conditions and young patches of the deciduous forest can be seen.

You can also see, dense thickets of shrubs, colorful flowers in their complexities, paintbrush, lupin and scattered conifers are evidenced too.

Willow Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher Photo by Steve Thompson

The black-tailed deer, the mountain goat, cougar, the American Black Bear and the majestic elk were the famous five animals that existed before the eruption. They all perished as they could not outrun the pyroclastic flows and survive the poisonous sulfur dioxide gas that was emitted with the ash. But all the five species are now back in the zone.

Other animals present include the Western frog, the American beaver, bird species like the yellow warbler and the willow flycatcher.

 

Hiking with Kids

Children above the age of 10 years can climb the mountain to the summit. Keen observation, proper gear and guidance are essential when hiking with kids.

 

Things to do

  • Ape Cave

It is the longest lava tube formed 2000 years ago by lava that flowed across a deep watercourse. You can walk on either the Lower Ape Cave Trail which is 0.8 miles or the Upper Ape Cave Trail which is 1.5 miles and you may scramble over rock piles and narrow passages.

Additionally, you can carry your own torch/headlamp or hire a lantern for $5 at the Apes’ Headquarters.

  • Check out the Coldwater Lake

It is located 43 miles east of Castle Rock and was created after the eruption in 1980. It formed when water collected behind a dam was brought down during the explosive eruption. It’s a fascinating sight indeed.

Coldwater Lake Trail at Mt. St. Helens
Coldwater Lake Trail at Mt. St. Helens Photo by Mt. St. Helens

  • The Fire Mountain Grill

This American grill menu is located at a strategic spot offering great views. The mouthwatering fiery tasting burgers and steaks will have you scrambling for more!

  • The Cougar Grill

Nothing beats this grill when it comes to their signature burgers and tacos. Sipping down a cold beer after such a treatment will leave you with quite a heavy impression that you will swear to be right back!

  • Silver Lake Visitor Centre

It is in the Mount St. Helens region situated a few miles east of Castle Rock. It also offers the best background of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Movement showcasing classic films and a mock-up volcano exhibit too.  Additionally, you even have an opportunity to duck as you learn about the inner workings of a mountain.

  • Johnston Ridge Observatory

This observatory is situated strategically overlooking the mouth of Mount St. Helens crater at the end of Hwy 504. It  also offers the most stunning views of this crater too.

The center has exhibits that showcase the geological events that climaxed with the eruption of the mountain as well as the monitoring and volcano forecasting advancements.

What You Didn’t Know About Climbing Mauna Kea

Mount Mauna Kea

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Mt. Mauna Kea

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Mt. Mauna Kea 19.820600, -155.468100

What You Didn’t Know About Climbing Mauna Kea

The Big Island of Hawaii is home to the world’s tallest mountain-Mauna Kea. Yes, you heard me right!

What about Mt. Everest? You wonder.

Come; roam with me for a minute. Allow me to enlighten you.

Generally, the height of a mountain is measured from the sea level. Therefore, Mt. Everest standing at 8,848m takes home the gold medal. It is king!

Mauna Kea is only 4,207m above sea level but when measured from the ocean floor it beats Mt. Everest by a whopping 1,355m! How astonishing!

Mauna Kea measured from the base to the peak has a height of 10203m, making it the highest island mountain in the world. It is a dormant volcano located 300km from Honolulu which lies in Oahu Island, Hawaii County, United States.

Due to its stable airflow and high elevation, this mountain hosts the largest astronomical observatory in the world. Currently, research teams operate 13 large telescopes near Mauna Kea’s summit. These include the infrared telescope, the sub millimeter and the optical telescopes which are the world’s largest. The astronomers operating these telescopes come from 11 different countries. However, the construction of such a facility has caused an uproar because native Hawaiians consider it a sacred mountain. In fact, no one was allowed to access the summit apart from chiefs and high priests in the ancient days.

 

Geology and Eruption

Mauna Kea has much-rugged appearance when compared to other volcanoes near it. Instead of a single peak, its surface is undefined with a series of black and red volcanic cinder cones. Despite its location in tropical, a temperature drop of even one degree would result in the formation of snow at its peak. It’s the only volcano in Hawaii with distinct glacial evidence.

Lake Waiau, Mauna Kea
Lake Waiau, Mauna Kea, Hawaii Photo By Karl Magnacca

It is a dormant volcano created when the Pacific Tectonic Plate overlapped the Hawaiian Hotspot in the Earth’s mantle. Mauna Kea hosts Lake Wai’au which is the single alpine lake in Hawaii. It is quite small and shallow with a depth of about 3m. It is probably as a result of melting permafrost but you can’t ignore the possibility of it being spring fed. You wouldn’t think of disturbing the cute lake because Hawaiians used to apparently dip their babies’ umbilical cords with the belief that they will receive strength and prosperity from the mountain’s goddess. Absurd? I’ll let you be the judge.

Mauna Kea last erupted about 4000 years ago. However, geologically speaking, it is likely to erupt again despite its dormant state. Although not in the near future, its eruption would result in a massive damage to infrastructure. The telescopes on the summit would detect any such activity and will ensure timely warning for evacuation hence life loss may be minimal.

 

Mauna Kea Climate

Mauna Kea’s summit experiences an Alpine Climate. It more or else “manufactures its own weather”.  It will not be surprising to find thick fog, snow, hail and strong winds during the months of summer.

The summit skies are normally dry and devoid of atmospheric pollutants. This is because of an inversion layer which sits beneath the summit that separates the upper atmosphere from the moist air at the lower altitudes.

The general climate surrounding Mauna Kea is classified as the Marine West Coast Climate. The winter tends to have mild temperatures while the summer has moderate temperatures. The average annual temperature is 13.9°C. July is the warmest month with an average temperature of 15.6°C. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 11.7°C.

28.9°C was the highest recorded temperature in August, while the lowest (-4.4°C)   was recorded in January.

Mauna Kea has an annual precipitation averaging 14.5”. January experiences the most precipitation-2.0″, while June experiences the lowest amount of precipitation-0.5″

Mauna Kea commands the winds because of its size and positioning. These winds have attained hurricane velocity several times, and anyone flying through Hawaii can attest to violent turbulence.

On higher altitudes, snow cover is usually present in the months of December through to February.

 

Climbing Mauna Kea

So you want to tackle the world’s tallest climb?

The high elevation that easily causes Altitude Sickness, the steep gradient and extreme weather should be your greatest challenge and/or concern. This means it is no easy task. Mauna Kea is the only place you can cover 14,000 feet from sea level within a period of 2hours while driving. So Altitude Sickness can be a real threat.

The road that was constructed in 1984 makes the summit accessible to a large number of people. The Mauna Kea Access Road is tarmacked up to the Onizuka Visitor Centre. From here there is a partially paved road all the way nearing the summit just 100feet shy.

Onizuka memorial at Mauna Kea
Onizuka memorial at Mauna Kea photo by Vipahman

The good or bad news is that you can opt to take a hike or just drive to the summit. But where’s the fun in that, huh?

If you have chosen to take the hiking challenge option, here are a few tips for you!

Before the climb:

  • There is no form of transportation on the mountain. Don’t assume that you can always hitch a ride back to the Visitors Information Station (VIS). So be prepared in case you get tired or lost.
  • There is no water provided on the trail. Ensure that you keep yourself hydrated by carrying your own supply of water.
  • Confirm the weather conditions at the Mauna Kea Weather Center before you begin the trek. There are certain periods when the weather is not suitable.
  • Make sure you’re back at the VIS before sunset after you complete your summit. Darkness is real here.
  • Ensure you have appropriate clothing for both weather extremes. It can be extremely hot and you will need your sunhat, sunglasses, and sunscreen unless you want to get seriously scorched. Prepare for rain, wind or fog by having the appropriate mountaineering boots, long-sleeved shirt, a warm fleece, gloves and long pants.
  • Carry a compass to enable you to find the east road in case of severe weather.
  • A dust mask may come in handy in the early morning hours to reduce lung burn that is caused by the dry air.
  • Kindly register at the VIS before you hike. The forms are placed in a box next to the VIS entrance. Fill it out with all the details required and upon return, ensure you check in with the staff at VIS.
  • I would advise you to take a break of at least 45min at the Visitor Center before proceeding to the summit. Actually, it is mandatory. The effects of high altitude are not to be taken lightly. Interestingly, you will not be twiddling your thumbs drowning in boredom. The Centre normally has videos showcasing the geology, history, and culture of the monumental volcano. So you’ll barely notice the time wheezing past!
  • There is no food provided on the mountain, so carry with your belly or backpack.
  • Remember to use the restrooms provided at the Visitor Centre.

On the trail:

  • Make sure you stay on the trail. Don’t go cross-country!
  • Don’t disturb the landscape. Also no littering and no starting fires.
  • Ensure you dispose well of any garbage. Next, to HokukeaTelesscope on top of the mountain, you will be provided with porta-potties.

Can anyone climb Mauna Kea?

Unfortunately, not everyone is allowed or is fit to attempt to summit Mauna Kea.  Pregnant women, children below the age of 16 years, individuals with extreme overweight conditions, people with health problems like high blood pressure, individuals with cardiac or pulmonary conditions are advised not to go past the Visitor Information Station which is situated at 9,200 ft.

 

How long does it take to climb Mauna Kea?

If you choose to hike, the trail is about 10km long, which means it will take you about 6-10 hours for the average round-trip considering its steep gradient.

When is the best time to climb Mauna Kea?

Summer time is the best period to attempt the summit. The weather is generally mild and friendly. Winter can get extremely windy and stormy so avoid the months of January and February.

Any permits, passes or reservations needed?

There are no permits or fees required to access Mauna Kea. The higher altitude zone is owned by the University of Hawaii and they use the approach of not-for-profit. However, a group of more than 10 people will need to acquire a Special Use Permit.

People who intend to film or take photographs for the purposes of TV production or for sale must acquire a permit from the State of Hawaii Film Office.

Military groups are also required to request permission and must adhere to specific rules.

A permit will also be required in the case of conducting a research. These can be obtained from the Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM).

Accommodation on Mauna Kea

Camping on Mauna Kea

Camping on the mountain is prohibited. But you can choose to camp at Mauna Kea State Recreation Area. It is located a few miles west of Summit Road, about 7 miles to be precise.

Mountain climbing routes

The hiking trail to Mauna Kea’s summit begins at the Onizuka Visitor Centre at 9,200feet. It is about 10km long with 1400m of altitude difference to cover. The summit trail is named Humu’ula Trail.

From here, you have two options to get to the summit; hiking on foot or using a rental car.

Getting to the summit by car

The Visitor Center is usually open every day of the year from 12pm-10pm and parking is always available.

From the Visitor Centre, you will find a track that is mostly pebble but regularly maintained. It is meant to be only used by 4X4 vehicles. This 4-wheel drive should be a low range to counter brake failure or overheating.

Drive straight ahead for about 10km, and then you will find a small car parking lot and a chemical toilet on the right. This marks the beginning of the trail to the summit which is not accessible by vehicle.

Take roughly 20-30 minutes here to acclimatize before you start the hike. You may feel a bit lightheaded once you get out of the car but take deep and slow breaths, the feeling will disappear in about 15min or so. Put on your sunglasses as the UV rays at this juncture are quite vicious.

Proceed for about 300metres and voilà! The summit! You’re on top of the world literally.

Getting to the summit by foot

From the visitor Centre, after taking about an hour to acclimatize, head towards the Humu’ula Trail. It begins with a gradual incline, you’ll most probably find it easy but you will start feeling the altitude change. The incline gets steeper as you progress and in case you start experiencing any symptoms of altitude sickness, I suggest you turn around and call it a day. Celebrate the accomplishment either way.

If you’re still in good physical condition and committed to the summit, continue straight on. You will encounter a few level sections in which your body will highly appreciate.

The summit trail is quite obvious plus there are sign posts along the road to guide you. It will get rocky as you proceed. At an altitude of about 11,000 feet, you can choose to rest and acclimatize as you are treated to a spectacular view of the second highest mountain in Hawaii-Mauna Loa. It will also be a perfect time to grab a snack, sip some water and capture some amazing shots!

At about 13,000 feet you will come to a small fork, turn left to maintain the summit trail. A few meters after that first fork, you will find another one. Take a right to proceed to the time. If you want to see Lake Wai’au, then make a left turn.

You will hike along the road until you reach the observatory structures. Catch your breath for a few minutes then pace yourself for the final 300meteres to the summit.

 

Emergency/Information Center

  • You will probably be alone all the way. If you get lost or altitude sickness gets the best of you, quickly find your way to the Mauna Kea Access Road and seek assistance.
  • In case of an emergency call 911
  • You can also call the Visitor Information Station: 934-4550
  • For winter conditions call: 935-6268

Flora and Fauna on Mauna Kea

At lower elevations, you will find native vegetation ofMamane trees and patches of grass scattered on bare soil. There are two types of native grasses; alpine hairgrass and Piliuka. and Native fern species include Kalamaoho, Iwa’iwa, and Ma’ohi’ohi too. Mint vines are also common here.

Towards the summit, the Hawaiian Strawberry, numerous species of lichens and mosses tend to dominate.

Considering Mauna Kea experiences alpine and subalpine conditions, very few species of animals can survive. You will find birds, insects, spiders, moths centipedes, bugs, beetles, and bats.

Amakihi split
Amakihi split Photo by Byron Chin

The native bird species include ‘Amakihi, ‘ Elepaio, ‘I’iwi, Palila and ‘Ua’u.

 

Hiking with Kids

Children below 16 years are not allowed to summit Mauna Kea. The farthest they can go is up to the Visitor Centre where they can learn a lot and get to participate in stargazing too.

 

Things to do

  • Skiing

Yes! You can go skiing on Mauna Kea. In the months of January and February, there is adequate snow cover for you to board or ski. However, there are no lifts or ski resorts.

I would recommend Ski Guides Hawaii. They provide equipment, transport to the mountain and after each run, they offer a ride back to the top.

You can reach them on (808) 885-4188

Website: www.skihawaii.com

  • Visit Lake Wai’au

Once at the summit, you cannot dare descend without having a glance at the highest alpine lake in the world. Lake Wai’au is blue-green in color and approximately 1.4km from the parking lot. Don’t disturb the lake or even worse, attempt to drink the water for reasons I had clearly stated above.

Once at the fork just turn left. It is not a long hike but it’s a hilly one for sure!

  • Enjoy the summit sunset

Mauna Kea’s summit is essentially above the clouds because it is so high. You will enjoy unobstructed views of Mauna Loa and Maui’s summit-Haleakala. Because of its closeness to the equator, sunsets don’t last long. Ensure you get information on sunset times prior to the hike to guarantee this breathtaking phenomenon of watching a sunset from the world’s topmost spot!

  • Watch the Stars

The Visitor Centre offers a Star Gazing Program between the staff, enthusiasts and the public. It is also open to everyone and is available from 6pm-10pm every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

Star gazing program
Star gazing program photo by Casey Bisson

Come and enjoy the constellations, nearby galaxies and other celestial bodies. You will be stunned.

Get a feel of the Subaru Telescope

It is one of the largest observatory structures from Japan. The tours are normally guided and available in Japanese and English. I suggest you register early online because it fills up so fast. Although the tour doesn’t include looking through the large optical mirror, the fascinating interior is worth every minute of your time.

What You Need to Know Before Climbing Mt. Hood

Mountain Hood

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Mt. Hood

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Mt. Hood 45.373600, -121.696000

What You Need to Know Before Climbing Mt. Hood

Oregon’s highest summit, Mt. Hood, at 3426m, is one to behold.  It is an ice cone beautifully rising above lush green vegetation. A mountain-lake nearby, by the name Mirror Lake, gives a perfect reflection of Mt. Hood.

Mirror Lake reflecting Mt. Hood
Mirror Lake Photo By Kkmd

It lies on the border between two counties; Hood River and Clackamas about 80km south-east of Portland.

In North America, this glaciated peak is one of the most coveted by climbers and is situated within Mt. Hood National Forest. After Japan’s Mt. Fuji, it is the second most popular spot for climbers. It houses 12 named glaciers and snowfields, which cover about 80% of the mountain. The famous skiing zone being the Palmer Glacier within Timberline Lodge.

Due to past minor eruptions, it is characterized as a potentially active volcano though informally the mountain is considered dormant. Fumaroles near the summit (Devil’s Kitchen and Hot Rocks) contribute to the fear that an eruption is imminent. Although an explosive eruption is unlikely, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the chances of an eruption between 3-7 % in the next 30 years.

 

Mount Hood Climate

Mt. Hood experiences the Mediterranean type of Climate.

The average temperature is 46.8°F (8.2°C). July is the warmest month with temperatures averaging 63.6°F (17.6°C). While January is the coldest month with temperatures averaging 30.2°F (-1°C).

The highest temperature (35°C) was recorded in July and the lowest temperature (-21.7°C) recorded in January.

The mountain gets 38inches of precipitation yearly. December receives the most precipitation while July has the least amount of rain.

Snow is 57 inches on average.

 

Climbing Mt. Hood

Contrary to popular opinion that Mt. Hood can be tackled by inexperienced hikers, ascending this snow capped peak requires technical skills and experience. This trivialization and carelessness have led to a number of deaths on Mt. Hood. Actually, an unprepared climber has sadly considered a risk to other experienced climbers.

It will take a roughly 4-7hours to summit Mt. Hood if you’re in peak shape but 6-9 hours if you aren’t.

Now that we have ascertained that this mountain is a technical climb, proper mountaineering equipment, and safety skills are mandatory. Due to rapid weather changes, safety greatly depends on the climber’s fast judgment, skill, and preparation.

I will not hesitate to emphasize the need for proper training before tackling Mt. Hood. Physical conditioning is quite essential if you want a successful trek. I suggest going on training hikes or making use of hilly terrain that more or less simulates the high elevation of Mt. Hood. Carry a weight of about 20-30 pounds consisting of the equipment you will need on the mountain, on your back during these training sessions.

Ice-axe used for climbing ice mountain
Ice-axe Photo by Chriscom

You should also be trained in crampon and self-arrest techniques using the ice-axe. Familiarity with other safety techniques like First Aid, crevasse rescue, roped travel, navigation and avalanche condition assessment will be an added advantage.

Make sure you are aware of the risk elements associated with the climb. Get to know the type, how to avoid or mitigate it. Some of the dangers on the mountain include:

 

  1. Rock/Icefall

This happens due to strong winds, sun, and vibrations that loosen the surfaces holding the ice and dust. So the debris comes tumbling down the slopes. Rockfall is likely to occur during Fall and Summer while ice fall is likely to occur during Winter.

  • Mitigation Tip:

Get an early start off between 12 am and 2 am so that you’re back to the base before 9 am when the danger of ice/rock fall is highly likely. Also, once on the upper slopes wearing a helmet would be recommended.

  1. Fumaroles

Fumaroles are openings or vents on the earth’s crust in volcanic areas that emit poisonous gases like sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, and carbon dioxide. These sulfurous gases smell like rotten eggs. They are active all year round. Lingering near these zones might trigger suffocation, nausea and it is potentially fatal.

  • Mitigation Tip:

Avoid getting comfortable around these zones and keep your walk steady.

  1. Avalanches

These are huge masses of snow moving downhill. The velocity of an avalanche increases rapidly in volume and mass as it gains momentum picking up debris and snow on its path.

They normally occur due to a temperature increase that causes melting of ice normally between 9 am and 1 pm a structural instability or a trigger from climbers.

  • Mitigation Tip:

An avalanche condition assessment should be carried out each time a climb is attempted, especially after snowfall in spring.

  1. Crevasses

These are open and deep cracks that occur in glaciers. They vary in size and depth. On the popular South route of Mt. Hood, the Bergschrund crevasse is the primary one. Other crevasses can be present during spring and summer above Palmer.

  • Mitigation Tip:

Navigate carefully around them.

  1. Other Climbers

A potential danger is higher when there’s a massive influx of people attempting to climb the mountain, especially during the summer and spring months.

  • Mitigation Tip:

Be polite and patient. Ensure that there’s adequate space between you and other climbers. Move fast and carefully especially through chutes.

 

Clothing

Improper clothing on Mt. Hood would lead to a numbing frostbite. I suggest the 4-layer approach that entails shell, insulation, mid layer and base layer. All clothing should be synthetic or breathable.

Gloves, socks, hats and boots and balaclavas should be part of your essential itinerary.

 

Equipment

  • Crampons-These will ensure you have a firm grip on the ice while offering stability and traction.

Tip: choose well-fitting and comfortable boots prior to getting crampons.

  • Ice axe-It is quite portable but having the skill to use it for self-arrest is necessary. Practice several times before the climb.
  • Headlamp-You will definitely need a headlamp considering you will be climbing Mt. Hood at night.
  • Shovel-This will ensure that you can quickly dig yourself or someone else out when bad weather pulls the rug under your feet and you/they are stuck in a snow cave.
  • First Aid Kit-You should carry a light-weight kit from which you can dispense aid to yourself or another climber in case of an injury.

Other necessary equipment includes; gaiters, trekking poles, helmets, map or compass, sun protection cream, overnight gear, a mobile device, climbing harness, rope, food, and water.

Permits

You will require a Wilderness Permit from Climbers’ Cave or Timberline Lodge to access Mt. Hood National Forest.

The Climbers’ Registration Form shows the number of people in your team, climbing dates, emergency numbers etc. It is not mandatory but I highly recommend it. It is also acquired from Timberline Lodge.

The Sno-Park Permit is seasonally mandatory. It is required by the Transportation Department of Oregon for car users from November through to April.

 

Best time to climb

Depending on the route chosen, any time of the year can be ideal to climb Mt. Hood.

However, mid-April to mid-July is the best time recommended if using the South Side routes which are the most popular. However, ultimate indicators of the best time to climb should be mountain and weather conditions.

Accommodation on Mt. Hood

Portland is only a few kilometers away from Mt. Hood (about 2 hours) If you’re a speed maniac possibly an hour. It offers several options for accommodation, easy access to the airport and rental cars. Most climbers opt to leave the city in the late evening so as to climb at night.

Hood River near Mt. Hood
Hood river near Mt. Hood By Sam Beebe, Ecotrust

You may choose to stay in Hood River. It’s an awesome place to stay and is closer to the mountain, though smaller without a major airport.

Though expensive, you may prefer to stay in the iconic Timberline Lodge. It is the most convenient and it holds plenty of history for your gulping. Its architecture is equally mind-blowing having been built with giant beams and boulders with rusty finishes and cozy fireplaces.

If not, a cheaper alternative, operated by a climbing organization in Portland would be the Mazama Lodge which is also closer to the mountain.

The Cascade Huts are more of a Do It Yourself (DIY) kind of huts. They are one-room rustic cabins that accommodate up to 8 people each and are well-stocked with stoves, sleeping bags, utensils etc. During summer the huts provide water and food as well.

There are other several inns and resorts that offer affordable accommodation in Government Camp.

If you prefer to camp, there are several options for this. Mt. Hood National Forest and the Timberline Lodge Parking lot would suffice if you have an RV.

You may also camp on the mountainside but be cautious of rock fall and avalanches.

 

Mountain climbing routes

The classic climbing routes are the South Side routes, North Face Right Gully, Cooper’s Spur, Devil’s Kitchen Headwall, Ravine, Sunshine Route, Wy’East, Sandy Glacier Headwall, Reid Glacier Headwall, West Crater Rim Route andLeuthold Couloir.

The recommended and popular routes to the summit of Mt. Hood are the South Side Routes.

The South Side Route begins atTimberline Lodge parking lot. There are three variations of this route once you get to the Palmer ski lift; the Pearly Gates is most popular with climbers, the Old Chute which is normally an alternative when there’s congestion at the Pearly Gates and the West Crater Rim variation is for climbers who want a challenge.

Ascent via the South Side Route

Arrive at Timberline Lodge at around 11 pm, organize and gear up aiming to begin the climb 12 am. Walk along the ski boundary as you head north. You will find a worn path which will be your highway till you reach the Palmer Lift House.

Take your first break at Silcox Warming Hut which is slightly above Timberline. The lift houses act as landmarks and windbreakers not as shelters. They simply provide minimal protection.

If visibility is poor, you can use the lifts and get to the Magic Mile Lift House. If not, continue from Silcox on the main trail to find the Palmer Lift House. Check weather conditions as you take your second break. If the conditions are unfavorable, consider turning back or waiting for improved conditions.

From this lift house, heading north you will arrive at Crater Rock. I suggest using the eastern side of Crater Rock to get to the Hogsback ridge that links it to the rim of the summit. It is fairly reliable and more protected. Put on your crampons at this juncture.

From the Hogsback, you will have two variations to get you to the summit; the Pearly Gates and the Old Chute.

The Pearly Gates

This is the shortest and most direct route to the summit. It is also the steepest with high probabilities of rock/ice fall. To navigate this route safely, proper mountaineering gear is required.

Pearly Gates route
Pearly Gates Route by Tommy Unger

Move swiftly and carefully especially if it is springtime when a large cornice forms on the northern side of the rim.

 

The Old Chute

This may be your best option if the Pearly Gates are in bad condition. It is, however, less steep, though it has similar dangers as the Pearly Gates with a risk of avalanches.

Once at the summit, celebrate your achievement, grab a snack or drink, take some photos and begin heading back.

Descent

It is normally said that the summit of a mountain is just half of the journey. Descent from the summit of Mt. Hood will probably take you half the time you spent ascending, roughly 2-4hours. This does not mean it is an easy feat, though gravity will be your best ally.

I strongly recommend that you descend using the same route you used to the summit because you will now be familiar with the landmarks, obstacles, and conditions. However, Old Chute offers an easier descent.

Emergency Plan

I suggest that you come up with an emergency plan in case of any mishap. You should also alert a friend or a family member who will not be taking part in the climb. Include information on the route you will take, a timetable, check-in time, probably time for a search to be initiated, family member contacts et al.

  • Emergency/ Rescue/Helpline

To report an emergency, dial 911.

You can also contact Portland Mountain Rescue directly on 503-222-PMRU (7678)

 Website: www.pmru.org

Email: info@pmru.org

Other important contacts include;

Mt Hood Information Center-503-668-1700

Oregon State Police-503-731-3030

Mt Hood (ZigZag) Ranger Station-503-622-3191

Washington State Police-360-696-6161

Mt Hood (Hood River) Ranger Station-541-352-6002

 

Fauna on Mount Hood

Mount Hood is home to several animal species. You will find amphibians like bullfrogs, spotted salamanders, and the American toads. On the other hand, reptiles like the milk snake, garter snake, and snapping turtles also exist here. Further, you can spot some of the soil animals like Earthworms, beetles, termites, and many more.

Mount Hood is home to several animal species, amphibians like bullfrogs, spotted salamanders, and the American toads. On the other hand, reptiles, like the milk snake, garter snake, and snapping turtles, also exist here.

 

Chipmunks, foxes, raccoons, skunks, bats, squirrels, fisher cats, and turkeys are some of the mammals present on the mountain.

Over 150 bird species have been recorded as well.

 

Flora on Mount Hood

Vegetation in Mt. Hood include various species such as the Red Maple, the Northern Oak, the American Elm, beech, birch, Sassafras, the hemlock, ferns and the Eastern white pine.

 

Hiking with Kids

Despite the ascent being a technical one, 4 children are said to have successfully climbed to the summit of Mt. Hood. Two 11-year olds, one 9-year old and a 7-year old. So, yes, you can attempt the climb with your kids but extreme caution is to be observed and it is highly advisable to take a guide or two along.

Alternatively, there are many hiking trails that are children-friendly in the forest and lake regions.

Things to do

  • The Mt. Hood Scenic Loop

Take a drive that will have scenic views of Portland, Mt. Hood National Forest and the Hood River all in one loop.

  • Take a Day Hike

There are quite a number of hiking trails around Mt. Hood. The most spectacular and scenic routes are those along lake trails. The Trillium and Mirror Lakes would be well worth your exploration.

  • Visit Timberline Lodge

In 1977, this lodge became a National Historic Landmark. It is home to a wealth of history. Constructed in 1937, it has managed to preserve much of its design and decor despite the fact that it has modern amenities.

  • Camps and Cabins

There are over 100 documented camping areas with vault toilets and picnic tables that are run by the Forest Service. With many options to select from, spend the night with the iconic mountain by camping in one of the many campgrounds.

  • Hood Skibowl

This resort is well known for knight-skiing with half of the routes lit. It will give you a winter playground feel.

Skibowl at Mt. Hood with fireworks
Hood SkiBowl at night: By Mt. Hood Territory

During summer, activities on the mountain become high-adrenalin ventures like zip lining, horse-back riding and mountain biking.

  • The Meadows Ski Resort

This is the place to be for a variety of snowboarding and skiing terrain.

  • The Mt. Hood Railroad

A ride on this train will ensure a breathtaking view of the mountain and the Hood River.

Mount Shasta – Climbing and hiking the majestical, perfect cone

Mountain Shasta view

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Mt. Shasta

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Mt. Shasta 41.408982, -122.194926

How to Summit Mount Shasta

The legendary Mt. Shasta soars to 4322m high. It almost seems unreal as it rises majestically from the flatlands in perfect cone-shape and snow-cap. Even the naturalist Author John Muir, could not hold back upon seeing Mt. Shasta. He penned these heartwarming yet captivating words in 1874, “When I first caught sight of it, I was weary and 50 miles away and afoot. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since.”

Mt. Shasta is located in Siskiyou County, south end of the Cascade Range in California, United States. Known as the second highest peak in the region of the Cascades, it forms a part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

On a non-cloudy day, you can see the peak from almost 160 KM. It is amongst the top goals on the bucket list of many mountaineering enthusiasts. This natural wonder has attracted many presidents, authors, and poets over the centuries.

It is recognized as the most distinguished and sacred mountain in the world. The humans have a soft spot for mountain landscapes as sacred features, that’s why, many have attached to their spiritual attributes. The Native American Tribes of Northern California are known to have viewed Mt. Shasta as a holy ground. Its also being said that Anyone who attempted a climb unprepared in terms of cleansing rituals has risked harm from the protective spirits of the mountain.

Here’s everything you need to know about Mt. Shasta.

Geology and Eruption

Mt. Shasta is a potentially active volcano with four overlapping cones including Shastina, the most prominent one and the main summit itself. Furthermore, It is also home to the 7 popular glaciers, including Wintun, Whitney, Bolam,  Hotlum, Mud Creek, Watkins, and Konwakiton.


Is Mt. Shasta likely to erupt?

Pacific Ring of fire
Ring of Fire, Illustration By Gringer 

 

Mt. Shasta is part of the notorious chain of volcanoes (Ring of Fire) in the Pacific Basin, where many eruptions and earthquakes take place. The U.S. Geological Survey has rated it as one of the highest threatening volcanoes. It has continuously erupted for over last 10,000 years in intervals of 600-800 years. The last one happened about two centuries ago, in 1786.

The presence of fumaroles indicates the fact that it is alive and brewing. Geologists are quick to agree that it is not a question of “if” but “when” it will erupt.

Mount Shasta Climate

Mt. Shasta experiences an average of 122 sunny days, with a warm-summer Mediterranean type of climate. The average annual temperatures on Mt. Shasta is 49.2°F, with an annual high of 62.2°F and an annual low of 36.2°F. The highest temperature of 41 °C was recorded in 1981, whereas, the lowest temperature of −25 °C was recorded in 1980. The month of July is the warmest month while January is the coldest one.


Let’s take a look at what it takes to climb Mt. Shasta.

Climbing Mt. Shasta

Is it possible to climb Mt. Shasta?

Climbing Mt. Shasta is one of the great ways to communicate with the nature. Most of the routes are easy, especially the Avalanche Gulch. So anyone with an insatiable desire to reach the summit and has a good physical condition can surely attempt the climb. However, proper physical training, backpacking, and hiking experience is highly recommended.

How long does it take to climb the Mt. Shasta?

It actually depends on various factors like the goal or purpose of the climb (is it to enjoy the scenic views, to get to the peak in the shortest time possible, to have a feel of the terrain and explore it, etc.), your physical condition and the route you choose. On an average, it can take up to 8-10 hours to ascend, and 4-5hours for the descent. You can choose to summit in one day, but it is recommended to divide the trek in 2 days so that you can acclimatize and increase your trek progress.

What’s the weather like?

Considering Mt. Shasta stands tall and in isolation, it has a tendency to amplify its existing weather. This is why the visibility can plummet to zero at higher altitudes within a few hours. A drastic drop in temperature and strong winds can be noticed as you ascend. During summers, lightning storms are quite common as well. Therefore, traveling cautiously, carrying extra clothing regardless of a normal weather, carrying a survival kit, food, and shelter can prove to be extremely helpful.

What equipment should climber carry?

I suggest that you call ahead to get information on current weather and mountain conditions. This will determine the type of equipment you can use. Other factors include the route that you will choose and the time of year at which you will trek. You will be needing crampons, an ice axe, and a helmet for the Avalanche Gulch route as well as for other routes.

Other essentials include comfortable hiking boots, maps, flashlight/headlamp, pocket knife, stove, matches, a locator beacon, a fully charged phone with extra power bank, sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen lotion.

Are permits, passes or reservations needed?

Yes. Most of the area located above and below the tree line is within the Mt. Shasta Wilderness. You will need to acquire a Wilderness Permit, which is free of charge. You can get the permit from Mt. Shasta Station or McCloud Ranger Station. These permits come in handy during search and rescue missions, as they contain most of the climber’s information.

If you intend to climb over 10,000 feet, you will have to obtain a Summit Pass at $25 per person. The validity of a Summit Pass is 3 days. They can be acquired from the aforementioned stations or from vendors.

Also,there are restrictions placed on human activities that tamper with the Wilderness’ ecosystem so as to preserve its integrity. Some of these regulations include a maximum number of 10 people per team and 7 days as the duration of stay in a 30 day period. Dogs and campfires are prohibited. You will be required to pack out your solid human waste.

Disposal of human waste along the routes of Mt. Shasta Wilderness poses a serious threat to its environment, aesthetic, and is also a health hazard to the rangers and other climbers. In an effort to minimize these problems, a Human Waste Disposal System was developed. So you will be required to pack out your food, garbage, and waste. These bags are available at McCloud Ranger and Mt. Shasta District Offices free of charge.

When is the best time to climb Mt. Sashta?

Many climbers opt to summit from May to September, depending on the chosen route and the different favorable conditions along the aforesaid routes.

For Avalanche Gulch route, which is the most popular and non-technical route, the best time to climb is usually between mid-May and mid-July. During the month of July, there is a good snowpack coverage, whereas, the weather is more ideal towards the end of May.

As the summer progresses, however, the rockfall becomes a major hazard in the south side of the mountain along Avalanche Gulch route.

How Accommodation works on Mt. Shasta?

Camping is allowed throughout the Mt. Shasta region. For many of the south side routes, an awesome camping option – The Sierra Club Foundation at Horse Camp has facilities like fresh water, composting toilets, Leave No Trace information, campsites, and an emergency shelter. It costs you $3 per bivy and $5 for per tent. These fees are donated to the organization for the maintenance. You can also camp at the Bunny Flat trailhead.

Helen Lake is also another common camping area, and in case you decide to stay there, ensure that you carry extra water for cooking and drinking and extra fuel. The upside of camping at Helen Lake is that you will be rejuvenated to tackle the steepest part after a night’s rest. The downside is that the ground is rocky, the temperature is cold, and the winds are strong; which may rob you of your beauty sleep.

There are two campgrounds that are maintained by the Forest Service on Mt. Shasta; McBride Springs and Panther Meadows, both located off Everitt Memorial Highway.

Fowlers Camp is located along The McCloud River and it offers a good spot and easy access to the east side trailheads.

Also you can explore other good campgrounds like Castle Lake and Gumboot Lake are situated on the west side of Mt. Shasta and only a few minutes from the town.

There are comfortable and well-furnished hotels near Mt.Sashta as well. In case you’re on a budget or you just don’t want to go back home grumbling that you spent all your money on accommodation, here are 5 affordable hotels for the stay, starting from $55 only.

  1. Strawberry Valley Inn
  2. Travelodge by Wyndham Dunsmuir
  3. Best Western Plus Tree House
  4. Shasta View Lodge
  5. Shasta Starr Ranch Bed & Breakfast

Mountain climbing routes

Mt. Shasta provides numerous routes to the summit. The south side routes hold Avalanche Gulch, Casaval Ridge, Cascade Gulch, Green Butte Ridge, Sargents Ridge, and West Face. On the other hand, the north side routes are Bolam Glacier, Bolam/Whitney Ridge, Hotlum Glacier, and Whitney Glacier. Moving to the east side, the routes include Clear Creek, Hotlum/Wintun Snowfield, Wintun Glacier, and Wintun Ridge. Here are a few often-used routes.

Avalanche Gulch

This route is the most direct and popular one to the summit. Nicknamed the John Muir route, it is at its best in the months of May to July, when there is plenty of snow. The route is favorable for all levels of climbers. You can camp at Horse Camp and its access is through the Bunny Flat trailhead.

The West Face

Talking about the alternative to the Avalanche Gulch, the West Face route is the second-best one with a more or less similar technical level. It is a scenic route and you can camp at Hidden Valley, a beautiful base camp. It is best attempted in May-July during snow year. This route can also be used for skiing and snowboarding during the descent. Are you up for it?

Casaval Ridge

Casaval Ridge on Mt. Shasta
Casaval Ridge on Mount Shasta seen from near Helen Lake

This route is for those mountaineers, who love challenges. It is quite steep yet undeniably beautiful! It is best climbed during the winter and spring season.

Emergency Plan

An Emergency Plan is essential before you attempt the summit. Include the information about the route you will use, contact information in case of an emergency, a timetable, etc. This information is normally covered in the Wilderness Permit and enhances the search and rescue operations.

Information about the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, website: www.fs.usda.gov/stnf

To find out climbing conditions, call (530) 926-9613

For 24 hour information about climbing and avalanche conditions on Mt. Shasta, check out the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center website- www.shastaavalanche.org or call (530) 926-9613.

Also some other important contacts include:

Mt. Shasta Ranger Station (Avalanche Report): (530) 926-9613

Mt. Shasta Ranger Station (Forest Service): (530) 926-4511

McCloud Ranger Station: (530) 964-2184


Flora and Fauna on the Mount Shasta

The Mt. Shasta has a mixture of conifer forest trees such as sugar pine, cedars, western white pine, douglas fir, and white fir. Underbrush includes chinquapin, snowbrush, greanleaf Manzanita, and tanoak.

Miner’s lettuce, mountain violet, Shasta lily, and showy phlox are some of the common wildflowers found in the zone.

Juniper and mountain mahogany can be found on the northeast flank.

Wildlife on Mt Shistaincludes the coyote, deer, mountain eagles, black bear, prairie falcons, red-tail hawks, and the ground squirrel.

Hiking with Kids

Kip Van Horn was 9 years old when he successfully summited Mt. Shasta. Children under the age of 18 years can attempt the climb under proper guidance. However, there are many other adventurous options for hiking with kids. There are several hiking trails, for instance, you can go tubing, visit the Sisson Museum, and many others.


Things to Enjoy

McCloud River and Falls

During summer, adults and kids are seen to enjoy jumping from the falls into the beautiful pools of the McCloud River. The Upper Falls have well-manicured walking trails, fishing spots, clear blue-sky ponds, and amazing picnic areas.

Lake Siskiyou

Lake Siskiyou
Lake Siskiyou Photo By KyleAndMelissa22

This lake offers water rafts, water toys, kayak rentals, and paddle boats. It also has a beautiful beach that is used as a playground.

Shastice Park

Shastice Park, located a few kilometers up the EverittMemorial Highway is just the right place to be. The skating season starts in November and ends in February. Non-holiday tickets go for only $10! It also has a jungle gym, a tennis court, and offers a fabulous view of the prestigious mountain.

Lava Tubes

Pluto Cave is almost a mile in depth, which is why it is called the lava tube. Furthermore, you can enjoy the mystery of this cave and be ready to be amazed by these volcanic formations.

The Sisson Museum

This museum is home to Mt. Shasta’s history. Kids can engage in various experimental activities, as you delve into getting familiar with the mountain and its origin. While at it, you can go on the fish hatchery tour. This museum is a popular spot for school field trips as well.

Dunsmuir

These botanical gardens are perfectly placed on the edge of River Sacramento. You can take a tour of the gardens and have a picnic. Also you should take the time off to walk along the river and enjoy some quiet meditation as you breathe in nature at its best. The gardens also offer a hall that can be hired for family reunions or special events.

Medicine Lake

This is a caldera lake which sits in an ancient volcano, located a few miles East of Mt. Sashta City. It offers great opportunities for sightseeing and recreation. Covering an area of about 600 acres, Medicine Lake is well-known for its crystal clear waters.

Golfing

Yes, you read it right. The Lake Shastina Golf Resort takes care of all your golfing needs. This resort offers a stunning view of the mountain. In addition, other golf courses include the Weed Golf Course and the McCloud Golf Course.

I’m sure you’re all excited and eager to take on the adventure Mt. Shasta has to offer!

 

Dolomita di Brenta –the Wildest part of the Alps

dolomita di brenta

The Dolomita di Brenta is a mountain group that is part of the Dolomites, listed on the UNESCO heritage list. Although these mountains are certainly not the highest in the Alps, they might well be contender as some of the most impressive. The Dolomites in the Northeast of Italy are characterized by their roughness and purity. The sheer peaks are an impressive sight hiding adventurous trails, such as via ferrata, and mountain hut treks. It is the main reason why enthusiast hikers and mountaineers have visited the region for over 100 years.

About the Dolomita di Brenta

The Dolomita di Brenta is a mountain group in the Italian Dolomites. It is fully located within the borders of the province of Trente, isolated from the rest of the Dolomites. The massif is surrounded by four valleys: Val di Sole, Val di Non, Valli Giudicarie and Val Rendena.

The highest peak of is the Cima Tosa with an altitude of 3176 meters. Its glaciated summit was first ascended in 1865. The region is especially popular with travelers looking to do the via ferrata, a challenging trail well-known in the area. One of the main attractions of this region is Lago di Tovel, a mountain lake that has had a deeply red color since the ‘60s.

Accommodation around the Dolomita di Brenta

The Dolomites always have appealed to adventure seekers looking for something more challenging than just hiking. But even in winter, this region attracts visitors. The most famous winter sport destination is Madonna di Campiglio in Val Rendena, if you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Feeling Hotel Fontanella, is a modern family-run building, with a wide and spectacular view of Lake Molveno and the Brenta Dolomites. At Hotel Fontanella you will not only relax! In Molveno and the Brenta Dolomites you can practice many activities both in summer and in winter, fun is guaranteed in every season at the Hotel.

Vallesinella, located at the gates of the Nature Park at the foot of the Adamello Brenta Dolomites, surrounded by nature and just 4 km from Madonna di Campiglio. The only 3-star hotel in Madonna di Campiglio near the Vallesinella waterfall and at the foot of the Brenta Dolomites.

Hotel Lory, is centrally located in this  picturesque village and  on arrival you will marvel at the fantastic view over the mountains and the lake of Molveno.

Hiking around the Dolomita di Brenta

The Dolomites are well-known for the via ferrata routes, a combination of mountaineering and hiking. Via ferrata is derived from Italian, meaning “iron road”. These protected climbing routes are secured with steel cables and ladders attached to the rocks. A specific via ferrata kit is required to preventfalling.

Dolomita di Brenta Trek

The Dolomiti di Brenta Trek is a circular hiking route over the Brenta mountain massif that enables you to visit the wild, evocative Adamello Brenta Nature Park.It is a multi-day trek designed to give hikers the opportunity to stay overnight in mountain refuges and taste the delicious and traditional Trentino cuisine. The Dolomita di Brenta trek is without doubt one of the top walks in the Italian Dolomites and should be on every hiker’s to do list!

Nature trail

This 4-hour nature trail celebrates the forces of nature such as water, which has the ability to shape and heal. Starting at the Comano Spa and leading towards the deep gorge of Canyon del Limaro, along the river Sarca to Adamello, this trail is not to be missed when visiting the Dolomita di Brenta region.

Lago di Tovel

Lago di Tovel
Lago di Tovel Photo by Giulio Giuffa

An easy hike, but one well worth doing is the circular trail around the lago di Tovel. It takes about 1h 20 minutes to complete, and it not only offers great scenery of the lake, but of the neighbouring peaks of the Brenta Dolomites as well.

Valesinella waterfalls

Valesinella waterfalls
Valesinella waterfalls Photo by Janet

Not too difficult with little altitude difference (400m) makes this a trail doable for families with children. The distance of 10 kilometer makes this a semi-day trip from your base and affords the opportunity to take your time and have a picnic along the way. The hike starts in Valesinella, easily reachable with public transportation from Madonna di Campiglio.

The Lagorai Trek

This trail is part of the Dolomiti Panorama Trek which connects the Dolomiti Trekking and Dolomiti Pala Ronda Trek. It is a five-day walk which explores the wild and off-the-beaten path region of mountain lakes, pastures and forests. Rare wildlife can be spotted if you are lucky. The area is populated with red deer, golden eagles, and chamois.

Villages

Village of Tenna
Village Tenna Photo by Manveer Jarosz

Village Tenna is in a privileged position when it comes to idyllic settings. Located on a hill, it offers view ofnearby Lake Levico and Caldonazzo. Also, the quaint town Pinzolo has drawn active travelers for decades since the options here are endless–skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and paragliding.The cable car in town makes it possible to reach high altitudes in minutes. From this point, you will be granted great views over the Brenta Dolomites. On the eastern side of the Dolomita di Brenta, you will find the town of Andalo, another great option if you love panoramic views reachable by cable car. This charming village is nestled in a beautiful valley and has a distinctive German flair in its streets. Another beautiful town is Molveno, sitting at the northern end of Lake Molveno with the Dolomita di Brenta soaring behind. With several hiking trails in the region, this is a hotspot for travelers who love the outdoors. The resort town Madonna di Campiglio, on the other hand, is the main place to stay when visiting.

Rifugio Brentei

Mountain Hut - Rifugio Brentei

Rifugio Brentei is a mountain hut constructed in 1932. It is often reached from Madonna di Campiglio via a hike that takes about 4 hours. A lot of climbers use it as an overnight for climbs to Crozzon di Brenta (3135m) and Cima Tossa (3173m). From the hut, one can see the famous northern ice gorge of Cima Tossa. The refuge has 90 places to accommodate visitors and is open from June to September.

Rifugio Angelo Alimonta

Mountain hut - Rifugio Angelo Alimonta

Located at an altitude of 2850 meters, this privately-owned mountain hut offers views of the glacier Vedretta dei Sfulmini in the heart of the Brenta Dolomites. The hut can be reached via different routes from Madonna di Campiglio, but the most common passes by the Rifugio Brentei. It is often used by hikers and mountaineers as a resting place for climbs over the via ferrata Via delle Bocchette.

Rifugio Silvio Agostini

Mountain hut - Rifugio Silvio Agostini

This mountain hut was named after the Italian mountain guide, Silvio Agostini,who died in the mountains in 1936. It was built in 1937, expanded in 1975, and restored in 1995. It is a good starting point for climbs to Cima d’Ambiez and Cima Tossa, both peaks in the Brenta Dolomites.

Rifugio XII Apostoli

Located at an altitude of 2487 meters in the province of Trentino, this refuge is owned by the Società Alpinisti Tridentini. It is a special place to visit as there is a small church nearby which holds a ceremony every Sunday to commemorate all the mountaineers who have lost their lives in the mountains. The name derives from a group of 12 rocks nearby that sit close to each other like the twelve apostles.

Madonna di Campiglio: Grostè Sessellift − Talstation, Rifugio Graffer

To Rifugio Brentei from Madonna di Compaglio

Starting at the lively mountain resort of Madonna di Campiglio, the hike to the Rifugio Brentei, high up in the Brenta massif,has impressive views. It is positioned at the center of the rocky amphitheater of the high Val Brenta, right in front of the imposing north wall of the Crozzon di Brenta, in the Adamello-Brenta Natural Park.

Things to do around the Dolomita di Brenta

dolomita di brenta

The Italian Dolomites are famous for their via ferrata routes. These trails have protected sections that secure hikers and climbers with steel cables and ladders. The origin of this activity lies in WW I, when soldiers crossed these rugged peaks. For those who feel a little less adventurous, there is an option to visit some beautiful lakes. Lake Molveno, Lago di Tovel and Lago di Toblino are only a few worth visiting. Lake Molveno is situated in the Adamello – Brenta nature park, one of the largest protected areas in the Alps. Exploring it gives you a chance to see some typical alpine wildlife. Plus, there are about twelve brown bears still wandering around the park, but the chance of actually seeing one is close to nil.

Hiking with kids

While via ferrata is typically known as a more challenging activity, it can be a great one to do for a family holiday. Via ferrata routes have several levels of difficulty, and the Via Ferrata Col Rodella and Via Ferrata Roda de Vael both are great options for a guided experience with children. The trails are well suited for brave youth and a great way of building up experience. The only question that remains is: what to do with the terrified mom?

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Dolomita di Brenta

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Dolomita di Brenta 46.179300, 10.899300

Kilimanjaro – The Ultimate Guide

kilimanjaro

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Kilimanjaro

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Kilimanjaro -3.065653, 37.352013


The Ultimate Guide to
 Kilimanjaro Climbing Mount

At 5895m high, Mount Kilimanjaro exudes intimidating presence as the highest mountain in Africa. Hence, its unbeatable name-the Roof of Africa. As if that wasn’t enough, it is also known to be the tallest free-standing mountain in the world!

It majestically seats by itself in the beautiful plains of East Africa, specifically in the Kilimanjaro region in North-Eastern Tanzania.

Mount Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano and has three volcanic cones that were formed eons ago after subsequent volcanic eruptions. Kibo is the highest cone and it houses the famous Uhuru peak. Mawenzi and Shira, the other two cones, are now eroded and extinct.

Mt Kilimanjaro Volcanic Peak
Mt Kilimanjaro Volcanic Peak

Mount Kilimanjaro Climate

Mt. Kilimanjaro’s height influences the climate around it. Due to its isolated positioning, it experiences upslope winds during the day and downslope winds during the night. The southern side normally has a stronger current than the northern one.

It has two rainy seasons which fall between March and May and the other in November. The southern slopes receive more rainfall than the northern ones.

The summit area has an average temperature of approximately −7 °C (19 °F). Daytime experiences high temperatures of −4 °C (25 °F) and nighttime −9 °C (16 °F) which can go as low as  −15 to −27 °C (5 to −17 °F).

 

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

So, you want to summit this phenomenal mountain? Great! The good news is that you do not need to be a mountaineering expert or have technical skills on climbing or hiking. You may need to use your hands once in a while for stability in some areas, which is doable. Though this doesn’t mean it is a licking-of-ice-cream kind of climb. The low temperatures at high elevation and occasional high winds may act against you making the trek difficult and dangerous. This means that acclimatization is essential to reduce the high risk of altitude sickness.

You may also need to put a few things in place before undertaking this venture;

  • Organize your visa if you aren’t a Tanzanian citizen.
  • Get the necessary vaccinations especially Yellow Fever and/or anti-malaria medication.
  • Book your flights. Kilimanjaro Airport is the closest to this mountain, situated between Moshi and Arusha.
  • Get in shape.
  • There are tour operators who offer climbing equipment, so you may choose to buy or rent.
  • You will need proper hiking boots, sunglasses, a hat and well-layered clothing to beat the frost.
  • Access to Mt Kilimanjaro is restricted because it is protected by the Kilimanjaro National Park. So some park fees will definitely apply.

You pay once a Rescue Fee: $20

You pay per day
Your Entry Fee: $70 (listed as “Conservation Fee”)
Guide and Porter Entrance Fees: TZS 3500 (about $1.70 and includes entry and camping/hut fees)

You’ll end up with 3-5 staff per climber, depending on the size of your group.

You pay per night
Hut/Camping Fee: $60/$50

 

Accommodation on the Mountain

You will mostly sleep in tents because most routes are camping routes. The only route with huts is the Marangu route.

There is no running water but the tour guides have porters who will cater to you in terms of food and drinking water.

However, there are hotels near the mountain such as Mt. Kilimanjaro View Lodge, Aishi Machame Hotel, Ameg Lodge Kilimanjaro among others. You could choose to relax in one of these after the trek.

 

Mountain climbing routes

Most of the main routes up the mountain are walking routes. You have quite a number of routes to choose from depending on foot traffic, climate, scenery and difficulty. The official routes are Machame, Marangu, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe, Northern Circuit and Rongai.

Machame is the most scenic route, albeit steeper. It can be done in a minimum 6 days. It is suitable for the more adventurous personalities.

Marangu is relatively easy with the same ascent and descent routes. It is the only route with huts as accommodation and foot traffic is common. It can be done within 5 days.

Lemosho is a highly recommended route which can take about 6-8 days to complete. It has an incredible view and with low foot traffic.

Sunset at Shira Huts Camp
Sunset at Shira Huts Camp Photo by Stig Nygaard

Shira is a beautiful route to use considering you will cross the Shira Plateau before joining the Machame route. It is similar to Lemosho because of its high starting point and also important for climbers to acclimatize. It takes roughly 7 days to complete.

Umbwe is the shortest route but very steep. It takes 5 days to complete. However, the success rate is quite low with this route so it is not popular.

The Northern Circuit is the longest and newest route. It is considered to be one of the best because of the scenic views and provision for enough time for acclimatization. It can be done in seven or more days.

The Rongai is a slightly difficult climb because it is moderately steep. It is recommended for those people who want minimal human contact.

To get to the base of the Kibo cone, you can use any of these 6 routes;

To get to the summit, the Barafu route, Kibo Huts route, and the Western Breach are used depending on which of the six routes you choose.

However, the Western Breach was closed due to being prone to rock slides and rock falls which claimed the lives of some climbers in 2006.

Upon descent, two trails lead down the mountain. You will descend via the Mweka route if you used the Umbwe, Machame, Lemosho and Shira routes to go up.

You will descend via the Marangu route if you used the Rongai and Marangu routes to ascend.

 

Best time to climb

Any time of the year can be ideal to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. However, it is best to climb during the driest months of the year, September/October and July/August. January and February are also appropriate months because the weather conditions are most favorable.

You may experience occasional rainfalls in March with the rainy season being in April and May.

 

Flora on Mount Kilimanjaro

Mt Kilimanjaro has five ecological zones. At 800m to 1800m there is the Bushland vegetation with farms and villages.

Next to it is the dense Rainforest at 1800m – 2800m. This beautiful lush green zone receives a considerable amount of rain yearly. You will get to see huge sycamore trees, junipers, moss, and ferns.

The next zone is the Semi-Alpine Heath and Moorland zone found at 2800m- 4000m. Here exist the strange giant groundsel, Lobelias and the Senecio trees.

Above 4000m you will find the Alpine Desert zone which has extreme weather variations and little rainfall. Minimal variety of plants can be evidenced.

From 5000m you will get to the Frozen Moonscape zone. It only has rock and ice. The nights are extremely cold and no life is found here.

 

Fauna on Mount Kilimanjaro

Silvery cheeked Hornbill
Silvery cheeked Hornbill

In the lower areas like the forest zone, you will find various species of birds ranging from the Hartlaub Turacos, the tropical Boubous, Silvery-cheeked Hornbills and more. The colobus monkeys, elephants, olive baboons, leopards, mongooses can also be found in this zone.

 

Hiking with Kids

Yes! You can go hiking with your kids on Mt. Kilimanjaro as long as they are 10 years and above. How exciting is this! So, if your children are up to the challenge and fun, you can have them join you. It will be a great way to bond as a family.

 

Things to do

Apart from conquering this majestic mountain, there are quite a number of exciting things to do during and after the climb. Some of these include:

 

Wildlife Watching

Mount Kilimanjaro being inside the Kilimanjaro National Park and in the Moorland zone is diverse in game. It’s easy to take hikes on this zone however, you may have to hire a park ranger to reach some areas. You will get to see some, if not all of the “big five” animals. Elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, and buffalos graze these lands. You will also encounter baboons and bush pigs.

 

Visiting Chala the Crater Lake

Lake Chala was formed after a volcanic eruption on Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is located on the border between Tanzania and Kenya. This lake covers an area of 1.6 square miles. It’s mostly famed for its color-changing waters that range from emerald green to turquoise blue to midnight blue depending on which time of the year you are visiting. The only available accommodation near the scenic lake is Lake Chala Safari Camp.

Lake Chala,Tanzania
Lake Chala,Tanzania Photo by Joachim Huber

You could go swimming or hiking along the crater walls. You can even spot the endangered Chala tilapia and capture a shot for memory’s sake.

 

Hiking

Hiking normally happens at the lower levels of Mt. Kilimanjaro, especially the area surrounding the Shira Plateau. These hikes take roughly 3 days and you will sleep in the camps. The trails may not be smooth because they are not frequently maintained. But you will still get to experience scenic view and wildlife while putting your fitness level to a test as you climb over steep slopes and rocks.

 

Bathing in the Kikuletwa Hot Springs

After you have conquered the Roof of Africa and realize that you still have some energy and time to spare, you could go sightseeing outside the Kilimanjaro region. You will come across the Kikuletwa Hot Springs that will literally take your breath away. The clear blue waters of this hot spring will draw you in like a magnet. A dip in these springs may be the perfect version of relaxation that you needed. Plus, you will deserve it anyway after the great conquest!

Kikuletwa Hot Springs
Kikuletwa Hot Springs Photo by Mwangi Kirubi

But before you embark on this life-changing feat, here are some handy tips that will increase your chances of success and make the trip more enjoyable. More like greasing your wheels. Here we go!

Clothing:

  • We did mention that Mt. Kilimanjaro has 5 different temperate climates. This means that you will need a set for the cold and hot conditions. But keep in mind to pack lightly.
  • They should be layered. Test that you can comfortably wear them before you leave home.
  • Don’t wear cotton during your climb. At such high altitudes, it doesn’t dry easily. Wear synthetic and breathable fabric. You can wear my Kilimanjaro T-shirt at the campfire or when you go to sleep. I do.
  • Your essentials should be proper hiking boots and socks, hiking pants, enough underwear for the 7-8 day duration.
  • You should be prepared to “recycle” your outfit. Since the air is thin there, you will not sweat as much. But the case might be different if it’s not a rainy season because it will be extremely dusty.
  • In higher altitudes, solar radiation is equally higher because of the low levels of UV Protection. So throw in a pair of sunglasses and a brimmed sun hat to wear during the day.
  • Any other item or equipment you may need you could hire from the service providers.

Climbing:

  • Train physically as much as possible. Prior to the climbing date, I would recommend intense physical training at least 4 days a week, for about 3-4 months.
  • If you have access to hills in your home turf, try making use of them. If not, walk up-hill on a treadmill to improve your muscle strength.
  • As much as physical preparation is emphasized, Mt. Kilimanjaro will equally stretch you psychologically. The Summit day will entail 15 hours of climbing in very cold temperatures. You may have episodes where you will ask yourself existential questions and doubt your sanity, but stay positive.
  • Also be mentally prepared to sleep outdoors for a continuous 6-8 days.
  • Choose the right trekking route. For your trip to be a success and safe, the best advice I will give you is to choose a route that will enable you to spend a minimum of 8 days on the mountain for acclimatization. The best is the Lemosho Route.
  • Since the climb is not a competition, pace yourself. Go slowly (Pole Pole-The Swahili word for “slowly “mostly used by the locals). You will thank me for this tip later!
  • Hydrate and hydrate! You’re likely to be more dehydrated on high altitudes, so take lots of water. At least 3-4 liters a day.
  • Buy or hire a ski-pole. Ski poles reduce external and internal pressure on knee joints by almost 20%.
  • Acute Mountain Sickness attacks indiscriminately, whether you’re an expert mountaineer or not. So to acclimatize, find a guide who follows the “climb high-sleep low” rule. This simply means that you will climb to a higher altitude in the evenings and then descend to a lower altitude for sleeping.
  • On the second or third day of your ascent, take Diamox tablets, even if you will not be experiencing any symptoms of altitude sickness. The downside, however, is that you will have to pee almost every 10 minutes because it is diuretic.
  • Sunscreen is also quite essential.

Camping:

  • Pay for a package that offers hot meals than packed lunch boxes. It might cost you a few more dollars but it will well be worth it.
  • Earplugs will come in handy at night because the porters may be loud and some campers snore loudly.

Hygiene:

  • Please rent a toilet. Especially if you’re a lady. Privacy and convenience is quite rare on that side of the mountain, considering during daytime you will be using the open spaces. Yes, you heard me right, so the sooner you accept this fact, the better. There are some outhouses, though they aren’t well maintained.
  • Carry toilet paper, it will be equal to gold!
  • Bathing water is not available, just a bowl of warm water. So have some wet wipes with you.

Additional Miscellaneous Tips:

  • Bring along some snack treats like cereal energy bars, candy or chewing gum. A little sugar rush won’t hurt.
  • Prepare for the descent. Walking down a mountain is never easy on your knees. I would suggest some anti-inflammatory medication to ease this tension.
  • Be friendly to the porters, chefs, guides and fellow climbers. You will need each other literally! After all, making friends will be inevitable.
  • Carry an extra pair of batteries for your camera. You don’t want to miss out on capturing a once-in-a-lifetime moment, do you?
  • Also, make sure the camera fits in the hip pockets of your backpack for easy access.
  • Carry a pen and a journal to document the journey. Those days literally vanish.
  • On summit night, don’t carry your drinking water on the outside of the backpack, it will freeze. Insulate it or protect it with under clothing.
  • Sing, laugh and dance to release endorphins! They are scientifically proven methods actually. You will definitely sing the famous “Hakuna Matata” from the movie Lion King in its various crescendos and diminuendos.
  • And most importantly…wait for it…enjoy yourself! Remember you’re on vacation and the goal is to relax. Take some time off, away from the camp to walk as you reflect on your life. Practice solitude and meditation during your free time. And don’t forget to watch out for the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises!

Wildstrubel

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Wildstrubel

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Wildstrubel 46.400300, 7.528600

The Wildstrubel 3,244 meters (10,643 ft.) is a mountain of the Alps, straddling the border between the Swiss cantons of Bern and Valais. It forms a sizeable glaciated massif, about 15 km wide, extending between the Gemmipass in the east and Rawilpass in the west, which connect the cantons Bern and Wallis of Switzerland.

The Wildstrubel has a unique location providing magnificent views of the most famous mountains in the Swiss Alps, the appearance of Wildstrubel is less rugged and steep. So Wildstrubel is a mountain that is suitable for incipient alpinists to make the first experience with ice and snow of glaciers.

 

About Wildstrubel

The Wildstrubel is one of Switzerland’s highest peaks rising to over 3,250m and circumnavigating this magnificent mountain is an ancient trail which has now become the renowned Wildstrubel Trek. The scenery, landscapes, and culture also contrast with the Bernese Oberland – very much‚ High Mountain with alpine characteristics while the Valais is more gentle and warm with vineyards adorning the steep slopes as they fall away from the high peaks above.

The mountain has three summits, these three summits are connected by a curved ridge of length about 3.5 km, which makes a convenient traverse. Usually, the summit region is reached across one of the numerous glaciers surrounding the mountain.

  • The western summit (the Lenkerstrubel, named Wildstrubel on Swiss maps) (3,244 or 3,243.5 m).
  • The central summit (named Mittelgipfel on Swiss maps) (3,243.5 m).
  • The eastern summit (the Adelbodnerstrubel or Grossstrubel) (3,242.6 m).

Still, ascending these glaciers on usual routes is relatively easy. The terrain is glaciated, making basic alpine knowledge necessary.

However, it is not only the facility of climbing this mountain that attracts so many climbers. The Wildstrubel is located between Gemmipass in the east and Rawilpass in the west, giving it an idyllic location with great views of two impressive mountain ranges.

 

Accommodations near Wildstrubel


Wildstrubel lies about halfway between Lank BE; 9 km, Sierre and Adelboden BE; 10 km, its summit being in the district of Lenk and Leukerbad.

Lank is the base for those who wish to see or climb the Wildstrubel. This mountain offers fantastic view stretching into the distance with the beautiful glacial scenery. The nearest settlement is the Oberried section of Lenk, at the head of the Simmental.

 

Hotels/ Campsites in Wildstrubel

Campingplatz Hasenweide Camping Hasenweide is located at the end of the valley, in the middle of nature. I stayed there myself a few times and the campsite is particularly suitable as a starting point for hikes. There is good public transport in the valley.

Lenk is flocked with day tourists; the location is fantastic with a view around the mountains from every angle. You can spend the night in one of the many hotels in the village.

However, there are several lodgings around with fantastic views of the Alps, delicious Valais specialties and no end of relaxation. So camping is not necessary for ascending Wildstrubel. But camping is possible in several camping sites in all the villages around.

If you are looking for a hotel, these are worth considering:

Hotel Oester-Mueller is located in Engstligenalp, 1954m in the north of Wildstrubel Center of winter-sports. In winter only to be reached by mountain railway from Station. Great location! At the station, you find the beginning of the footpath to Engstligenalp that can be used during summer-season, too. It is ideal for active snow sports enthusiasts. Beautiful location, rooms with breathtaking views, you feel comfortable in the cozy rooms, and you feel at home.

 

Hotel Berghotel Wildstrubel enjoys a unique location at the Gemmi Pass, 1.2 miles from Leukerbad and right next to the Gemmi Pass Cable Car Station. It offers a spacious sun terrace; no wonder sun-seekers feel entirely at home here. And sports enthusiasts discover an ideal base to set-off from at this mountain hotel too. And offers a magnificent view onto the Valaisian and the Bernese Alps from every room. A bus station is 0.6 miles away.

During their stay, guests can enjoy climbing at Daubenhorn Kletterstaig or Gemmiwand.

 

Hotel Schwarenbach 2060m, lying at the ancient footpath from Kandersteg to Gemmipass above Leukerbad (“Gemmiweg”). From this gloriously located hotel, Schwarenbach welcomes you to a refined yet familiar atmosphere and in rich of tradition, expressing a touch of Art-Deco, invite you to enjoy tranquility and relaxation.

Opened spring and summer. Enjoy comfort with excellent beds and mattresses.

 

Hotel Wildstrubel 2314m nearby upper station of mountain railway from Leukerbad to Gemmipass. Feel comfortable in the amazing rooms that make you feel at home, rewarding with a superb view of two glaciers.

 

Mountain Huts near Wildstrubel

The way into the Wildstrubel offers a breathtaking first view of the three peaks of the Wildstrubel, for those who wish to have a bit of a mountaineering feel, there are several points of supports around the massif.

The Lämmerenhütte hut in the east of Wildstrubel, 2507m is an excellently managed hut of SAC-section Angenstein accommodating climbers and hikers. The starting point for Lenker Strubel and Wildstrubel-traverse to Engstligenalp. Opened during the ski-touring season in spring and summer.

Not only is it an excellent base for climbing Wildstrubel, but it provides a comfortable night of sleep for those who wish to hike. From the hut, you get splendid views of Wildstrubel.

The Wildstrubel mountain hut is 2793 meters above sea level, though it bears the call of the mountain range, it isn’t truly at the Wildstrubel, but between the Weisshorn and a mountain called the Rohrbachstein. Many hikers carry on for the next day, together with the Plaine Morte Glacier on their walk to the 3 peaks of the Wildstrubel.

The terrace of the Wildstrubel hut is the precise putting to calm down with a coffee and feel the colorful night spectacle – the sunset. It looks like someone emptied pots of paint all around the sky. Intense reds and yellows shimmering over the sea. The night time sky is sprinkled with stars, a sight so beautiful which you almost so amazing.

 

Climbing the Wildstrubel

In the west of the Bernese Oberland, the Wildstrubel massif offers lovely panoramas culminating at more than 3000m. Your itinerary will be a grand traverse from the west to the east, during which you can climb many summits accessible on skis. If you no mountaineering experience, you will need a guide from Lenk.

 

 

Best Time to Climb

Best time for ascending Wildstrubel is summer from June to August. Besides Wildstrubel is a worth-while object for ski-touring.

 

The Normal Route

Wildstrubel is an excellent ski mountain with many different ascents and descents. Many variations are possible.

The Ski Route East on Bern / Wallis (Valais) is one of the most accessible routes in the Alps. It can be reached from the south Valais using a cable car or from Leukerbad or Kandersteg – Schwarenbach. From Schwarenbach climb to the Daubensee, a mile long lake, full of ski tracks for cross-country skiers. From there a lift leads to the hotel.

The usual route may be easy, but the views from the summit are very rewarding. If you arrive on Gemmipass, climb the nearby Daubenhorn 2942 m. Gemmi pass offers a beautiful view of the Alps of Valais.

 

Route Description

Wildstrubel area can be reached from Bern, the capital of Switzerland in the north, by motorway to Spiez and following the highway to Frutigen. From Frutigen either to Adelboden or Kandersteg. Lenk on the north side of the mountains can be reached from Spiez, too. In the south Leukerbad or Crans Montana are starting points in the Wallis, both reached from the bottom of Rhone valley.

From Gemmi pass glide smoothly and fast to the east slope of the Wildstrubel. Now positioned the furs on your skis and climb up the couloir without delay leading straight to the Wildstrubel. Take the tracks from that hut which follows the left north side of the Wildstrubel glacier. At ca. 3000 m you can pick which of the 3 peaks you need to climb.

Descent the identical way, but at 2500 m preserve left to the Laemmern hut. Enter the Laemmerental that leads as much as a saddle at 2900 m. This route is renowned under the name of Roter Totz. The descent follows the Ueschinen valley and ends near Kandersteg at 1200 m.

 

Hiking Routes near Wildstrubel

Wildstrubel is undoubtedly one of the best regions to go walking in Europe It offers many beautiful places to base yourself for a trekking holiday in Bernese Oberland, along with the pretty villages of Kandersteg, Adelboden, and Lenk.

The scenery is not just out of this world, however it additionally offers access of entry to an extensive network of trails, both calm valley walks, and cable vehicle-accessed great routes. Exploring the mountain provides a host of glacial features which characterize this region, genuinely are a hiker’s dream.

 

Kandersteg & Kandertal Valley

A famous hiking paradise with an outstanding network of trails from high alpine to family-friendly and excellent transport links with a wide variety of accommodation options. It offers easy access to idyllic Lake Öschinen and the beautiful deep blue Lake.

Gstaad-Saanenland

Gstaad, at an altitude of 1,050m (3,445ft), is surrounded by beautiful scenery, high society and shopping in Gstaad, but also idyllic villages and 300km (186mi) of hiking trails in Saanenland. Discover the picture-perfect Lake Lauensee and the fairytale mountain village of Abländschen and even Whitewater rafting on the River Saane!

Interlaken

Bustling Interlaken is located between Lakes Thun and Brienz, the snow-capped peaks of the mighty Eiger, Mönch, and Interlaken offers access to a vast variety of hiking trails (500km / 311mi). Take advantage of the extensive rail, bus, boat, and cable-car network. The starting point of the world-famous Jungfrau Railway.

Lenk-Simmental

Some of the very excellent of Swiss alpine wonderland, the Simmen Valley offers an remarkable 600km of hiking trails, which are no doubt the key point of this location. Lenk at 1,068m / 3,504ft, has been awarded the ‘Swiss Families Welcome’ quality mark. The Wildstrubel chain (Mt. Wildstrubel 3,243m / 10,640ft) divides the Valais (Wallis) and the Bernese Oberland.

Things to Do In the Wildstrubel Region

With its numerous mountain transport facilities, growing number of wellness havens and family-friendly attitude, the idyllic chalet village at the foot of the Wildstrubel in summer and winter is among the most versatile holiday destinations in the Bernese Oberland.

In addition to hiking, the Wildstrubel is the ideal place to enjoy other outdoor activities, including swimming, mountain biking, and cycling.

Hike the icy natural landscape of Wildstrubel, while Leukerbad also has excellent tails during the spring and autumn seasons, hiking it during the winter months is also quite an experience. At this time, you will get to experience the snowy fairytale landscape of Switzerland. Mountain guides are available all throughout Leukerbad to guide you through the icy terrain.

Also, you can take a thermal bath in the largest thermal spa resort in the Alps. Leukerbad as a whole is considered the largest thermal spa resort in the Alps, whether you’re coming here for therapeutic purposes or relaxing.

You should, by all means, try the cable car or adventure sports at Torrent. Take the cable car which goes up to 2,313 meters (7,589 feet) above sea level. From there, you can catch a beautiful view. It’s also excellent for trekkers, skiers, and mountain bikers who want a little bit of a lift going up before they take the slide down.

 

Hiking with Kids near Wildstrubel

If you searching for a calm experience for hiking with children, then the southern and western region of the Bernese Oberland offer magnificent trekking experience. Spending your holiday in Wildstrubel with small children? There are some excellent round-trip hike suitable for those who wish to get some superb scenery. Bernese Oberland makes it ideal for families with children to enjoy the magnificent and breathtaking views on Wildstrubel.

 

Wildstrubel is undoubtedly one of the best regions to go walking in Europe with the most incredible panoramic views and gorgeous mountain surrounded by impressive rock walls. Not only is the scenery out of this glob, however there are many trails to pick. A strolling holiday within the Bernese Oberland gives something fantastic and exciting to discover at each flip. The region is dominated with the aid of the astounding Jungfrau Mountains and the glowing lakes of Thun and Brienz.

A captivating geological vicinity with amazing vegetation and fauna. The spring brings swathes of colour in alpine vegetation and butterflies; autumn is not any less colourful as the foliage changes, however in winter the landscape is beautifully carpeted in glistening snow.

 

Dufourspitze 4634m

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Dufourspitze

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Dufourspitze 45.937000, 7.867600

Dufourspitze is the highest mountain peak (4634m) in the Pennine Alps of Switzerland. The summit of this mountain lies in the massif of Monte Rosa which has about ten summits that are over 4,000 meters. However, there is some discussion about that, depending how you count them. Of them all, Dufourspitze is the highest peak.

Where

The summit peaks stretch to form a giant arc that proceeds from the southern region of France while passing through Switzerland and then proceeding to Austria. Here the peaks pass through the Dolomites in the northeastern region of Italy as well as the Julian Alps of Slovenia.

The highest summit of all the 76 is of course the Mont Blanc lying between the French and Italian border with a height of 4807M. On the Monte Rosa, the Dufourspitze is the highest summit with an altitude of 4634M although in the Alps generally, it is ranked as the second highest.

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Places to stay

The Dufourspitze is located near the village of Zermatt in Switzerland. Zermatt has a wide variety of places that you can stay during your tour. This ranges from hotel suits, campsites, mountain huts, chalets, youth hostels as well as the bed and breakfast hotels. All these places offer the best accommodation services to suit your budget plans.

  1. Hotels in Zermatt

Zermatt offers some of the best awe-inspiring sceneries. For that reason, a one day trip is never enough to the Zermatt. Some of the best hotels where you can unpack your bags include;

  1. Hotel Bellerive

This is a chic as well as a very charming hotel located in the central region of Zermatt. It is right next to the cable cars and its offers exemplary décor, opulent furnishings as well as modern furnished and accessorised rooms.

The room brings in that feeling of a luxury considering that they offer a private bathtub and the Mountain View. This is just the place to be if you also love the Bar lounges that come with complementary fire sitting places. The hotel also offers the spa and sauna baths after your long hiking days.

  1. Hotel Firefly

This Firefly hotel is located at the foot of Matterhorn. It has 15 suites which are all themed out by diverse elements. It features the modern alpine feel, heavy on leather décor as well as open fires. All the suites in this hotel have amazing views and complementary kitchens.

  1. Hotel Welschen

This is a charming hotel that comes with that rustic and chalet style. From this hotel, you have easy and fast access to the centre of the town within a short period. More to that, you can also access the Sunnegga lift. Here 16 rooms available go for up to $120 per night. This guarantees you a good stay during your trip to the Dufourspitze Mountain Peak.

Mountain Huts

The huts are a favourite among most of the tourists who come to this region. There are a few huts that you may consider for a better touring experience

 

Monte Rosa Hut

This hut is a modern looking one, and it is one of the most famous accommodations as mountain cabin go in the region. Most of the mountaineers who set out on hikes to the Dufourspitze using the normal route prefer to unpack here. The cabin comes in an innovative style that integrates thermal solar collectors and solar panels to accumulate enough energy.

This makes the hut sustainable, hence its popularity among most of the hikers. With the glaciated terrain in this region, you may need a guide advisory to reach the cabin safely.

Margherita Hut

This is the highest mountain hut in the Alps region. To get to this hut, you must have exclusive mountaineering skills. This Margherita hut is located at an altitude of 4554 meters. It stands entirely on Italian ground. The only access is always on foot with a two-day straight climbing. 

Gnifetti Hut

The hut is found on the Italian region of Monte Rosa. It sits at an altitude of 3647 meters. The hut is an excellent choice for those climbers who are looking forward to exploring a number of peaks at Monte Rosa mastiff. Inclusive is the Dufourspitze Mountain Peak through the Italian route. As long as the hikers have steady feet, the can manage the Rifugio since there are no glaciers on the way.

Chalets

When picking out the location to unpack your bags, it needs some hard thinking. The town is very spread out, and there is a whole lot of options that you could consider. Some lovely chalets can be suitable for you too in this location. Some of the best in the region include;

 

Cervo

This Chalet comes in a modern Swiss style which is themed out in deer designs. From the hotel, you can access the Sunnega tunnel elevators easily. The rooms here are spacious and offer at least 5 to 6 chalets which are complemented with sauna baths, steam rooms as well as outdoor hot bathtubs.

Youth hotel

During such vacations, you may be accompanied by your better half. With such a person as part of your trip, you may need a place that offers ultimate privacy and comfort. Below are two places that you would like to consider;

The Unique Hotel Post

This is a high-end hotel that has the sleek modern feeling. The hotel has 29 rooms that are located in the central region of Zermatt. This comfortable and outstanding hotel has open fires, spa as well as luxurious bathrooms.

Hotel Juen

This is an influential family run hotel that has a wide variety of personalities. It has 32 large rooms and suites that have all the romantic details that you would be looking for when out there on your vacation. The interior décor features plenty of wood, antlers and sheepskins. The restaurant and bar, swimming pool and gym is a bonus to you.

Hiking routes with views of the Dufourspitze

3600 Loop Gornergrat

The Gornergrat is among the top excursions in Switzerland with some good reasons. The course is circular. The sight of this hiking routes lets you feel the magic of Gornegrat. Not to mention the breath-taking scenery that will warm your heart out. The Loop Gornergrat is indeed a memorable place.

Before you enter the Monte Rosa, the glacier which happens to be the second highest in the Alps, Dufourspitze and another panorama with over 20 mountains are quite close to each other. Their closeness will allow you to have one of the best hiking views of all time. With a bit of luck, you may get the chance to see some of the wild ibex found in the area.

5-Seenweg

If you are in search of some swimming activities, this might be the best route for you. The 5-Seenweg (Five Lakes Walk) is one of the best views in the Zermatt region. It has a fantastic panorama of the lakes which I must admit are superb and has a variety in its trail.

When you are planning one of those hiking trips with your kids, and they love swimming, this can be the route for you. The Leisee has outstanding calm water that is perfect for swimming, especially for kids.  The Grunsee lake looks more rugged landscape compared to the Leisee.  The shores of the Grindjisee is home to some of the rare flowers. More to that, each of these lakes is home to a beautiful view of the Mountain Peak. You will never lack an experience to remember the mountain peak.

Abenteuerweg

This steep trail will give you an eye-catching view of both sides of the Alpine panorama. If you are in love with mountaineering and trekking, you will feel at home with this route. This route has a steep descent hence you will end up with a challenging climbing experience.

This route offers a thrilling hike experience that will never disappoint. From the top of this route, you will be able to see some of the best views of the dramatic peaks. Take your climbing gear and start booking your way to Abenteuerweg.

Bike-tour

Every tourist will have a different way to enjoy their stay at the Zermatt peaks. Some prefer mountain climbing while others just a simple walk around will do the trick. The cyclers also will never lack an opportunity to experiment their mountain biking skills. That is why this route might serve them right.

The downhill road from the Blauherd station to the Zermatt offers an incredible cycling venue that will surely warm the heart of any bike lover. More to that, the lake view is quite spectacular hence you are sure of a serene feeling while you are enjoying your hobby.

The Sunnega is also another attraction site that will capture your attention.

Activities you can engage in while taking a tour of the Dufourspitze

Well, the region has lots of events so you will never lack something to do. All in all, I will break down a few fun stuff that is a must do if you want to make your stay memorable.

Let’s start with the basics. You’ve naturally fallen in love with mountain peaks, so start with a sightseeing expedition of the mountain peak. You can choose to take a helicopter which needs a bigger budget. However, there are also other options you can choose.

From the above-touring routes, you can pick one and get the right guide to take you through a mountain climbing experience. You can also do rock climbing which requires expertise and at least prior experience in the field.

One of my most preferred activity is merely trekking to some of the best viewpoints, for instance, the 360 degrees loop has a fantastic view of the area. A walk around will always give you a calmer feeling and is quite pocket-friendly.

The activities present in this area do not end there. You can also opt for snowshoeing. You can decide to take your skiing skills for a test run in the forest. The course is rated medium difficulty which will require at least some moves from you. The best part is that, if there is a bit of snow, the forest will give you a fantastic view that you will fall in love with instantly.

If you are lucky enough, you will get the chance to see a deer or squirrel which are some of the wildlife found in this area. You can also go for a bird watching experience through this forest. The forest is covered with a vegetation cover that larch branches at the beginning of winter.

Some tourists prefer snowboarding which will work well with the steep slopes of this mountain. You will have to find something that works best for you.

More to that, bike lovers will always have an opportunity to experiment the toughness of the mountains. Mountain cycling is quite the eye catcher, and most hotels offer rental bikes to their customers.

You can also opt for paragliding if you are into extreme sports. Paragliding kits are offered at a considerable amount by most travel agencies around the areas or different hotels. You will have to book earlier.

The best part is that the mountains offer the perfect setting for family holiday camping experiences. There is more than enough space hence you won’t have to struggle with other tourists to get the right camping spot.

Only pack your gear, and you are good to go. You will, however, need someone to guide you on some of the best places to set up camp and enjoy a beautiful picnic with your family.

Dufourspitze summit offers some of the best spots for bungee jumping and kayaking activities. If you have kids, you can choose to take them to some of the amusement parks, so they get the chance to mingle with the natives.

With all the above tasks for you to consider, I’m sure you will have to stay longer than you imagined. Make a simple list so that you don’t end up forgetting any activity.   There is also a Hospital close by so you won’t have to worry about getting sick.

Wildlife

The area is full of different animals, for instance, the squirrels, deer and wild ibex. You will have to be lucky just to get a glimpse of the wildlife in this area.

Mont Blanc- the highest point in the Alps

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Mont Blanc

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Mont Blanc 45.832600, 6.865200

There are so many superlatives to use when describing the Mont Blanc. The snow-covered dome of the Mont Blanc has always intrigued adventurers and its first ascent was followed shortly thereafter by the birth of the mountaineering sport. As a result, the villages of Chamonix and Courmayeur received a tourism boom still profit from itto this day.

About the Mont Blanc

Reaching 4810 meters of altitude, the Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and in Western Europe. Yes, we do say Western Europe since Mount Elbrus in the Kaukasus region in Russia is considered the highest peak in Europe—a fact questioned by the people of Chamonix as they consider the Elbrus to be in Asia. The Mont Blanc is part of massif which contains many peaks including Aiguille du Midi, Grandes Jorasses and Dent de Géant.

The peak is located on the border of France and Italy, although the normal route is the Gouter Route which starts at the French side of the mountain. Despite being the highest mountain in the Alps, the Mont Blanc is technically not that difficult and is rated PD. However, climbing it should not be underestimated as the route traverses crevasses and requires a basic knowledge of alpine mountaineering. Mont Blanc is one of the mountains with the highest number of deaths. Every year, several climbers die on the Mont Blanc massif.

The summit was reached for the first time on August 8th, 1786 by two local people of Chamonix: Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard. Due to this feat, they could claim the price that Horace-Bénédict de Saussure had promised.

Accommodations around the Mont Blanc

Both Chamonix and Courmayeur are great places to stay to explore the region around Mont Blanc, with Chamonix in France being the best, if you are looking for a fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel Mercure Chamonix les Bossons, a 4-star contemporary chalet atmosphere at the foot of the Bossons and Taconnaz glaciers, close to the Aiguille du Midi cable car and the Mer de Glace train. Relaxation is guaranteed in the wellness area with sauna, indoor pool, whirlpool bath and a view of Mont Blanc.

Le Refuge des Aiglons, this 4 star establishment, resolutely contemporary, in the heart of Chamonix gets a makeover before the winter.

Hotel Le Morgane, a 4-star hotel with the sporty atmosphere of Chamonix. The style and concept of the Morgane stand out from the traditional Alpine hotels.

Chamonix

Chamonix
Chamonix, Photo by Matthew Roberts

The valley in the Haute Savoie is one of the top destinations in the French Alps for hiking, paragliding, biking, and as a starting base for an ascent of the Mont Blanc. The reputation of this large village mainly comes from the first ascent in 1786. This was the birth of mountaineering as we know it today. The main street of the village is full of bars, restaurants, and outdoor shops offering the best gear for your hiking or climbing adventure. Accommodations in Chamonix are – as you can expect – pricey. The high number of campsites offer a budget alternative but for thoselooking for a cheaper place to stay; the neighboring villages of Argentière and Les Houches is your best choice.

Courmayeur

Courmayeur
Courmayeur, Photo by Franco_F_a

Courmayeur is to Italy what Chamonix is to France. It is the base for Mont Blanc ascents on the Italian side of the massif. The village is situated at the end of the Aosta Valley, near the entrance of the Mont Blanc tunnel. Views on the Mont Blanc are more impressive from Courmayer due to the steeper Italian face. Accommodations are similar to those in Chamonix.

Refuge de Plan Glacier

Refuge de Plan Glacier
Refuge de Plan Glacier

Tel: +33 782 753 686

An old style mountain hut, simple and authentic at 2700m, in Saint Gervais Les Bains: Plan Glacier sits on the moraine of the glacier, facing the Dômes de Miage.

The hike is demanding but outstanding, as it starts in the forest, climbs through green pastures and ends in High Mountain atmosphere.

The tiny hut allows warm welcoming by the guardians Annabelle & Yann, whose cuisine will reward your walk.

Refuge des Cosmiques

The Refuge des Cosmiques is located on the shoulder between Col du Midi and the southwest ridge of Aiguille du Midi. This makes it the the second highest mountain refuge in the French Alps. It is located at an altitude of 3593 meters and is often used as a starting base for Mont Blanc ascents (Three Monts route) . The hut has about 140 beds costing 42 euro (breakfast included) to 66 euro (half pension).

Gouter Hut

Mountain hut - Gouter Hut The Gouter Hut is a mountain refuge located on the normal climbing route to the summit of Mont Blanc. In 2013, the old Gouter Hut was replaced by a new, more modern-looking building thatopened that same year. It is the highest refuge on the trail and offers a great alternative for the Tete Rousse hut, situated a few hundred meters lower. The Gouter Hut has 120 beds available for mountaineers.

Refuge du Lac Bleu

This mountain hut can be found in the heart of the Aiguille Rouges mountain range close to Lac Bleu, a popular hiking destination. This makes the refuge a popular lunch stopover during a hike to Lac Bleu. Besides lunchtime meals, the 2352-meter high mountain hut can accommodate up to 40 people. It can easily be reached from the Plan d’Aiguille cable car station.

Bellachat Refuge

Mountain Hut - Bellachat RefugeThe Bellachat Refuge is a very basic mountain cabin at 2152 meters of altitude. There are no hot showers and the only restroom is an outside toilet. The three dormitories available for overnights are side by side, and you should bring your own sheets. Still, the Bellachat refuge is a popular place to visit due to its exceptional views of the Mont Blanc. The sunny terrace is a great place for a lunch stop. Lunch includes typical alpine food such as homemade soups, salads, local cheeses, meat and blueberry tarts.

Hiking in the Region of Mont Blanc

Grand Balcon Nord to Montenvers

The hike starts from the Plan d’Aiguille cable car station and leads via the Grand Balcon Nord to Montenvers near Mer de Glace. Most people hike the trail oneway before returning with the Montenvers scenic train to Chamonix station. The hike takes about 2.5 hours and is a great way to admire the impressive mountain ranges of the Chamonix Aiguilles and Mont Blanc.

Lac Bleu trail

Views on the Mont Blanc massif from Lac Blue can be found on many postcards in the village streets. Needless to say, Lac Bleu is a popular hiking destination amongst active travelers. The lake itself is not big nor impressive, but this is the way to it; and the views on the nearby Mont Blanc makeit worthwhile. Hiking from the Plan d’Aiguille cable car station requires only a 15-minute walk, making it an option for families with children.

Hike to Refuge des Grands Mulets

Another – though more challenging – hike from Plan d’Aiguille is the 3.5 hours hike to Refuge des Grands Mulets. The hut is located just above 3000 meters,requiring a big ascent and a glacier crossing. It is a popular route in winter for ski descents from Mont Blanc.

Lac Noir

Lac Noir
Lac Noir, Photo by Philippe Saire

The other side of the valley offers splendid views on Aguille du Midi and Mont Blanc. The hike to Lac Noir (2540m) is not an easy one, but has great rewards. From Col Cornu, you head towards Col de Gliere via a marked path. To complete the trail, it requires about 2hours 30minutes from PlanPraz. The lake is a beautiful but not a crowded picnic setting since it’s often partially covered in snow and ice.

Tour du Mont Blanc

The tour du Mont Blanc is a multi-day hike often completed in ten days. This is one of the best options for experienced hikers with enough time on their hands. It is regarded as one of the best hikes in Europe. The trail contours the Mont Blanc massif and crosses three countries: France, Switzerland and Italy. Nights are spend in mountain huts or accommodations in the valleys. The many different angles of Mont Blanc make it a hike with diverse views.

Things to do in the Mont Blanc region

The cable car leading to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi is without doubt the top tourist attraction in Chamonix. Return tickets cost about 58 euros. From this point, you can take an elevator that goes through the rocks of the peak to a viewing platform, some 42meters higher, where you get to see Mont Blanc up close. On clear days, views on the Grand Combin and the Monte Rosa are no exception. The restaurant is a great place to have lunch before taking the Panoramic Mont Blanc tramway to Hellbronner on the Italian side of the massif. This way, you can descend all the way to Courmayeur.

Another main tourist attraction is the Mer the Glace train to Montenvers. This train departs from the Chamonix train station and leads to the famous Mer de Glace, a glacier between Aiguille du Midi and Les Drus that used to reach all the way to the valley base.

Hiking with kids

Hiking with children in the French Alps may seem difficult due to the altitude difference; however,quite a few trails are suitable for families. Fortunately cable cars will help you gain most of the elevation without too much effort. For this reason, the Lac Bleu hike is well worth mentioning, since it only requires 15 minutes to reach from the cable car station. Whether you want to add more kilometers / hiking hours is up to you.

Lac Blanc is a 2-hour easy hike from the Flegere lift station. The nearby Lac Blanc hut offers facilities and refreshments well earned.

Weissmies – Prominent Peak Surrounded by the Saas Valley

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Weissmies

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Weissmies 46.127700, 8.012000

Weissmies is close to Saas Valley, an important winter sport region well-visited by travelers. The many cable cars make it easy for active travelers to reach higher altitudes without much effort. It’s only one of the reasons why this region has attracted hikers for several decades.

About the Weissmies

With an altitude of 4017, the Weissmies is onthe list of 82 mountains reaching above 4000 meters. It is often set as a mountaineering goal by climbers as the ascent has little technical difficulty. The normal route is graded PD, making it an easy climb. The normal route starts near the cable car station Hohsaas (3140m) over the glacier and is relatively easy for experienced mountaineers. The mountain was first climbed in 1855 by Jacob Christian Häuser and Peter Josef Zurbriggen.

The Weissmies is located in the eastern part of the Wallis region, close to the Italian border. Together with neighboring peaks, Lagginhorn (4010m) and Fletschhorn (3993m) (4023m), it is part of a massif between the Saas valley and the Simplon pass.

From the summit, it is possible to see Lago Maggioreon a clear day, as well as many other mountain massifs in the Alps. Some even claim that it is possible to see the Dom of Milan with a pair of binoculars.

Accommodations in the Region of Weissmies

Saas Valley

Saas Valley
Saas Valley, Photo by James Billings

The Saas valley is described as a hospitable place in the Alps, with plenty of snow in the winter season and a diverse range of activities in the summer. Besides a wide variety of hotels and accommodations, there are a few campsites to be found in the valley. Camping Mischabel is located 15 minutes from the village center in an idyllic setting. Views of the Mischabel group, with the Dom (4545m) as the highest on Swiss terrain, offer plenty of inspiration for hiking and climbing. Camping Schönblick is another option nearby affording the opportunity of renting a caravan.

Saas Fee is a place worth recommending if you are looking for spa treatments. There are a few luxury hotels in town as well. If you prefera visit to the Alps without giving up luxury, consider staying at Art Hotel, FerienArt Resort or Hotel Schweizerhof, some of the best in the region.

Simplon Area

The municipality of Simplon is located in the Brig district, on the south side of the Simplon Pass near the Italian border. It consists of the village of Simplon and the hamlets of Gabi, Egga and Maschihüs as well as the Hospice in the Simplon Pass. However, despite being smaller than the Saas Valley, there are still plenty of accommodation options to spend a holiday here, if you are looking for a fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel-Restaurant Grina is a personally run family business and enjoys a central yet quiet location in the charming, rustic Simplon village. The Grina has 13 inviting, quiet non-smoking rooms, all with shower / bath / WC, some with balcony. The cozy restaurant with 50 seats on the first floor and the 40-seat restaurant with bar on the ground floor invite you to eat and drink.

Hotel Walliserhof, located only 150 m from the ski lifts to Hannigalp. You will enjoy Swiss kitchen in themed restaurants, free Wi-Fi in themed rooms and warm Swiss hospitality throughout hotel.

Hotel Portjengrat, located in the heart of Saas-Almagell. Surrounded by numerous four-thousand-meter peaks, you can spend your holidays close to nature and actively in a stylish, cozy ambience.

Weissmies Hut

Mountain hut - Weissmies HutThe Weissmies Hut (2,726 m) is a mountain hut above Saas Grund in the Pennine Alps in the canton of Valais, Switzerland. There are actually two huts: a smallish old one and a reasonably large and modern one, situated 2 km west of the Lagginjoch below the frontal moraines of the glacier forming the flank of the col on this side. The hut warden is Arthur Anthamatten. The location is often a starting point for ascents of Weissmies, Lagginhorn and Fletschhorn and it can accommodate up to 150 people. To reach the hut from Saas Grund, it takes about 3 hours, or 1 hour if you use the cable car to Chrizbode.

Hohsaas Hut

Mountain hut - Hohsaas Hut

Close to the Weissmies Hut, you will find the Hohsaas Hut, only a 30 minute walk. Although it started life as a traditional mountain hut, over the years, it was converted into a modern mountain restaurant (2006). Signature cheeses and excellent local wines are some of the Swiss specialties served here, and the welcoming atmosphere at 3200 above sea level makes lunch or dinner an experience never to forget. Besides being a restaurant serving traditional dishes, it is still possible to book a cozy room here.

Brittannia Hut

Mountain hut - Brittannia HutThe Britannia Hut at 3030meters above sea level is one of the most-booked SAC huts and marks the start of the legendary Haute Route. In 1997, it was fully renovated and now offers 134 comfortable beds, three dining rooms, and modern bathrooms. Solar energy delivers the power for the lighting and phones, and the hut collects snowmelt and rain. Saving the environment is a priority when it comes to waste disposal: rubbish is separated and flown down to the valley by helicopter along with waste water.

Hiking in the Region of the Weissmies

Unter dem Berg – Saas Fee

This hike from Unter Dem Berg to Saas Fee passes along three churches and 16 chapels and let’s you experience alpine nature at its best. Completing the trail takes about 2hours 40 minutes with only a little altitude difference gained (400m).

Hiking in the Furggtälli

Furggtälli
Furggtälli, Photo by Sander Vancanneyt

A more challenging trail is the hike to the Furgtälli, through the forests. The trail leads you to the Antrona Pass where you can extend your hike by taking a longer and higher path. However, the route into the valley is more advisable and will take about 3hours 30 minutes to complete. The altitude difference is around 600 meters.

Gspon – Saas Grund

The hike connecting Gspon to Saas Grund is an all-time favorite among those who know the area well. It is part of the “Great Walser Trail” which traces the historic west-east migration pattern of the Walser. High above the gorge that houses the babbling Saaser Vispa, the trail is mostly just above the treeline. Because of this, it offers wonderful views of the glaciers of the mighty Mischabel range. Walking time: 4hours 10 minutes. Altitude difference: 430m ascent and 770m descent.

Grachen to Saas Fee

Saas Fee
Saas Fee, Photo by Neil Gregory

The Saas Fee Hohenweg is one of the great hikes in the Valais. This challenging trail follows a high route along the west side of the Saastal with stunning views of the peaks towering above the Saas Valley and the Bernese Alps to the north. The trail is about 15 km long and makes a great day hike.

Hohenweg Kreuzboden

This scenic walk, with panoramic views of the Mischabel Range, traverses high above the east side of the Saas Valley before entering the beautiful Almageller Valley. You can end the hike by descending to Saas Almagell or taking the challenging Adventure Trail to Furggstalden.

Things to do in the Weissmies region

Saas Fee is often described as the Pearl of the Alps, and this has more to do than with the hiking options. On the peak of Mittelallalin, you will find the world’s biggest ice grotto. This ice cave is accessible by cable car year-round. After your visit,have a drink or something to eat in the world’s highest revolving restaurant, ThreeSixty, where stunning 360-degree panoramic views are paired with delicious meals.

The Saaser Museum is a good option for a rainy day or when you want to take a break from hiking. It features a typical apartment from the turn of the 20th century, folklore items, and traditional costumes of the region.

When all that hiking has made your legs sore, a relaxing day at a spa might be just what you need. There are five day spas in Saas-Fee alone, and even more further down in the valley.

Hiking with kids

The Weissmies region has options for little hikers as well. From Hohsaas, you can take the cable car up to the glacier to hike the 18 4,000-meter peak theme trail with your kids. Although it might seem a little bit challenging at first for children, the trail gets easier, isn’t too long, and is well worth it.

At Kreuzboden, the middle station to Hohsaas, you will find a big playground for children and a short sensory trail quite doable for them.

Weisshorn – One of the many 4000 meter peaks in the Mattertal

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Weisshorn

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Weisshorn 46.101300, 7.716200

The Weisshorn is a very recognizable peak and one of the secret stars around the mountaineering village of Zermatt. It is bordered by the Mattertal and the Turtmanntal in the north and Val d’Anniviers on the west.

About the Weisshorn

With neighboring peaks such as the Zinalrothorn, Dent Blanche and many other 4000-meter peaks around, the Weisshorn is in good company. Its symmetrical triangular shape offers a thrilling challenge for mountaineers. The views offered from its summit of peaks like Matterhorn, Dom and Monte Rosa come as a well-earned bonus.

The Weisshorn is surrounded by three valleys: Mattertal, Turtmanntal and Val d’Anniviers. It has an altitude of 4505 meters and was first ascended on August 19th, 1861 by John Tyndall, Johann Joseph Benet and Ulrich Wenger via the east ridge, now considered the normal route.

The Weisshorn might not be as popular as the Matterhorn, but it is a higher peak towering at 4505 meters. The ascent is slightly harder and longer than the Matterhorn ascend, andis of higher technical difficulty. The summit is often reached from the village of Randa via the Weisshorn Hut.

Accommodations near the Weisshorn

The Weisshorn is surrounded by three valleys: Mattertal, Turtmanntal and Val d’Anniviers, if you are looking for a fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Klein Matterhorn Hotel is a 2-star Gastro-Suisse certified hotel / restaurant and is located in Randa in a prime central location next to the train station.

Backstage Boutique Hotel, The hotel bears the signature of Heinz Julen and every piece of furniture is handmade in his studio in Zermatt. The six Cube lofts are lover pieces, the hip Deluxe and StandART double rooms are creations of contemporary architecture and art.

Hotel Phoenix, located in the Quartier Wiesti (near the cable car Sunnegga). In 7-8 minutes you reach the train station, the village center and the various sports facilities. The bus stop to the Klein Matterhornbahn is only 200 m away, the valley station Sunnegga-Rothorn Paradise can be reached in only 1-2 minutes on foot.

Mattertal

The Mattertal is a popular holiday region in the Swiss Alps as it is home to several iconic mountains such as the Weisshorn, the Mischabel group and, ofcourse, the Matterhorn. It provides several charming villages as a base for hiking holidays.

Zermatt

Zermatt
Zermatt, Photo by Pilar Azana Talan

Zermatt is a not-to-be-missed destination when it comes to visiting the Swiss Alps. One of the main reasons is the shadow of the Matterhorn hanging above the village center. Zermatt is to the Matterhorn what Chamonix is to Mont Blanc. The traffic-free center gives the village a charming atmosphere not often surpassed in the Alps. The center of Zermatt can be reached on foot or by taking the Glacier Express from the neighboring village of Täsh. There are plenty of options for accommodations, eventhough most hotels are quite pricy due to the location. Budget travelers may find alternative options at the nearby campsite, just outside the village center.

Val d’Anniviers

Val d’Anniviers is a valley in the Valais region characterized by a strong cultural history of alpine farming. The brown houses, barns and churches are the legacy of long-established traditions and crafts. The villages of Grimentz and Zinal are the biggest in this area.

Turtmanntal

Turtmanntal
Turtmanntal, Photo by Jean luc Baron

The Turtmanntal is only inhabited during the summer months as it is not accessible in winter. The forested valley is a protected natural area. Visitors often stay in Gruben which has a hotel, and is a great base for hiking in the surroundings of several 4000-meter peaks. A hike to Turtmann glacier of Turtmann hut takes about half a day, while crossing the Augustbordpass to the Mattertal is considered as a strenuous day hike.

Weisshorn Hut

Mountain hut - Weisshorn HutThis mountain hut is the desired starting location for climbing the Weisshorn. It is located at an altitude of 2932 meters and is best reached from Randa. Hiking from the valley to the hut takes about 4 to 5 hours. Its excellent location and panoramic view of 19 4000-meter peaks in the Valais region, make it a goal worth setting for hikers.

Schönbielhütte

Mountain hut - SchönbielhütteThe Schönbielhutte  is surrounded by some of the most mighty peaks in the Alps such as the Matterhorn, the Dent Blanche and the Obergabelhorn. It is a popular starting point for classic routes like the Tour du Ciel. From Schwarzsee, it takes about 2.5 hours to reach the hut, making for a splendid walk. The hut has 6 dormitories hosting 80 people maximum. Hikers often spend the night here to enjoy the beautiful sunset scenery and the delicious meals. They serve a mountaineer’s menu as well as Swiss cheese toast, rösti, etc. The rösti, prepared by the hostwith fresh potatoes, is a well- appreciated dish here.

Cabane de la Dent Blanche

The Cabane de la Dent Blanche is situated near the Ferbècle glacier at an altitude of 3507 meters. It is often used by mountaineers as a stayover for a summit bid of the Dent Blanche. To reach the cabane glacier, crossings are involved and experienceis required. From Ferpècle, at about 1700 meters of altitude,reaching the hut necessitates an early start. The hut is owned by Marlyse Vuadens and has 45 beds. When planning to spend the night here, reservations might be a good idea. Half-board accommodations costs about 42CHF.

Cabane de Moiry

Cabane de Moiry

One of my favorite mountain cabins is the Cabane de Moiry, located above the Moiry glacier. Renovated to high standards, this is one of the finest huts to visit. From Zinal, the trail leads along the Haute Route, a 200-kilometer trek from Chamonix to Zermatt. The hut has a large dining area with panoramic windows offering views of the Moiry Glacier. On some occasions, you can see experienced mountaineers crossing it. Spending the night here costs 38 CHF (meals excluded). It is reached in 1hour 30 minutes from the end of the road of the dam of Moiry. The trail is alpine, steep in places, and we recommend the use of good walking equipment and a rope for children and those not used the most delicate passages. Snow may cover parts of the trail until late in the season, sometimes even in late July or early August.

Hiking in the Region of the Weisshorn

Flower walk

If you enjoy walking through alpine meadows, this short day hike is for you. The walk is about a 3-hour round trip from Blauherd to Tuftern back to Sunnega. Along the way, you will see some rare alpine flora including edelweiss. The hike offers views of the Weisshorn as well.

Best season: June to September

Marmot Trail

The alps are home to ibex, chamois and…marmots. The 3-hour walk from Blauherd to Sunnegga takes you past several information boards and observation points giving you glimpses of the area where the marmot lives. They are often seen in this region. Can you spot one?

Best season: June to September

Hike to Weisshorn Hut

Since most travelers stay in Zermatt, a train ride to Randa is the best option to start your hike. From Randa it takes about 4-5 hours to reach the Weisshorn Hut. Because of the elevation difference, the trail is considered to be demanding, although the views from the mountain refuge make the effort wellworth it.

Rotenboden – Riffelberg

Rotenboden
Rotenboden, Photo by Andreas Mordhorst

This trail provides winter options. The wow factor is huge on this hike as a view of the Matterhorn against a blue winter sky is a unique experience. Besides the Matterhorn, other 4000-meter peaks can be enjoyed as well, including the Dent Blanche. The trail is suitable for families with children as there are options to pull your kids on a sled.

Cabane de la Dent Blanche

The Cabane de la Dent Blanche is situated near the Ferbècle glacier at an altitude of 3507 meters. It is often used by mountaineers as a stayover for a summit bid of the Dent Blanche. To reach the cabane glacier, crossings are involved and experienceis required. From Ferpècle, at about 1700 meters of altitude,reaching the hut necessitates an early start. It is owned by Marlyse Vuadens and has 45 beds. When planning to spend the night, reservations are a good idea. Half-board accommodations costs about 42CHF.

Zinal glacier

If regular hiking is too routine for you, the hike to Zinal Glacier might offer a new dimension. However, this hike is available in winter season only as it requires snow shoes. Guides take you up to the glacier located above the village of Zinal, and best of all, inside the icy world of a crevassed glacier. Duration: 2 hours.

Historic Trail of Zinal

For those who wish to combine hiking with learning about the local culture, the historic trail of Zinal is a good option. This educational trail will take you along 17 information boards that will give you good insight into the history of the small town and region. Be sure to visit the tourist information center first as you will be given a book that provides additional information.

Things to do in the Weisshorn Region

The Alps offer some of the best hiking locations and the Mattertal is no exception. Views of the majestic peak during one of your hikes surpasses those you get from the village of Zermatt as the angle is much better higher up the valley flanks. The cable car leading to Schwarzsee, Trockener Steg and Klein Matterhorn makes the ascent easier for those who want to shorten their hike. Also, with over 100 kilometers of biking trails reaching 1,400 to 3,100 meters of altitude, the region around Zermat offers a unique mountainbiking experience suitable for all levels.

Afterwards, be sure to enjoy a delicious cheese fondue or raclette in one of the fine restaurants in the center of Zermatt. Those who wish to learn more about the Matterhorn can visit the Matterhorn museum on their rest day.

The copper mine, La Lee, in Zinal offers a entirely different experience in the Alps. Exploring the 500 meter trails inside the mountain is unique as it is the only mine accessible to the public. Looking for some Swiss history? The old farm in Zinal dates back to 1768 and has a historic cheese cellar with the traditional “fromage des mortes” (cheese of the death). Tours are possible.

Hiking with kids

The Animal Trail leading from Grimentz to St-Jean is one of the top picks when it comes to family hiking. During this short trek, you will get to know the alpine animals in a fun and educational way. The trail leads through the regional forests and affords several fun activities including recognizing animal footprints, recognizing silhouettes of animals, and answering riddles.

Finsteraarhorn – Challenging climb with quite a view

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Finsteraarhorn

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Finsteraarhorn 46.537100, 8.126400

Located close the the famous trio, Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch, the Finsteraarhorn is a great choice for views on some of the most iconic peaks in the Bernese Alps. But putting it in the shadow of these three mountains doesn’t do it any justice, as it is literaly the shadow hanging over these three peaks.

About the Finsteraarhorn

The Finsteraarhorn has an elevation of 4273 meters and is the highest mountain in the Bernese Oberland. The mountain probably was allegedly first ascended on August 16th, 1812 by Arnold Abbühl, Joseph Bortis and Alois Volker, although this has not been proven. The first recorded ascent was made by Jakob Leuthold and Johann Wahren in 1828. The normal route leads via Finsteraarhorn hut and takes about 5 hours.

Climbing the Finsteraarhorn

 The Finsteraarhorn is one of the most famous mountains of the Alps and is the tallest peak of the Berner Oberland. While it is not really difficult to climb because the trail isn’t steep, what makes it tiresome is the long walks you have to take traversing enormous plateaus with gigantic glaciers. Climbing with crampons on and think about endless sweating, non-stop searching for cracks, and some funky walking to get to the top. On average, it’ll take 6 hours to complete the climb. The final hour to the top, over the ridge, is quite exhaustive.

 

Best Time to Climb

You can best climb Finsteraarhorn during summer. During summer, there is less snow on the massive glaciers which makes the climb slightly easier. In spring though, you will still find yourself exposed to cracked layers of ice and even avalanches so make sure you bring the basic tools with you.

 

Normal Route

While there are lots of accommodations within the vicinity of the Finsteraarhorn, the normal route starts from the Finsteraarhorn Hut stretching all the way to the top of the 4273-meter mountain with large glaciers as your ultimate hurdles. The hut is a famous choice for climbers wanting to have an overnight stay before summiting the mountain. Plus, it gives them an awesome landscape at 3,048 meters high. In between, you will have to cross a large plateau, which takes up most of the time especially with the presence of ice.

 

Route Description

 Your starting point will be the Jungfraujoch where the fun begins too. From this point, you will descend to Aletschgletscher and then to the Konkordiaplatz. Here, you will cross a huge plateau with three gigantic glaciers that converge. Afterwards, you’ll turn east to climb the Grüneggfirn to the Grünhornlücke. It is then followed by long hours of traversing the glaciers, roughly around 6 hours, which can be really tiresome. However, when you reach the Finsteraarhorn Hut, you will be amazed by the panoramic view before you. On your way to the top, you will encounter similar icy parts except that they are now steeper.

Upon reaching the Hugisattel where you’ll be at a 4,100-meter altitude, you will have to change gears to prepare climbing up a rock ridge. From here, you will be left with the last 300-meter ascend to the summit. Once you are on top, you will certainly enjoy the view of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau trio. This gives you a perfect time to rest while revelling the breath-taking view and feeling your victory.

Accommodations in the Region of Finsteraarhorn

The proximity of the Eiger, Jungrau and Mönch makes this region a well-knownwintersport destination. The villages of Grindelwald and Wengen attract travelers from all over the world to its snowy slopes in winter and its hiking trails in summer, if you are looking for a fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel Spinne,  located in the heart of the glacier village of Grindelwald at the foot of the Eiger North Wall. The Spinne (Spider) is an ice field in the North Wall which, because of its permanent snow formation, resembles a spider.

Hotel Walser, located at the foot of the Alpine passes Nufenen, Grimsel & Furka ideal for your stopover on a motorcycle tour or a convertible ride over the Swiss passports.

Hotel Walliser Sonne, located at 1,350 meters above sea level on the edge of the authentic Swiss mountain village of Gluringen in the Canton of Valais, near the passes Nufenen, Grimsel, Furka and Gothard.

Grindelwald

Grindelwald
Grindelwald, Photo by Kay’s Kamera

Grindelwald is a village in the canton Bern located at the base of the Jungfrau. From the village center, one can take a train via Kleine Scheidegg to the railway station Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe. Not only is it a popular base for hikers, but climbers who have set their minds on the notorious Eiger North Face also start their quest here.

Grindelwald has several types of accommodations. Besides hotels, there is the option to spend your nights at one of the three campsites: camping Eigernordwand, camping Gletscherdorf or camping Holdrio.

Wengen

The village of Wengen is located in the canton, Bern, close to the border of Wallis. There are several hotels in the village and even a youth hostel. A train leading from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen continues its journey to Kleine Scheidegg. Here you can change trains that lead to Jungfraujoch. The traffic-free village center withits traditional charming wooden chalets makes for a perfect holiday setting.

Mönchsjoch hut

Mountain hut - Mönchsjoch hutThe Mönchsjoch hut is one of the highest mountain huts owned by the Swiss Alpine club. It is located at an elevation of 3658 meters and is often used for ascents of Jungfrau and Mönch. However, despite the altitude, the mountain hut is easily reachable due to the Jungfrau railway. From the highest station, a secured piste over the crevassed glacier makes it possible for hikers to reach. From the hut, one can view the Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps.

Konkordia Hut

Mountain hut - Konkordia HutThe Konkordia Hut is a mountain refuge in the canton of Valais, situated above Konkordiaplatz, where several glaciers meet in the Aletsch glacier system. It is located about 2850 meters above sea level, and its remote location makes it a long way from villages. The shortest way to reach the cabin is via the Jungfraujoch railway station (4 hours).

Finsteraarhornhütte

Few mountain huts have such an amazing setting as the Finsteraarhornhütte. The refuge allows visitors to enjoy splendid views typical of the Oberland region: huge glaciers and high mountain peaks. The hut is often reached by mountaineers looking for an overnight stay before summiting the Finsteraarhorn via the normal route. However, the location at 3048 meters of altitude, and the views that come along with it, make it a great goal for hikers as well.

Hiking in the Region of the Finsteraarhorn

Mountains like the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch make this a perfect setting for a hiking holiday. The charming villages of the Berner Oberland are a great starting point for day hikes or mult-day routes in the Finsteraarhorn region.

First to Bachalpsee

Bachalpsee
Bachalpsee, Photo by Timo Rusch

This easy trail is very popular amongst travelers as it delivers jaw-dropping views of alpine peaks and glaciers. The trail leading through meadows and alpine terrain has close to no elevation difference, so you can complete the hike in about 2 to 3 hours.

Murren to Grutschalp

Another popular day hike is the wooded stroll from the village Murren to Grutschalp,located high above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The route goes along the western plateau and crosses forests and grasslands, offering plenty of photo opportunities of the famous peaks in the region. The hike runs parallel to the railway between both villages, making it possible to continue your journey by train half-way.

Grosse Scheidegg to Meiringen

This hike leading through meadows and forests is a good option for hikers who need a bit of a challenge. The trail is more difficult than most options in the region as it gains about 1300 meters of altitude. Hiking time is about 4 hours, but be sure to provide lots of time as you will be stopping frequently to enjoy the views. The starting point is easily reachable by car or train from the village Grindewald.

Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg

Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen, Photo by yu yatshing

On this short and easy hike in the Lauterbrunnen valley, you will be granted an almost continuous view of the surrounding rock walls and pass by some beautiful waterfalls, including the famous Staubbacg-h Fall, situated just outside Lauterbrunnen.

Things to do in the Finsteraarhorn region

While hiking in this part of the Alps is an unforgettable experience, there are many other activities to fill your day. Whether your legs need a break or you just want to enjoy some alpine views without too much effort, the Jungfraujoch railway is a must when visiting the Jungfrau region. This scenic train journey brings you to the highest railway station in Europe (3454m). From this point, you get tremendous views of the neighbouring peaks of Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau. With a guarantee of snow and ice, a visit to the Top of Europe building is the ultimate activity during your stay in the Berner Oberland.

Just west of the saddle is the Sphinx station, one of the highest astronomical observatories in the world. The Top of Europe building a little higher up has several panoramic restaurants and hiking trails leading over the crevassed glacier to the Mönchsjoch Hut.

Along the way to the Top of Europe buildingis Kleine Scheidegg, another railway station at 2061m. It is situated directly at the base of the notorious Eiger North Face and the starting point of the Jungfraubahn.

The village of Interlaken, a short distance from Grindelwald, is the closest city to the Finsteraarhorn. The name is derived from the fact that two lakes, Brienzersee and Thunersee, are connected by the river Aare that flows through the city. Interlaken has a charming atmosphere. From its center, it’s possible to see the summit of the Jungfrau. The Höheweg, an avenue between both stations, affords great views of the peak.

Hiking with kids

Great views often come with great effort although it is not always the case. When traveling with children, families often look for hikes that don’t require too much exertion. But why give up on tremendous views? The hike to Cabane de Mönch might seem like a huge effort due to its location at 3650 meters, but the proximity of the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in the Alps, makes the hike an easy and short one (45minutes). It might well be the best option to combine amazing views of some notable peaks with a short trail leading to it.

Grand Combin – 4 peak that are well-worth the challenge

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Grand Combin

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Grand Combin 45.936900, 7.298900

The Grand Combin is a prominent mountain range located in the southwest of theValais region. It has four mountain peaks and is well-worth the challenge for hikers and mountaineers.

About the Grand Combin

Grand CombinWith several 4000 meter peaks, the Grand Combin has a real alpine character. Views are impressive no matter what face you are looking at. The Grand Combin is a mountain massif in the southwest of the Valais region consisting of four summits: Combin de Grafeneire (4314m), Combin de Valsorey (4184m), Aiguille du Croissant (4320m) and Combin de la Tsessette (4141m).

Trails to the summit are long and demanding while the route to the summit remains long. There are no easy routes leading to the highest point. The “easiest” route was the one used by the first summitters through the “Corridor”, but in the last few years it has become too dangerous and is no longer recommended. A better option would be the NW Face,technically a little more advanced, but has less exposure to icefall.

The first ascent took place in July 1859 by Charles Sainte-Claire Deville with Daniel, Emmanuel and  Gaspard Balleys, and with Basile Dorsaz.

Accommodations around the Grand Combin

The region of the Grand Combin is a paradise for hikers and experienced mountaineers. The massif is surrounded by two valleys and several mountain huts, if you are looking for a fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel Beau Sejour, located in Etroubles, one of the oldest and most beautiful medieval villages in Italy, also known for its “Open Air Museum”, halfway between the city of Aosta and the Gran San Bernardo, along the historic Via Francigena, connection between Canterbury and Rome.

Hotel Des Alpes, located at 1620 m high, surrounded by nature and ideal for relaxing and purifying stays, in one of the most evocative places of Valle d’Aosta.

Hôtel Forclaz Touring, located at the heart of the city Martigny. Visit and discover landscapes of Valais. It has complete amenities that offers excellent stay.

Grand Combin camping

The Grand Combin campsite is located in Valpelline, a small town in the Western Pennine Alps. Its total surface reaches over 3 hectares. It is full of green stretches/enclaves with wide and shady pitches/encampments.

Val d’Entremont

One of the most popular places in Val d’Entremont is the Great St Bernard Pass, a mountain pass connecting

Verbier

Martigny with Aosta and the wintersport destination, Verbier. This famous ski resort has a population of only 1800 inhabitants, but offers accommodation for 25,000 tourists year-round. Its splendid location with great skiing options makes it one of the most-traveled-to destinations in Switzerland during winter season.

Val de Bagnes

Val de Bagnes is connected to Val d’Entremont near Sembrancher. Though the views and alpine meadows are a terrific sight during summer season, it is not nearly as popular as Verbier.

Valsorey hut

Mountain hut - Valsorey HutThe Valsorey Hut is a mountain refuge owned by the Swiss Alpine Club, located at 3030 meters above sea level. It is situated on the southwestern slopes of the Grand Combin, the reason why it is often used as a starting place for a summit bid of the Grand Combin. The best way to reach the cabin is from Bourg-Saint-Pierre.

Cabane de Mont Fort

This mountain is located on the Haute route which leads walkers or skiers from Chamonix to Zermatt.The proximity of the lift system in Verbier Resort makes it a great spot for hikers and mountain bikers in summer and skiers and ski tourers in the winter months. Half board is available for 74 CHF per person per night or bed only is 34 CHF in the summer. During the winter the rates tend to be higher. Prices go up to 92 CHF half board and 52 CHF per person per night for a bed. Discounts are available for younger hikers and skiers or Alpine Club members.

Cabane FXB Panossière

Cabane FXB Panossière
Cabane FXB Panossière, Photo by Genyphyr Novak

Located at an altitude of 2,641 m in the heart of the Combins massif, the Cabane FXB Panossière is named after the famous helicopter pilot and founder of Air-Glaciers, François-Xavier Bagnoud. The refuge offers a panoramic stop on magnificent hikes such as the Tour des Combins, the Tour du Val de Bagnes and the Chemin des cols alpins.

Cabane de Louvie

Mountain Hut - Cabane de LouvieThe hut of Louvie was built in 1997 in its current location. It is the property of the Bourgeoisie de Bagnes, managed by Anne Gattoni for several years, and hosted from June until the end of September by Claudia Filliez. The hut can be the meeting place of Tour du Val de Bagnes, tour des Grands Barrages or Chamonix – Zermatt.

Cabane de Chanrion

Mountain Hut - Cabane de ChanrionThe hut Chanrion, situated in the massif of Combins at the end of Val de Bagnes,is happy to welcome active travelers seeking the charms of this region. Discover the wealth of the fauna and the flora, admire the tops of Combins, and make it a stopping place during your haute-route Chamonix-Zermatt or the Tour des Combins. In the middle of a wild and protected nature, the host waits for you with his typical dishes.

Hiking in the Region of the Grand Combin

Hikers can choose from a wide range of hikes, varying from short valley hikes to multi-day adventures.

Tour des Combins

The Tour des Combins is a 6-day hike circumnavigating the Grand Combin massif. During this adventure, you will hike in Swiss and Italian territory. The trail is often started in Bourg-Saint-Pierre, but you can embark the journey at every trail stop. It is a challenging trail suited for experienced hikers as it crosses five valleys between Switzerland and Italy.

Walkers Haute Route

The Walkers Haute Route is a contestant for being the best hike in the Alps. This two-week trek from Chamonix to Zermatt leads you along the most impressive peaks from the Mont Blanc massif to the notorious Matterhorn, along 4000-meter peaks such as Grand Combin, Weisshorn and the Dom. This trail originated from the Haute Route skitouring route often done in April. Despite the fact that the official start is in Chamonix, lots of hikers skip the prelude to Argentière and start their adventure farther.

The Chamois hike

The intriguing Haut Val de Bagnes nature preserve at La Chaux is probably the best place to observe the chamois, ibexes and marmots against the gorgeous backdrop of the Combins Massif. The trail starts at La Chaux and ends 14.3 kilometers later in Fionnay. Since you will be gaining about 602 meters and descend twice as much, it’s not an easy hike. Fit hikers need about 5 hours to complete.

Best time: July to September

Bisse du Levron

Bisse du Levron
Bisse du Levron, Photo by Alain Rouiller

This trail, starting from Les Ruinettes, is 11 kilometers long and goes to the start of the Bisse du Levron, located above the gondola station. It is an easy trail that takes about 3 hours to complete. The mountain restaurants, Namasté, Marmotte and Marlénaz, offer a great break option.

Col des Otanes

A more strenuous option is the trail from Fionnay to Col des Otanes. Hikers need about 6 hours to reach the end in Mauvoisin, but fortunately the Cabane FXB Panossière, located halfway on the trail, is a great place to have a drink ora nice meal while enjoying the views.

Bisse de Corbassière

This trail is shorter option for the route to Col des Otanes. It starts in Fionnay and ends at Cabane FXB Panossière where one can spend the night before continuing the walk or returning to the village. To reach the cabin, take about 4 hours into account. The elevation change of nearly 1200 meters makes it a hard walk, not to be underestimated.

Things to do in the region of the Grand Combin

There are 400 km of hiking trails, making hiking one of the most popular activities in the region. Experienced hikers can follow the tracks of the chamois through this mountain world, which is covered in snow even in summer. For those looking for more action, there is climbing, paragliding down to the valley, and 200 km of mountain bike piste. A trip aboard the mountain railway to the peak of Mont Fort with its impressive panorama from the Matterhorn to Mont Blanc is a must. Golfers will find two exciting courses and the modern sports center offers saunas, tennis, squash and curling whatever the weather.

Hiking with kids

Verbier benefits from numerous cableways and lifts all the way to the Mont Fort, making it a great region fors family-friendly hikes. The panoramic walk from Les Ruinettes to Savoleyres is a terrific option as it offers splendid views on the Grand Combin massif. The walk begins at Les Ruinettes, just under the upper station of the gondola.

Dom – The Highest Mountain in Switzerland

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Dom

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Dom 46.093900, 7.858900

Despite the stiff competition, the Dom is the highest mountain standing entirely on Swiss territory. Because of this, it passes the nearby located peaks of the Monte Rosa massif. Situated between the Mattertal and Saas Valley, it is surrounded by some of the most popular villages in the Alps.

About the Dom

The Dom is part of the Mischabelgroup located between Saas Fee and Randa in the Mattertal. With an elevation of 4545m it is the highest mountain entirely in Switzerland and the third highest in the Alps after the Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa. However, the Dufourspitze is the highest summit in Switzerland because it is not located on the ridge that marks the border between Italy and Switzerland. The Mischabel group includes many subsidiary summits above 4,000 metres. The Dom lies between Taschhorn (4491m) and the pyramid of the Lenzspitze (4294m).

The Dom lies between Saas Fee and Randa, but is mostly climbed from Randa in the Mattertal, a village close to Zermatt. The first ascent was made in September 11, 1858 by reverend John Llewelyn-Davies with guides, Johann Zumtaugwald, Johann Krönig and Hieronymous Brantschen from the northwest ridge.

On the Mattertal side, the Dom faces the almost equally high Weisshorn and, on the Saastal side, it faces the Weissmies.

Accommodations in the Dom Region

Mattertal

Mattertal
Mattertal, Photo by Umberto Luparelli

The Mattertal is a popular holiday region in the Swiss Alps as it is home to several iconic mountains such as the Weisshorn, the Mischabel group and, ofcourse, the Matterhorn. It provides several charming villages as a base for hiking holidays. Zermatt is the one for those who wish to catch a glimpse of the majestic Matterhorn. Zermatt is to Switzerland what Chamonix is to France. This mountaineering village breaths history as you will see traces of the past, not in the least is the Zermatt cemetery where several mountaineers lie buried. The village is flocked with day tourists taking the Glacier Express train to the village, since no cars are allowed in the center. Most spend the night in one of the many hotels in the village. However, for those on a budget, or spending a night in Zermatt before commencing their hike, there is a campsite available–the closest being Camping Matterhorn at the entry of the village, about two minutes from the train station. It is only for tents as there is no way to reach the campsite by car. Cost is 15 CHF/ day.

Randa, on the other hand, is located further down the Mattertal and is the closest village for summiting the Dom, but it has fewer options for accommodations, if you are looking for a fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel The Dom, founded in 1881, is an integral part of tourism in Saas-Fee. Named after the “Hausberg” Saas-Fees and the highest peak in Switzerland, we warmly welcome you to the oldest hotel in the village.

Hotel Das Dom, s situated in the centre of Saas-Grund, 50 metres from a bus stop to Saas-Fee and Saas-Almagell, right next to the a 26-km long cross-country ski trail, and 400 metres to the gondola to the skiing region of Saas-Grund/Hohsaas. All rooms at the Dom come with a balcony, and feature satellite TV. Each unit’s bathroom is provided with toiletries and a hairdryer.

Crotto di Gittana, composed by three cozy and spacious rooms, equipped with every comfort and with a wonderful lake view.

Saas Valley

Saas Valley
Saas Valley, Photo by James Billings

The Saas valley is described as a hospitable place in the Alps, with plenty of snow in the winter season and a diverse range of activities in the summer. Besides a wide variety of hotels and accommodations, there are a few campsites to be found in the valley. Camping Mischabel is located 15 minutes from the village center and offers an idyllic setting. Views on the Mischabel group, with the Dom (4545m) as the highest on Swiss terrain, offer plenty of inspiration for hiking and climbing. Camping Schönblick is nearby and has the option of renting a caravan.

Monte Rosa Hut

Mountain Hut - Monte Rosa HutSpending a night in the Monte Rosa Hut is a great experience. This innovative structure has a very recognizable silver-colored surface that looks like mountain crystal. Not only is the structure modern, but several integrated solar panels and thermal solar collectors provide 90 percent of the energy consumed by the mountain hut. Melting water is collected in a rock cavity while a filter system cleans the wastewater. The hut is mostly used by mountaineers looking to climb the Dufourspitze via the normal route.

Täschhütte

Mountain hut - TäschhütteTäschhütte is a mountain restaurant with the opportunity of spending the night. It offers 80 beds and is located at 2701 meters of altitude in the middle of the Mischabel group which has several 4000- meter peaks. One night will cost you 42 CHF or 84 CHF (meals included). The mountain refuge is accessible from several trails, including the Europaweg.

Langfluh Hut

This is a mountain hut with views of the highest mountains and most impressive glaciers in Switzerland. Beside delicious meals, the mountain hut also offers the possibility to sleep as 15 beds are available for guests.

Dom Hut

Mountain hut - Dom HutThe Dom Hut is located at an elevation of 2940m near the Festiglacier, located on the normal route for climbing the Dom. It takes about 4 hours to reach from Randa in the Mattertal. Climbers or hikers who want to spend the night can book one of the 52 beds available.

Mischabel Hut

Located on the sput of the Lenzspitze, this mountain refuge at 3329 meters is best reached from Saas Fee. A well-marked and easy path brings you from the Saastal to the mountain hut in about 4 hours.

Hiking in the Region of the Dom

Tour de Monte Rosa

While this multi-day hike circumnavigates the Monte Rosa massif, it still offers some great views of the Matterhorn worth mentioning. It crosses the Theodulpass, the second highest mountain pass in the Alps, and explores the Valais region as well as Valle D’Aoste. Along the way, spending your nights in cabins such as Europahutte and Gandegghutte makes the experience of hiking in the Alps even better.

Grachen to Saas Fee

The Saas Fee Hohenweg is one of the great hikes in the Valais. The challenging trail follows a high route along the west side of the Saastal with stunning views of the peaks towering above the Saas Valley and the Bernese Alps to the north. The trail is about 15 km long and makes a great day hike.

Hohenweg Kreuzboden

This scenic walk, with panoramic views of the Mischabel Range, traverses high above the east side of the Saas Valley before entering the beautiful Almageller Valley. End the hike by descending to Saas Almagell or take the challenging Adventure Trail to Furggstalden.

Grachen to Saas Fee

The Saas Fee Hohenweg is one of the great hikes in the Valais. The challenging trail follows a high route along the west side of the Saastal with stunning views of the peaks towering above the Saas Valley and the Bernese Alps to the north. The trail is about 15 km long and makes a great day hike.

Zermatt to Gornergrat via the Riffelsee

The Gornergrat is situated at the end of a mountain train line, so it’s easy to take a train back to Zermatt afterwards (CHF 40 one-way). From this point, you are offered great views of the Monte Rosa, Lyskamm, Castor, Pollux and Breithorn. You can reach Gornergrat by hiking to Riffelalp through the forest and then take the furthest trail to the south above the Gorner valley. This leads to the Riffelsee, where you will see the trail going towards the Gornergrat. It takes about five hours oneway, so if you intend to hike back down as well, be sure to make an early start. At Rifferalp, you will pass by a 5-star hotel that features some of the most delicious Rösti with bratwurst.

Things to do in the Dom region

Saas Fee is often described as the Pearl of the Alps, and this has more to do than just with the hiking options. On the peak of Mittelallalin, you will find the world’s biggest ice grotto. This ice cave is accessible by cable car year-round. After your visit, why not have a drink or something to eat in the world’s highest revolving restaurant, three!xty, where stunning 360-degree panoramic views are accompanied by delicious meals. The Saaser Museum is a good option for a rainy day or when you want to relax from hiking. It features a typical apartment from the turn of the 20th century, folklore items, and the traditional costumes of the region. When all the hiking has made your legs sore, a relaxing day at a spa might be what you need. There are five day spas in Saas-Fee alone, and even more further down the valley.

The Mattertal is the best option for visiting the Dom region. Here the cable car up to Klein Matterhorn makes it easyto see some of the most impressive panoramic views of the Alps. Also, with over 100 kilometers of biking trails reaching 1,400 to 3,100 meters of altitude, the region around Zermat offers a unique mountainbiking experience suitable for all levels.Day tourists will have no problem filling their day in Zermatt by visiting the Matterhorn Museum, wandering the streets, and enjoying some delicious Valais specialties in one of the many restaurants. Chances are high that you will need to take the train to leave the Mattertal (or at least Zermatt). However, the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Brig is known for its scenic mountain views and is considered one of the best train journeys in the world.

Hiking with kids

Spending your holiday in the Mattetal with small children? Even if your children can’t yet walk, there are some great options for hiking. The Aussichtsweg is a great round-trip hike suitable for those who wish to get some great views. The little altitude difference makes it ideal for families with children. Another great option is the circular hike from Zermatt leading to the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Randa.

Grande Jorasses

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Grandes Jorasses

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Grandes Jorasses 45.868800, 6.988000

The Grandes Jorasses are located in the Mont Blanc massif between the Haute Savoie in France and the Aosta Valley in Italy. The mountain group is only slightly lower than its well-known neighbor, the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps.

About the Grandes Jorasses

The Grandes Jorasses is a mountain group in the Mont Blanc massif of which the highest peak has an elevation of 4208 meters. The group is a collection of six summits linked by a 1 kilometer long ridge. The six summits are: Pointe Young (3996m), Punta Margherita (4066m), Punta Elena (4045m), Pointe Croz (4110m), Pointe Whymper (4184m) and Pointe Walker (4208m), the highest peak.

The first ascent of the Pointe Walker, the highest summit, took place in 1868 by Horace Walkerguided by Melchior Anderegg, Johann Jaun and Julien Grange. The group is best seen from the Italian side.

Accommodations in the Grandes Jorasses Region

The Grandes Jorasses is part of the Mont Blanc massif located on the France/Italy border. Both Chamonix and Courmayeur are great places to stay to explore the region around the Grandes Jorasses, with the Aosta Valley being the best, if you are looking for a fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel Le Morgane, a 4-star hotel with the sporty atmosphere of Chamonix. The style and concept of the Morgane stand out from the traditional Alpine hotels.

Hotel Gustavia, located In the heart of Chamonix and very close to the train station you’ll find the Langley Hotel, a charming, comfortable, fifty-room hotel with great atmosphere and a marvelous view of Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc.

Hotel Mont-Blanc is the door way to  Chamonix Valley. Every morning, the hotel offers the happiness of waking up to the most beautiful summit, Mont Blanc.

Chamonix

Chamonix Valley
Chamonix, Photo by Matthew Roberts

This valley in the Haute Savoie is one of the top destinations in the French Alps for hiking, paragliding, biking and as a starting base for the ascent of Mont Blanc. The reputation of this large village mainly comes from the first ascent of Mont Blanc in 1786. This was the birth of mountaineering as we know it today. The main street is full of bars, restaurants and outdoor shops offering the best gear for your hiking or climbing adventure. Accommodations in Chamonix are – as you can expect – pricey. The many campsites offer a budget alternative; but for thoselooking for a cheaper place to stay, the neighboring villages of Argentière and Les Houches are your best choices.

Courmayeur

Courmayeur
Courmayeur, Photo by Franco_F_a

Courmayeur is to Italy what Chamonix is to France. It is the base for Mont Blanc ascents on the Italian side of the massif. The village is situated at the end of the Aosta Valley, near the entrance of the Mont Blanc tunnel. Views of Mont Blanc are more impressive from Courmayer due to the steeper Italian face. Accommodationsare similar to those in Chamonix.

Camper van rest areas in the Aosta Valley

Camper van rest areas offer places where you can load water and unload your dirty water. On some occasions,electricity is available, along with bathrooms with showers. Sometimes there are facilities such as a hotel, bar, restaurant or a minimarket nearby. In the Grandes Jorasses area, these type of rest areas can be found in the Cogne Valley, Rhemes and Savarenche valleys, the Orco valley and the Soana Valley.

Argentière Hut

Mountain Hut - Argentière HutThe Argentière Refuge is located at an impressive altitude of 2771 meters. It offers views of the full Mont Blanc range, including its highest peak. It accommodates 91 people, and rooms cost 30 euros per night or 65 euros (half board). The refuge is often used for long distance hiking and the skitouring trails between Argentière and Zermatt, also known as the Haute Route. The refuge is open in the summer and from February to May, the latter period offering beds toskitouring visitors.

Albert Premier Refuge

Albert Premier RefugeThe slightly larger Albert Premier Refuge (140 beds) is situated besides the Le Tour glacier. It is a great goal for a short day hike, a nice stopover to the glacier, or the neighboring peaks of Aiguille du Tour, Aiguille d’Argentière, Les Drus and the Aiguilles Rouges. The refuge is only manned in the summer season but is open year-round. It is owned by the CAF, the Club Alpin France. Getting to the hut is easy by taking the Charamillon gondola from Le Tour and the Col de Balme chairlift. This helps you gain a lot of altitude in a short amount of time and reduces the hiking time to 1hour 30minutes. Those who want to go on a longer hike can follow the trails to Col de Balme underneath the cable car  (strenuous, add 3 hours).

Refuge des Cosmiques

Refuge des CosmiquesThe Refuge des Cosmiques is located on the shoulder between Col du Midi and the southwest ridge of Aiguille du Midi. This makes it the closest mountain hut to the peak and the second highest in the French Alps. Located at an altitude of 3593 meters, it is often used as a starting base for Mont Blanc ascents (Three Monts route) . The hut has about 140 beds at 42 euros (breakfast included) to 66 euro (half pension).

Refuge du Plan d’Aiguille

The Refuge du Plan d’Aiguille is easily reachable by getting off at the first stop of the Aiguille du Midi cable car (Plan d’Aiguille). Not only is this a great place to start your hike, but the overlook views over the Chamonix Valley also make it a great place for lunch. There is one room with ten beds available, even in the winter season. Owners, Claude and Marie-Noelle, accommodate visitors at 2207 meters of altitude. Spending the night here costs 24 euro per person or 54 euros with meals included. Wifi is available and pets are allowed as well.

Hiking in the Grandes Jorasses Region

Tour de Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc, Photo by Ange Traverso

The Tour de Mont Blanc is a 10-day trek around the Mont Blanc massif crossing three countries: France, Switzerland and Italy. Since it’s regarded as the most beautiful trek in Europe, the number of hikers can get high during the peak season. While most people start their hike in neighboring Chamonix, the village of Argentière is an often-used stop.

Aiguilles des Posettes

This short 5.8-kilometer hike has great rewards. From the Tre le Champs carpark, you can follow your way up to “Aiguilette via la crète”. It is rough and strenuous trail gaining 750m of ascent, but there is a real summit as a goal. Besides having reached an alpine summit, the views over the Chamonix valley are breathtaking. On clear days it is possible to get a panoramic view all the way to the Jungfrau region. You have the option to hike the same way down or use the Vallorcine gondola; however, this option will require a car shuttle.

Grand Balcon Sud

This 13.6-kilometer trail leads you through the Reserve Naturelle des Aiguille Rouges. Despite the strenuous start, the hike is relatively easy and flat. You will get views over the entire valley and have plenty of opportunities to spot an ibex. To enlarge your chances, head off early in the morning! Descending back to the valley floor can be done by taking the Flegere lift down.

Col de la Croix

This 3-hour hike leads to the Col de la Croix, located at an elevation of 2380m. It enters the valley of Arpy before climbing the col. Descending is possible via the Plan Praz (2057m) and the village of Theraz.

Things to do in the Grandes Jorasses Region

The cable car leading to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi is without doubt the top tourist attraction in Chamonix. Return tickets cost about 58 euros. From this point, you can take an elevator through the rocks of the peak to a viewing platform, some 42 meter higher. Here, you get to see Mont Blanc up close. On clear days, views of the Grand Combin and the Monte Rosa are admirable. The restaurant is a great place to have lunch before taking the Panoramic Mont Blanc tramway to Hellbronner on the Italian side of the massif; you can descend all the way to Courmayeur. This makes it possible to start this journey in Courmayeur as well.

Another main tourist attraction on the French side of the massif is the Mer the Glace train to Montenvers. It departs from the Chamonix train station and leads to the famous Mer de Glace, a glacier between Aiguille du Midi and Les Drus that used to reach all the way to the valley base.

The Chamonix valley is a hotspot for thrillseeking adventurers. Challenging peaks are the playground for experienced mountaineers while the air streams offer great conditions for paragliders.

Hiking with kids

Hiking with children around the Mont Blanc massif may seem difficult due to the altitude difference; however, there quite a few trails suitable for families. Fortunately, cable cars will help you gain most of the elevation without much effort. For this reason, the Lac Bleu hike is well worth mentioning, since it only requires 15 minutes to reach from the cable car station. Whether you want to add more kilometers / hiking hours is up to you. Lac Blanc is a 2-hour easy hike from the Flegere lift station. The nearby Lac Blanc hut offers facilities and refreshments well earned.

Zinalrothorn – surrounded by 4000-meter peaks

The Zinalrothorn is a mountain peak located between the Mattertal and Zinal, from which its name is derived. The proximity of several 4000-meter peaks and the villages of Zermatt and Zinal make this a well-visited part of the Alps. Hikers and bikers can challenge themselves on the many trails surrounding the peak and enjoy splendid view of the Matterhorn, Weisshorn and Dent Blanche.

About the Zinalrothorn

Zinalrothorn

The Zinalrothorn is a 4221-meter high mountain situated between the Matterhorn, Weisshorn and Dent Blanche. The name of the mountain is derived from the village of Zinal, located on the north side and from the German word rothorn, which can be translated as Red Peak. The ascent of the Zinalrothorn is considered as one of the most scenic in the Valais region. The summit offers views of several 4000-meter peaks including the Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn and the Weisshorn. The mountain was first successfully climbed on August 22, 1864 by Sir Leslie Stephen, Florence Craufurd and Melchior Anderegg via the northern ridge from Zinal. The Zinalrothorn has a very distinctive summit that appears to lean at an angle.

Climbing the Zinalrothorn

4 to 6 hours from Refuge de Grand Mountet.

The North ridge of the Zinalrothorn is the normal route from Zinal. This very nice ridge is slightly longer than the regular normal route (the ZW ridge from Zermatt) but is more beautiful and more adventurous! This route is highly recommended for every alpinist with extensive experience!

In most climbing guides this beautiful ridge is described as extremely light. In the beginning of the tour, you will think, that will surely all come along, but the farther you get, the more impression you get from the insane depth. Certainly the passage called Rasiermesser (the Razor) lives up to its name!
This is a 5 meter long passage on the ridge that is so sharp that you can only put a hand over it, if you have traversed the 5 meter you will literally climb the depth. You have 1000 meters of air under your feet while you make the step.

Then comes the beautiful towers of the Sphinx and the Bosse. The Sphinx is a beautiful big tower that you climb via the Mountet side. De Bosse is a very beautiful tower of about 40 meters high. This consists of beautiful plates and almost always has some snow remnants. There are the necessary mephaks and a stand in the middle. Do take some small camelots with you.The entire climb is a true experience. This starts with the beautiful and sharp snow ridge that leads to the actual rock ridge. The so-called Arête Blanc. The rock is of very good quality.

Descent:
You can go back both via the same route and via the ZW ramp towards the Rothornhut. The preference is for the ZW ridge, which is faster and easier. The only disadvantage is that you end up in another valley, and that you may not know the way well (just pay attention after the snow ridge and the big snow field). If you go back via the Noordgraat, you can certainly count on four or five. It is a long ridge.The big Mountet round:What is done very regularly is the so-called Mountet round. (The name, however, I have come up with.) You park your car in Zinal and walk to the Ref. the Grand Mountet.The next day you climb the Obergabelhorn via the Noordwand or via the Couergraat and descend via the Wellenkuppe to the Rothornhut. Here you spend the night and the next day you climb the Zinalrothorn via the ZW graat and descend via the Northgraat back to the Grand Mountet. So you have made two very nice trips and you can easily get back to your car in Zinal.

Accommodation around the Zinalrothorn

Zermatt and Täsch in the Mattertal are the closest villages to the Zinalrothorn, while Zinal on the other side is also a great base for your holiday in the Zinalrothorn region, if you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Klein Matterhorn Hotel, is a 2-star Gastro-Suisse certified hotel / restaurant and is located in Randa in a prime central location next to the train station.

Hotel Bristol, the hotel is very centrally located and has free WIFI, spa, half-board restaurant and a cozy lobby with log fire. They are only a short distance from the cable cars.

Hotel Testa Grigia, located in the center of Zermatt. You can expect 33 spacious clean rooms, a perfectly functioning WiFi and a great breakfast buffet for a great value for money.

Zermatt

Town Of Zermatt
Zermatt Photo By Eric

Zermatt is the base for those who wish to catch a glimpse of the majestic Matterhorn. Zermatt is to Switzerland what Chamonix is to France. This mountaineering village breathes history, as you will see traces of the past, not the least being the Zermatt cemetery where several mountaineers lie buried. Zermatt is flocked with day tourists taking the Glacier Express train to the village, since no cars are allowed in the center. Most of them spend the night in one of the many hotels in the village. However, for those on a budget, or spending a night in Zermatt before commencing their hike, there is a campsite available–the closest being camping Matterhorn at the entry of the village, about two minutes from the train station. It is only for tents as there is no way to reach the campsite by car. Cost is 15 CHF/ day.

Zinal

Zinal is a small Swiss alpine village situated in Val d’Anniviers, close to the Mattertal.  It is surrounded by the highest mountains in the Alps, making it a favorite place to stay for active travelers seeking splendid hikes in the region. Despite the fact that Zinal is quite small, it has several hotels in its center. Prices tend to be a bit more affordable than Zermatt, and it has rooms for all budgets. However, do keep in mind that this is according to Swiss standards.

Rothorn Hut (3,198 m)

Mountain Hut - Rothorn Hut

The hut can be reached in 4.5 hours from Zermatt. The easiest way is to follow the signs from the village center. The alpine hut, located above Zermatt at the base of the Zinalrothornattracts a colorful variety of mountaineers and hikers seeking high-altitude challenges.

Grand Mountet Hut (2,886 m)

Mountain Hut - Grand Mountet Hut

This mountain hut is located near Zinal and is often used as a starting point for climbs of Zinalrothorn, Ober Gabelhorn, Pointe de Zinal and Dent Blanche. It was originally built in 1887, but has been modified multiple times, the last being in 1996. At the moment, about 115 people can spend the night here. Situated in the middle of glaciers, it has an impressive setting, although accessibility by trail is such that the cabin is frequented by hikerslooking to get good views of the Zinal Glacier and surrounding peaks.

Schönbielhütte

Mountain Hut - Schönbielhütte

The Schönbielhütte is surrounded by some of the most mighty peaks in the Alps, such as the Matterhorn, the Dent Blanche and the Obergabelhorn. It is a popular starting point for classic routes like the Tour du Ciel. From Schwarzsee, it takes about 2.5 hours to reach the hut, making for a splendid walk. The hut has 6 dormitories hosting 80 people maximum. Hikers often spend the night here to enjoy the beautiful sunset scenery and the delicious meals. They serve a mountaineer’s menu as well as Swiss cheese toast, rösti, etc. The rösti, prepared by the host with fresh potatoes, is a well- appreciated dish here.

Cabane de la Dent Blanche

The Cabane de la Dent Blanche is situated near the Ferbècle glacier at an altitude of 3507 meters. It is often used by mountaineers as a stayover for a summit bid of the Dent Blanche. To reach the cabane glacier, crossings are involved and experienceis required. From Ferpècle, at about 1700 meters of altitude,reaching the hut necessitates an early start. It is owned by Marlyse Vuadens and has 45 beds. When planning to spend the night, reservations are a good idea. Half-board accommodations costs about 42CHF.

Hiking in the region of the Zinalrothorn

Zinal glacier

If regular hiking is too routine for you, the hike to Zinal Glacier might offer a new dimension. However, this hike is available in winter season only as it requires snow shoes. Guides take you up to the glacier located above the village of Zinal, and best of all, inside the icy world of a crevassed glacier. Duration: 2 hours.

Historic Trail of Zinal

For those who wish to combine hiking with learning about the local culture, the historic trail of Zinal is a good option. This educational trail will take you along 17 information boards that will give you good insight into the history of the small town and region. Be sure to visit the tourist information center first as you will be given a book that provides additional information.

Hike to Cabane Petit Mountet

Cabane Petit Mountet
Cabane Petit Mountet Photo by Valerie kuki

The hike to Cabane Petit Mountet is a panoramic day hike starting in Zinal by taking the cable car to col de Sorebois (2438 meter). From this location, it takes about 13 kilometers and up to 5 hours to reach Zinal. Along the way, Cabane de Petit Mountet is a great rest stop to get some refreshments or have a nice meal. Bear in mind that this is a challenging hike, not to be undertaken by families with children.

Rotenboden – Riffelberg

This trail provides winter options. The wow factor is huge on this hike as a view of the Matterhorn against a blue winter sky is an unique experience. Besides the Matterhorn, other 4000-meter peaks can be enjoyed as well, including the Dent Blanche. The trail is even suitable for families with children as there are options to pull your kids on a sled.

Flower walk

If you enjoy walking through alpine meadows, this short day hike is for you. The walk is about a 3-hour round trip from Blauherd to Tuftern back to Sunnega. Along the way, you will see some rare alpine flora including edelweiss.

Best season: June to September

Marmot Trail

The alps are home to ibex, chamois and…marmots. The 3-hour walk from Blauherd to Sunnegga takes you past several information boards and observation points giving you glimpses of the area where the marmot lives. They are often seen in this region. Can you spot one?

Best season: June to September

Oberrothorn

Oberrothorn Mountain
Oberrothorn Photo by Gilles Monney

Hikers climbing the strenuous trail to the top of the Oberrothorn (3,414 meters) are rewarded with stunning panoramic views of 38 peaks over 4,000 meters. From the summit, you will enjoy glorious views of the Ober Gabelhorn-Weisshorn Group towering above the Zermatt valley. Ski lifts facilitate the climb to the top while a good network of hiking trails allows parties to create interesting loop hikes incorporating a trip to the summit. Distance: 14 km round trip.

Things to do in the Zinalrothorn region

The Alps offer some of the best hiking locations, and the Mattertal is no exception. Views of the majestic peak during one of your hikes surpasses those you get from the village of Zermatt as the angle is much better higher up the valley flanks. The cable car leading to Schwarzsee, Trockener Steg and Klein Matterhorn makes the ascent easier for those who want to shorten their hike. Also, with over 100 kilometers of biking trails reaching 1,400 to 3,100 meters of altitude, the region around Zermat offers a unique mountainbiking experience suitable for all levels.

Afterwards, be sure to enjoy a delicious cheese fondue or raclette in one of the fine restaurants in the center of Zermatt. Those who wish to learn more about the Matterhorn can visit the Matterhorn museum on their rest day.

Hiking with kids

The Animal Trail leading from Grimentz to St-Jean is one of the top picks when it comes to family hiking. During this short trek, you get to know the alpine animals in a fun and educational way. The trail leads through the regional forests and affords several fun activities including recognizing animal footprints, recognizing silhouettes of animals, and answering riddles.

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Zinalrothorn

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Zinalrothorn 46.063600, 7.690000

Alphubel – Overshadowed by Monte Rosa massif

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Alphubel

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Alphubel 46.062000, 7.864200

Despite its height, the Alphubel is overshadowed by some of the highest peaks in Switzerland. The Dom and Monte Rosa range are all within close range and take the Alphubel out of the spotlight. However, this mountains is located in an idyllic setting between the Mattertal and the Saas valley.

About the Alphubel

The Alphubel is a 4206-meter high mountain peak in the Wallis region of the Swiss Alps. The peak itself is part of the Mischabel Group of which the Dom is the highest. Alphubel is surrounded bu the Täschhorn in the north and the Allalinhorn in the south. The mountain was first ascended on August 9, 1860 by W. Hinchcliff, L. Stephen and mountain guides, M. Anderegg and P. Perren. The normal route runs from Saas Fee via the Längfluhhütte (2870m) over the eastern face. The icy summit is formed by a glaciated plateau from which it is hard to see the actual summit. Other routes to the summit run via the Täschhütte (2701m) and the Alphubeljoch (3782m) at the same plateau. A third option is a climb from Mitellallalin via Feejoch to Alphubeljoch. In 2010, a wooden cross was placed on the summit to make it easier to locate the actual summit, since it might be hard to see in foggy weather. From the Alphubel, you have a very nice view over the Mischabelgroup and across to the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa

Accommodations in the region of the Alphubel

Mattertal

The Mattertal is a popular holiday region in the Swiss Alps as it is home to several iconic mountains such as the Weisshorn, the Mischabel group and, ofcourse, the Matterhorn. It provides several charming villages as a base for hiking holidays.

Zermatt

Town Of Zermatt
Zermatt Photo by Eric

Zermatt is a not-to-be-missed destination when it comes to visiting the Swiss Alps. One of the main reasons is the Matterhorn’s shadow hanging above the village center. Zermatt is to the Matterhorn what Chamonix is to Mont Blanc. The traffic-free center gives the village a charming atmosphere not often surpassed in the Alps. The center of Zermatt can be reached on foot or by taking the Glacier Express from the neighboring village of Täsh. There are plenty of options for accommodations, eventhough most hotels are quite pricey due to the location. Budget travelers may find alternative options at the nearby campsite, just outside the village center.

Täsch

Täsch is the last village in the Mattertal before reaching Zermatt. Most tourists arrive in Täsch by car before traveling further with the Glacier Express to Zermatt or hike their way into the mountaineering village. Most visitors spend the night in Zermatt, where accommodations are widely available, if you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel Alphubel, is in a quiet and central location and It offers a sitting room, terrace, rest-cure meadow, garden and a sauna and also free WiFi is available in every room.

Hotel Walliserhof, the 3 star hotel is in a quiet location, within walking distance you can easily reach the train station or the village center in a few minutes. From the moment you step into the hotel, the staff will do their best to make you feel at home as quickly as possible, meet all your expectations and make your stay in Täsch unforgettable.

Hotel Christiania, located in Saas-Fee, about 100 meters south of the village square and only three minutes walk from the cable cars, the ski lifts and the sports field. The ski school and the mountain guide office are nearby.

Saas Valley

Saas Valley
Saas Valley Photo by Dave_s

The Saas valley is described as a hospitable place in the Alps, with plenty of snow in the winter season and a diverse range of activities in the summer. Besides a wide variety of hotels and accommodations, there are a few campsites to be found in the valley. Camping Mischabel is located 15 minutes from the village center and offers an idyllic setting. Views of the Mischabel group, with the Dom (4545m) as the highest on Swiss terrain, offer plenty of inspiration for hiking and climbing. Camping Schönblick is another option nearby and has the option of renting a caravan.

Langfluh Hut

This mountain hut has views of the highest mountains and most impressive glaciers in Switzerland. Beside delicious meals the mountain, the hut also offers possibility to sleep: 15 beds are available for guests.

Monte Rosa Hut

Mountain Hut - Monte Rosa HutSpending a night in the Monte Rosa Hut is a great experience. This innovative structure has a very recognizable silver-colored surface that looks like mountain crystal. Not only is the structure modern, butseveral integrated solar panels and thermal solar collectors provide 90 percent of the energy consumed by the hut. Melting water is collected in a rock cavity while a filter system cleans the wastewater. The hut is mostly used by mountaineers looking to climb the Dufourspitze via the normal route.

Täschhütte

Mountain Hut - TäschhütteTäschhütte is a mountain restaurant with the opportunity to spend the night. It offers 80 beds and is located at 2701 meters of altitudein the middle of the Mischabel group, which has several 4000- meter peaks. One night will cost you 42 CHF or 84 CHF (meals included). The mountain refuge is accessible from several trails, including the Europaweg.

Hiking in the region of the Alphubel

Europaweg to Zermatt

One of the most scenic multi-day hikes in the Alps is the Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. This trail passes Zinal in the Val d’Anniviers and ends in Zermatt at the end of the Mattertal. From the Val d’Anniviers, the Mattertal is easily reached via Turtmanntal and Augustbordpass. From St Niklaus, the Europaweg marks the final two stages of your journey. It is an epic multi-day hike with the reward of a splendid view of the Matterhorn. Duration: 4-5 days.

Gspon – Saas Grund

Gspon - Saas Grund
Gspon – Saas Grund Photo by Genevieve

The hike connecting Gspon to Saas Grund is an all-time favorite among those who know this area well. It is part of the “Great Walser Trail” which traces the historic west-east migration pattern of the Walser. High above the gorge that houses the babbling Saaser Vispa, the trail is mostly just above the treeline. Because of this, it offers wonderful views of the glaciers of the mighty Mischabel range. Walking time: 4hours 10 minutes. Altitude difference: 430m ascent and 770m descent.

Grachen to Saas Fee

The Saas Fee Hohenweg is one of the great hikes in the Valais. This challenging trail follows a high route along the west side of the Saastal with stunning views of the peaks towering above the Saas Valley and the Bernese Alps to the north. The trail is about 15 km long and makes a great day hike.

Hohenweg Kreuzboden

This scenic walk with panoramic views of the Mischabel Range traverses high above the east side of the Saas Valley before entering the beautiful Almageller Valley. End the hike by descending to Saas Almagell or take the challenging Adventure Trail to Furggstalden.

Zermatt to Gornergrat via the Riffelsee

The Gornergrat is situated at the end of a mountain train line, so it’s easy to take a train back to Zermatt after (CHF 40 one-way). From this point, you are offered great views of the Monte Rosa, Lyskamm, Castor, Pollux and Breithorn. You can reach Gornergrat by hiking to Riffelalp through the forest and then take the furthest trail to the south above the Gorner valley. This leads to the Riffelsee, where you will see the trail going towards the Gornergrat. It takes about five hours oneway, so if you intend to hike back down as well, be sure to make an early start. At Rifferalp, you will pass by a 5-star hotel that features some of the most delicious Rösti with bratwurst.

Things to do in the Alphubel region

Saas Fee is often described as the Pearl of the Alps, and this has more to do than with just the hiking options. On the peak of Mittelallalin, you will find the world’s biggest ice grotto. This ice cave is accessible by cable car year-round. After your visit, why not have a drink or something to eat in the world’s highest revolving restaurant, three!xty, where stunning 360-degree panoramic views are served with delicious meals.

The Saaser Museum is a good option for a rainy day or when you want to relax from hiking. It features a typical apartment from the turn of the 20th century, folklore items, and the traditional costumes of the region.

When all the hiking has made your legs sore, a relaxing day at a spa might be just what you need. There are five day spas in Saas-Fee alone, and even more further down the valley.

On the other side of the Mischabelgroup, you will find the Mattertal. While Täsch is the closest village to the Alphubel, Zermatt attracts more visitors. The village center offers great views of the Matterhorn, and there is great mountaineering vibe in the streets.

The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge is another popular attraction. It is located in Randa, and easily explored by walking the circular hike from Zermatt.

Hiking with kids

Spending your holiday in Zermatt with small children? Even if your kids can’t yet walk, there are some great options for hiking. The Rundwanderung Täsh is a great round-trip hike suitable for those who wish to get some great views. The little altitude difference makes it ideal for families with children, even if you decide to bring a baby carriage. You can swim in the Schalisee Lake, rest at one of the many playgrounds along the route, or enjoy the views of the Breithorn.

Dent d’Herens – 4000 meter with iconic neighbour

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Dent d’Herens

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Dent d’Herens 45.970000, 7.605100

Figuratively and literally, the Dent d’Herens is overshadowed by the Matterhorn. With an altitude of 4171 meters, it’s only slightly lower than the iconic pyramid-shaped peak, but the challenge to climb it is just as great. Located in the Mattertal near Zermatt, it is the setting of a well-travelled part of the Swiss Alps.

About the Dent d’Herens

The Dent d’Herens is a mountain peak on the border of Italy and Switzerland, with an altitude of 4171meters. It is located in the west of the Matterhorn (4478m) and south of the Dent Blanche (4357m). Most people start their climb at the Italian mountain hut Rifugio Aosta (2781m). On the Swiss side, the Schönbielhutte (2694m) offers great views of the icy north face of the mountain. The summit of Dent d’Herens was first succesfully climbed in 1863 by Florence Crawford Grove, William Edward Hall, Reginald Somerled Macdonald, Montagu Woodmass, Melchior Anderegg, Jean-Pierre Cachat and Peter Perren. The summit offers a panoramic view of the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa massif.

It is possible that the Dent d’Herens was once mixed up with the nearby Dent Blanche. The latter is located at the end of the Val d’Herens and isn’t white, while the Dent d’Herens can’t even be seen from the Val d’Herens, but looks quite white because of the numerous glaciers on the north face.

Accommodations near the Dent d’Herens

Zermatt is the base for those who wish to see or climb the Matterhorn, the iconic neighbor of Dent d’Herens. It is a perfect holiday destination for travelers who wish to hike in the region of Dent d’Herens.  Zermatt is to Switzerland what Chamonix is to France. This mountaineering village breaths history as you will see traces of the past. Not the least is the Zermatt cemetery where several mountaineers lie buried, if you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Hotel Millefiori, is a small botique hotel located in the Italian Alps with a total of 15 rooms with a true Alpine feel. The hotel has a personal atmosphere and suits everything from families with children, friends to colleagues on a conference trip.

Hotel Europa, is just 150 meters from the Breuil-Plan Maison cable car. Most rooms offer views of the Matterhorn Mountain and the Grandes Murailles mountain range.

Hotel Plateau-Rosa, Enjoy a wonderful stay with authentic Valais hospitality. Look forward to renovated and comfortable rooms with a fantastic view. Just the thing for everyone who is looking for peace and relaxation in the midst of an imposing mountain landscape.

Hotels/ Campsites in Zermatt

Zermatt is flocked with day tourists taking the Glacier Express train to the village, since no cars are allowed in the center. Most of them spend the night in one of the many hotels in the village. However, for those on a budget, or spending a night in Zermatt before commencing their hike, there is a campsite available, the closest being camping Matterhorn at the entry of the village about two minutes from the train station. This is only for tents as there is no way to reach the campsite by car. Cost is 15 CHF/ day.

Aosta valley

Aosta valley
Aosta valley Photo by Guiliano Da Zanche

The best side for visiting the Dent d’Herens region is the Italian side, where the Aosta valley accommodates travelers. Valtournenche is one of the closest places to the mountain base. Camping Glair is a budget option for those who don’t want to spend their night in a hotel.

Schönbielhütte

The Schönbielhütte is surrounded by some of the most mighty peaks in the Alps such as the Matterhorn, the Dent BlancheMountain Hut - Schönbielhütte and the Obergabelhorn. It is a popular starting point for classic routes like the Tour du Ciel. From Schwarzsee, it takes about 2.5 hours to reach the hut, making for a splendid walk. The hut has 6 dormitories, hosting 80 people maximum. Hikers often spend the night here to enjoy the beautiful sunset scenery and the delicious meals. They serve a mountaineer’s menu as well as Swiss cheese toast, rösti, etc. The rösti, prepared by the hostwith fresh potatoes, is a well- appreciated dish here.

Gandegg Hutte

Mountain Hut - Gandegg HutteThe Gandegg Hutte is a cosy little mountain hut accommodating climbers and hikers. It is located about 30 minutes from the Trockener Steg cable car station. Not only is it a great base for climbing Breithorn, but it provides a comfortable night’s sleep for those who wish to hike the Tour de Monte Rosa or hike to Theodulpass. From the hut, you get splendid  views of Breithorn, Dent D’Herens and the Matterhorn.

Theodulhutte

Mountain hut - TheodulhutteAnother great trip is to Theodulhutte, close the Theodulpass, the highest mountain pass in the Alps. From Zermatt, this requires a lengthy ascent to Trockener Steg (or a short ride on the cable car) before crossing the Theodul glacier leading to the pass. Near the pass, you will find the Theodul hut often used by hikers of the Tour de Monte Rosa.

Rifugio Aosta

Rifugio Aosta
Rifugio Aosta Photo by Massimo

Rifugio Aosta is best reached from Prarayer or Zermatt. It takes about 5.5 hours to reach from Zermatt via a trail leading to Schönbielhutte and Col de Valpelline. It is situated at an elevation of 2781 meters, making it a popular starting base for Dent d’Herens ascents. There are about 30 beds available, so reservationsare recommended.

Hiking in the region of Dent d’Herens

While visiting the Dent d’Herens region, hiking is one of the top activities here. With several 4,000-meter peaks, the views are just awesome. Alhough the Matterhorn is one mountain that will always stand out,  there are plenty of trails that will lead you to splendid viewpoints of the Dent d’Herens as well.

Tour the Matterhorn

The Tour de Matterhorn probably is the best known multi-day hike in the region. It is the ultimate hike around the world’s most beautiful mountain. In 8 days, this route circumnavigates the Matterhorn along some great cable-secured passages, boulder fields and even glaciers. Along the way, you can spend the night in mountain cabins such as Rifugio del Teodulo, Rifugia Prarayer and Europaweghütte. Suffering from vertigo is no option as there are a lot of altitude meters to be conquered. One of the hardest sections is a 2,100-meter descent, so stamina is required.

Abenteurweg

The Abenteurweg or Adventure trail is a steep trail (900 meters in little over 4 kilometers) leading from the Rothorn to Tufteren. You will be descending all the way and be rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding 4,000-meter peaks, including the Breithorn. The trail takes about 1h40 minutes to complete–without the many stops  for taking pictures, that is.

Aussichtsweg

Hiking in Aussichtsweg
Aussichtsweg Photo by Zermatt tourism

This short hike is suitable for a levels. Along the way, you will be enchanted by panoramic views of 29 mountains above 4,000 meters. You could say that the trail lives up to its reputation. Few trails this short provide such scenic panoramas of the Alps–a real must if you are short on time.

Zermatt to Chalbermatten and return via Zmutt and Zumsee

This hike brings you under the north face of the Matterhorn, meaning you will catch great views of the Monte Rosa massif and the Breithorn. It is one of the classic hikes that takes you through the beautiful hamlet of Zmutt. The ideal walk would be to make a loop starting via Eldelweiss and take the high contour via Hubel. A detour via Zumsee is recommended if you are getting hungry after the walk. Max und Greti’s offers the best cinnamon ice cream you will eat during your visit to Switzerland. They also have a full menu available.

Hike to Trockener Steg / Gandagg Hutte

A popular option for a hike is towards Trockener Steg and Gandagg Hutte. The route passes Schwarzsee, which offers great views of the Matterhorn and surrounding 4,000-meter peaks. The ascent to Trockener Steg from Zermatt ratchets up the altitude meters. If you’re not sure about your physical capabilities, there is the option of using the cable car before descending back to the village. Gandagg hutte, located about 30 minutes from the Trockener Steg cable car station, offers great accommodations for an overnight stay. In the area are great walks towards the Theodulglacier or even Klein Matterhorn.

Things to do in the Dent d’Herens region

There is no doubt that hiking is one of the best things to do while spending your time in the Mattertal as this will provide you the best views of some iconic 4,000-meter peaks. The cable car up to Klein Matterhorn makes it easier for those with less time. Also, with over 100 kilometers of biking trails reaching 1,400 to 3,100 meters of altitude, the region around Zermat offers a unique mountainbiking experience suitable for all levels.

Day tourists will have no problem filling their day in Zermattvisiting the Matterhorn Museum, wandering the streets, and enjoying some delicious Valais specialties in one of the many restaurants. Chances are high that you will need to take the train to leave the Mattertal (or at least Zermatt). However, the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Brig is known for its scenic mountain views and is considered as one of the best train journeys in the world.

Hiking with kids

Spending your holiday in Zermatt with small children? Even if your kids can’t yet walk, there are some great options for hiking. The Aussichtsweg is a great round-trip hike suitable for those who wish to get some great views. The little altitude difference makes it ideal for families with children.

Mönch – popular peak with views of Eiger and Jungfrau

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Mönch

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Mönch 46.558500, 7.997300

The Mönch regionis amongthe best mountaineous landscapes you will find. With famous neighbors such as the Jungfrau and the Eiger, this trio of mountian peaks offers the perfect setting for your hiking holiday. The Jungfrau railway, a train journey to the top of Europe, runs right below its summit, at an elevation of 3300 meters.

About

Located in the Bernese Alps, the Mönch is the second highest mountain of the three peaks that are often seen as one group: the Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger. With an altitude of 4107 meters, it is only a little lower than its neighbor, the Jungfrau. In between the Mönch and the Jungfrau, you can find the Jungfraujoch, a saddle reachable by tourists via the Jungfrau line, a scenic railway that connects Interlaken and Kleine Scheidegg, partially through a tunnel that goes through the Eiger and Mönch. The Jungfraujoch railway station on top of the saddle is at an elevation of 3454 meters, the highest in Europe.

The Mönch was first succesfully climbed in 1857 by Christian Almer, Christian Kaufmann, Ulrich Kauffman and Sigismund Porges.

The Mönch is the most climbed of the three peaks of the Berner Trilogy. It has easy access from the Jungfraujoch rail station, and the Mönchsjochhütte is only a short walk away. Its spectacular setting in the heart of the Berner Oberland and a variety of good routes all contribute to its popularity. The Southeast Ridge is considered the normal route and is a great introduction to climbing in the area.

Accommodations in the region of the Mönch

Partially because of these famous peaks, including the Jungfrau and the notorious Eiger, this region is well-known as a wintersport destination. The villages of Grindelwald and Wengen attract travelers from all over the world to its snowy slopes in winter and its hiking trails in summer, if you are looking for fine hotel, these are worth checking out:

Pension Altstadt-Mönch,located in the heart of the old town of Stralsund and was renovated with great attention to detail. From the hotel you can in one minute the Stralsund Town Hall of the Old Market with the embedded gothic Schaufassdade, which belongs to the most beautiful of the Baltic region, the Nikolaikirche, as well as the beautiful theater, the Maritime Museum, the monasteries or the Unesco World Heritage exhibition in Olthofschen Palais from Stralsund.

Hostellerie des Châteaux & Spa,this charming hotel in Alsace offers romantic rooms and Luxury Suites with Jacuzzi in the Room, Sauna or Private Hammam.

Le Méridien Stuttgart Hotel,is as unique as its location. It is close to the Stuttgart central station at the Schlosgarten Park. All the famous attractions are just a few steps away: opera, theatre and shopping.

Grindelwald

Town of Grindelwald
Grindelwald Photo by Steve Liptrot

Grindelwald is a village in the cantonof Bern located at the base of the Jungfrau. From the village center, one can take a train via Kleine Scheidegg to the railway station Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe. Not only is it a popular base for hikers, but climbers who have set their mind on the notorious Eiger North Face start their quest here as well.

Grindelwald has several types of accommodations. Besides hotels, there is the option to spend your nights at one of the three campsites: camping Eigernordwand, camping Gletscherdorf or camping Holdrio.

Wengen

Wengen Village
Wengen Photo by Sinava

The village of Wengen is located in the canton of Bern, close to the border of Wallis. There are several hotels in the village and even a youth hostel. A train leading from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen continues its journey to Kleine Scheidegg. Here you can change trains that lead to Jungfraujoch. The traffic-free village center withits traditional charming wooden chalets makesa perfect holiday setting.

Mönchsjoch hut

Mountain hut - Mönchsjoch hutThe Mönchsjoch hut is one of the highest mountain huts owned by the Swiss Alpine club. Located at an elevation of 3658 meters, it is often used for ascents of the Jungfrau and Mönch. However, despite the altitude, the mountain hut is easily reachable due to the Jungfrau railway. From the highest station, a secured piste over the crevassed glacier makes it possible for hikers to reach it. From the hut, one can view the Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps.

Konkordia Hut

Mountain Hut - Konkordia HutThe Konkordia Hut is a mountain refuge in the canton of Valais, situated above Konkordiaplatz, where several glaciers meet in the Aletsch glacier system. Located about 2850 meters above sea level, its remote location makes it a long way from villages. The shortest way to reach the cabin is via the Jungfraujoch railway station (4 hours).

Suls Lobhornhütte

Mountain Hut - Suls Lobhornhütte

This charming wooden mountain hut has great views on the Eiger, Mönch and the Jungfrau. It is located at a plateau high up in the Alps at an altitude of 1955 meters, well above the Isenfluh in the Lauterbrunnental. There are only 24 beds, making reservation necessary when planning an overnight stay. There are three different routes to reach the hut, varying from 1hour 30 minutes to 4hours 30minutes.The hut makes a good starting place for several hikes in the region.

Hiking in the Jungfrau region

With peaks like the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch, hikers cannot wish for a better setting for their hiking holiday. The charming villages of the Berner Oberland are a great starting point for day hikes or mult-day routes in the Jungfrau region.

Hike to Konkordia Hut

Few mountain huts are more remote than the Konkordia. It is located above the Aletsch glacier system where several glaciers meet, about 150 meters above the ice. The route from the Jungfrau railway station is the shortest and therefore the most popular. However, all access routes to the hut are over glaciated terrain, so an experience of crossing it is necessary. Hiring a guide is anoption.

Eigertrail

The Eiger trail is a moderate mountain hike at the base of the notorious North Face. It’s a 2-to-3 hour hike leading from the Eigergletscher station (Jungfrau railway) to Alpiglen at 1615 meters or Grindelwald. It is well-marked and offers spectacular views of the north face. With binoculars, it’s even possible to see some daredevils climbing the face.

First to Bachalpsee

This easy trail is very popular among travelers as it delivers jaw-dropping views of alpine peaks and glaciers. The trail leading through meadows and alpine terrain has close to no elevation difference, so you can complete the hike in about 2 to 3 hours.

Murren to Grutschalp

Another popular day hike is the wooded stroll from the village Murren to Grutschalp,located high above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The route goes along the western plateau and crosses forests and grasslands. It offers plenty of photo opportunities of the famous peaks in the region. The hike runs parallel to the railway between both villages, making it possible to continue your journey by train half-way.

Grosse Scheidegg to Meiringen

This hike, leading through meadows and forests, is a good option for those who need a bit of a challenge. The trail is more difficult than most options in the region as it gains about 1300 meters of altitude. Hiking time is about 4 hours, but make sure to provide lots of time as you will be stopping frequently to enjoy the views.  The starting point is easily reachable by car or train from the village of Grindewald.

Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg

Lauterbrunnen valley
Lauterbrunnen valley Photo by Shannon and Fee

A short and easy hike in the Lauterbrunnen valley where you will be granted an almost continuous view of the surrounding rock walls. You will pass by some beautiful waterfalls, including the famous Staubbacg-h Fall, situated just outside Lauterbrunnen.

Things to do in the Mönch region

While hiking in this part of the Alps is an unforgettable experience, there are many other activities to fill your day. Whether your legs need a break or you just want to enjoy some alpine views without too much effort, the Jungfraujoch railway is a must when visiting the Jungfrau region. This scenic train journey brings you to the highest railway station in Europe (3454m). From this point, you get tremendous views of the neighbouring peaks Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau. With a guarantee of snow and ice, a visit to the Top of Europe building is the ultimate activity during your stay in the Berner Oberland.

Just west of the saddle is the Sphinx station, one of the highest astronomical observatories in the world. The Top of Europe building a little higher up has several panoramic restaurants and hiking trails leading over a crevassed glacier to the Möncsjoch Hut.

Along the way to the Top of Europe buildingis Kleine Scheidegg, another railway station at 2061meters. It is situated directly at the base of the notorious Eiger North Face and the starting point of the Jungfraubahn.

The village of Interlaken, a short distance from Grindelwald, is the closest city to the Jungfrau. The name is derived from the fact that two lakes, Brienzersee and Thunersee, are connected by the river Aare that flows through the city. Interlaken has a charming atmosphere. From its center, it’s possible to see the summit of the Jungfrau. The Höheweg, an avenue between both stations, affords great views of the peak.

Hiking with kids

In the Jungfrau region, great views don’t only come with strenuous walks. Even if you are traveling with children, some easy hikes will give you and your family the possibility of seeing some of the best mountain landscapes. The hike from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg is a classic amongpanoramic walks. This easy and short hike will enchant you with tremendous views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. From the village Wengen, the cable lift will take you up to Männlichen, the starting point of the hike. The hike takes about 1hour 30 minutes from where you can take the train back to Grindelwald or Wengen. Close to the Kleine Scheidegg, your final destination, there is the mountain restaurant Grindelwaldblick, a recommended place to stop for lunch.

Aletschhorn – At the largest glacier in the Alps

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Aletschhorn

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Aletschhorn 46.465100, 7.993700

The Aletschhorn is situated in the Bernese Alps, in the Jungfrau-Aletsch region,designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Surrounded by famous peaks such as the Gletscherhorn, Mönch, Jungfrau and Eiger, and located nearby the Aletsch glacier, the largest glacier in the Alpshas an amazing setting for an active holiday.

About the Aletschhorn

The Aletschhorn is a 4193-meter peak situated in the Bernese Alps. The second-highest in this region after the Finsteraarhorn,it lies in the middle of glaciers, including the Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps. This remote location is one of the reasons why the mountain is less frequently climbed. Another is the proximity of reputated peaks such as the Eiger, the Jungfrau and the Mönch, only 10 km to the north.

The Aletschhorn was ascended successfully for the first time nearly 50 years after the first ascent of the Jungfrau. It was in 1859 that Francis Fox Tuckett, JJ Bennen, V. Tairraz and P. Bohren reached its summit. As there were no options to spend the night on the mountain at that time, they passed the night in some holes in the rocks above the Mittel Aletsch Glacier, before continuing their climb the next morning.

Accommodations in the region of the Aletschhorn

Bettmeralp

The beautiful and car-free Bettmeralp has developed over the years into a tourist village. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage list since it is located near the famous Jungfrau. Nature lovers will absolutely adore the setting of this region; and with the proximity of a cabel car, hiking trails are just around the corner.

Grindelwald

Grindelwald is a village in the canton Bern, located at the base of the Jungfrau. From the village center, one can take a train via Kleine Scheidegg to the railway station Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe. Not only is it a popular base for hikers, but climbers who have set their mind on the notorious Eiger North Face start their quest here as well.

Grindelwald has several types of accommodations. Besides hotels, there is the option to spend your nights at one of the three campsites: camping Eigernordwand, camping Gletscherdorf or camping Holdrio.

Konkordia Hut

The Konkordia Hut is a mountain refuge in the canton of Valais, situated above Konkordiaplatz,where several glaciers meet in the Aletsch glacier system. It is located about 2850 meters above sea level and its remote location makes it a long way from villages. The shortest way to reach the cabin is via the Jungfraujoch railway station (4 hours).

Lötschenhütte Hollandia

This mountain hut at 3240 meters above sea level is often used as a base for ascents to Aletschhorn, Mittaghorn and Gletscherhorn. However, its remote location is such that hikers and climbers have to make quite a journey to reach it. It takes no less than 7 hours to attain the hut from the valley. However, most make a overnight stop at the Annenhütte or reach the cabin from Jungfraujoch or Konkordia (4-5 hours).

Finsteraarhornhütte

Few mountain huts have such an amazing setting as the Finsteraarhornhütte. The refuge allows visitors to enjoy splendid views typical of the Oberland region: huge glaciers and high mountain peaks. The hut is often reached by mountaineers looking for an overnight stay before summiting the Finsteraarhorn via the normal route. However, the location at 3048 meters of altitude, and the views that come along with it, make it a great goal to set for hikers as well.

Hiking in the Aletschhorn region

With peaks like the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch nearby, hikers cannot wish for a better setting for their hiking holiday. The charming villages of the Berner Oberland are a great starting point for day hikes or mult-day routes in the Aletschhorn region.

Hike to Konkordia Hut

Few mountain huts are more remote than the Konkordia Hut. It is located above the Aletsch glacier system where several glaciers meet, about 150 meters above the ice. The route from the Jungfrau railway station is the shortest and therefore the most popular. However, all access routes to the hut are over glaciated terrain, so experience of crossing it is necessary. Hiring a guide is another option.

Eigertrail

The Eiger trail is a moderate mountain hike at the base of the notorious North Face. It’s a 2 to 3 hour hike leading from the Eigergletscher station (Jungfrau railway) to Alpiglen at 1615 meters or Grindelwald. It is well-marked and offers spectacular views of the north face. With binoculars it’s even possible to see daredevils climbing the face.

First to Bachalpsee

This popular, easy trail is very popular among travelers as it delivers jaw-dropping views of alpine peaks and glaciers. The trail, leading through meadows and alpine terrain, has close to no elevation difference, which means you can complete the hike in about 2 to 3 hours.

Murren to Grutschalp

Another popular day hike is the wooded stroll from the village Murren to Grutschalp, located high above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The route goes along the western plateau and crosses forests and grasslands. If offers plenty of photo opportunities of the famous peaks in the region. The hike runs parallel to the railway between both villages, making it possible to continue your journey by train half-way.

Grosse Scheidegg to Meiringen

This hike leading through meadows and forests is a good option for hikers who need a bit of a challenge. The trail is more difficult than most options in the region as it gains about 1300 meters of altitude. Hiking time is about 4 hours, but make sure to provide lots of time as you will be stopping a lot to enjoy the views.  The starting point of the trail is easily reachable by car or train from the village of Grindewald.

Things to do in the Aletschhorn region

While hiking in this part of the Alps is an unforgettable experience, there are many other activities to fill up your day. Whether your legs need a break or you just want to enjoy some alpine views without too much effort, the Jungfraujoch railway is a must when visiting the Jungfrau region. This scenic train journey brings you to the highest railway station in Europe (3454m). From this point you get tremendous views of the neighbouring peaks Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau. With a guarantee of snow and ice, a visit to the Top of Europe building is the ultimate activity during your stay in the Berner Oberland.

Just west of the saddle is the Sphinx station, one of the highest astronomical observatories in the world. The Top of Europe building a little higher up has several panoramic restaurants and hiking trails leading over the crevassed glacier to the Möncsjoch hut.

Along the way to the Top of Europe buildingis Kleine Scheidegg, another railway station at 2061m. It is situated directly at the base of the notorious Eiger North Face and the starting point of the Jungfraubahn.

The village of Interlaken, at a short distance of Grindelwald, is the closest city to the Aletschhorn. The name is derived from the fact that two lakes, Brienzersee and Thunersee are connected by the river Aare which flows through the city. Interlaken has a charming atmosphere hanging in its streets. From its center, it’s possible to see the summit of the Jungfrau. Especially the Höheweg, an avenue between both stations affords great views on the peak.

And ofcourse the Aletsch glacier is not to be missed during a visit to this region. There are several good lookout points to be enjoyed, like the Bettmerhorn above Bettmeralp. Another option is a panoramic view from Fiesh, reached by cablecar to Eggishorn.

Hiking with kids

Great views often come with great effort although that is not always the case. When traveling with children, families often look for hikes that don’t require too much exertion. But why give up on tremendous views? The hike to Cabane de Mönch might seem like a huge effort due to its location at 3650 meters, but the proximity of the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in the Alps, makes the hike an easy and short one (45minutes). It might well be the best option to combine amazing views of some notable peaks with a short trail leading to it.