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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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
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.