Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
In 10 Days across Switzerland
Display Avatars Sort By:
always weekend
(alwaysweekend) - MLife
In 10 Days across Switzerland on 09/15/2013 12:43:21 MDT Print View

First of all Im not a native english speaker so sorry for my spelling!

In 10 Days across Switzerland
Taking the Via Alpina green route across Switzerland. 370km and 26500hm over 14 alpine passes and through pristine valleys - from Montreux to Sargans.


This route has been a dream since I first heard of it a few years ago. It was not important for me to do it in under 10 days or as fast as possible, instead I was driven to turn a dream into real - walking home from Montreux. I planned everything from my calorie intake to my daily mileage and my resupply points. I did this trip from 9.2 to 09.11.13
It turned out do be harder, more impressive and fulfilling then I ever thought.

The Route
route across Switzerland
route across Switzerland

The official website says the trail is 370km (230mi) long. If you ask me its shorter.
They also say its about 27000m (81000ft) of ascent and descent, this time, in my opinion, its more!
Most people walk the trail from Sargans to Montreux but because I life near Sargans I turned it around and walked from Montreux towards home. The route goes over 14 alpine passes of which everyone is higher than 2000m (6000ft). After reaching a pass the trail drops right down into the next valley only to climb up again on the other side.
I divided the whole stretch into 10 stages. Sometimes I hiked further sometimes I knocked down before. I will not metion where I camped because its actually forbidden for most parts of the way….so I did mostly stealth camping. Pitched up my tarptent after sunset and was hiking away quite early. This way its no problem at all! Some farmers even offer you a place to stay after you talked to them.

1 . Montreux - LEtivaz
view down from Rocher de Naye
view down from Rocher de Naye

I started my journey 9 o’clock at the trainstation in Montreux. First I went down to lake Leman. I like to start as close to the French border as possible. After a couple minutes on the lake I started to climb up towards Rochers de Naye. Its a 1600m (4800ft) ascent and, even for a guy who is grown up in the alps, very steep. I also was not used to a backpack this early into the hike. But the views were just amazing!
lac del l`Hongrin
lac del l`Hongrin

My legs were pretty good on the first day and soon I reached a good spot for the night near LEtivaz

2. LEtivaz - Lenk
concrete work up in the mountains
concrete work up in the mountains

After a good night of sleep I headed towards Col de Jable. The weather was amazing and my motivation was high.

The walk over Wasseregrat was one of the best I ever did. The views were just stunning. There is no water for about 2hours so I carried about 1.5l of extra weight over the crest. There was nobody else up there. I did enjoy long hours without seeing anybody. It was pretty late as I reached Lenk so I went to the campground for a quick shower and soon hit the sleepingbag.

3. Lenk - Kandersteg
The Trail from Lenk to Adelboden and from Adelboden to Kandersteg is very pobular in Switzerland but I didn’t encounter very many people, mostly because it was a workday and no holiday.
hikers Highway from Lenk to Adelboden
hikers Highway from Lenk to Adelboden
Pass “Bunderchrinde” 2385m

It was another “bluesky” day and very hot uncommon for this time of the year. Shorts and T-shirt up at 2385m (7200ft)
view towards “Kandertal”
view towards Kandertal

On the downhill I was a little bit in a hurry because I had do get into town befor 6pm to get my resupplybox from the post office. A couple minutes befor closing time I reached Kandersteg and was lucky to find a full resupply packet waiting for me.

4. Kandersteg - Lauterbrunnen
This day is gonna be the longest and hardest on the whole trip. I had food for four days in my pack und will cross the two highest passes on the Via Alpina. I will walk past three mountain huts namely: Blüemlisalp SAC, Gspaltenhorn SAC and Rotstock SAC
early morning at Öschinensee
early morning at Oeschinensee

The trail up to Hohtülipass (2778m) was pretty busy and I did cross and pass alot of other hikers. Some did even carry glacier equipment such as ice axes and crampons... well there are enough glaciers around to use that stuff.
view back to Kandersteg with “Heartlake” on the left
view back to Kandersteg

stairs down from Hohtürli leading to Griesalp
stairs down from Hohtuerli leading to Griesalp

Instead of going all the way down to Griesalp like the Via Alpine trail does I choose to cross the glacier higher and took a shortcut to Gspaltenhornhütte SAC
avalanche victim (skull of a “Gämse”)
avalanche victim

ladder down a moraine
ladder down a moraine

wildlife crossing the path
wildlife crossing the path

After a long push from Gspaltenhornhütte SAC over Serfinenfurggel I reached Rotstockhütte SAC and was definitely ready for a big coke and a coffee. From Rotstockhütte SAC it was a 90min hike down to Mürren were I took the train down to Lauterbrunnen. This was the first of three times I used public transportation during the whole ten days.

5. Lauterbrunnen - Meiringen
I was still a little bit tired from the day befor so I took the train up to kleine Scheidegg. This was by far the most boring day on the trip. Wide walking paths and alot of road crossing the whole day. To get away from the big crowd I took the highroute called the Eigertrail from kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald.
Nothing special honestly. You just walk along the face of the Eiger your not even able to see it while walking because its right above all you see is a ordinary alpine trail.

kleine Scheidegg
kleine Scheidegg

trail along the road up to grosse Scheidegg
trail along the road up to grosse Scheidegg

I took a long nap on the top a couple hundert yards away from the restaurant. The way down to Meiringen was in my opinion still not very interesting . I needed alot of energy to maintain discipline and not taking the bus.

6. Meiringen - Engelberg
From Meiringen up to Planplatten it was a strenuous 1600m (4800ft) ascent. I started early and saw only a couple hikers all the way to the top . This is how I like it. From Planplatten the trail follows mainly the ridge all the way to Tannensee and Engstlenalp. From Engstlenalp the way goes over Jochpass down to Trüebsee and further down to Engelberg.
Planplatten. View back to grosse Scheidegg
View back to grosse Scheidegg


Trail leads to Jochpass
trail leads to Jochpass

7.Engelberg - Altdorf
Day seven was the first day it rained on me. The trail follows a nice valley which also was nice to see while there was alot of clouds an fog hanging down the mountains. Down from Surenenpass the trail follows a nice crest but I was not able to see much because of the fog but I could almost feel how exposed I was.

trail to Surenenpass
trail to Surenenpass

Church along the way
Church along the way

trail over Rüteli
trail over Rueteli

it clears of for a moment
it clears of for a moment

8. Altdorf - Lintthal
Altdorf was my second resupply point an I loaded up the last 3 days of food and a set of batteries for my GPS. Because it was still raining and foggy I took the Bus up to Klausenpass. I saved alot of time this way and decided to take the Clariden Highroute which will lead me to Urnerboden over Gemsfairhüttli and Fisetenpass.
Church on Klausenpass
Church on Klausenpass

Clariden Highroute
Clariden highroute


9. Linthtal - Matt
This was my second last day and I felt already bad about it. There was some fresh snow up on the high mountains and the temperature was dropping fast. I almost walked till dark and camped 800m (2400ft) underneath Richetlipass.

fresh snow on the mountains
fresh snow on the mountains

camp before Richetlipass
camp before Richetlipass

Richetlipass second last pass for this trek
Richetlipass second last pass for this trek

10. Matt - Flums
I started the last day pretty early but forced me to walk slowly and to enjoy the last day. This stage is not really the Via Alpina trail (which would go over Foopass to Sargans) but it will lead me straight to my hometown.
Like the last nine days the trail goes through a valley and gets steeper and steeper till it reaches the pass.
There was some fresh snow on the ground and the trail was covered in white. Luckily Im very familiar with this area and navigation was no issue at all.
trail up to the last pass
trail up to the last pass

done! Its all downhill now.
done! Its all downhill now

Gear List & Review

Its interesting all the guys from the US and Canada like the brands from Europe (like Mammut) and all the guys from Europe like the stuff from North America (Patagonia, Arcteryx)
I dont care about the brand and just use what works best for me.
My pack weight was about 8.2kg or 18pounds. Wow thats heavy but hey those are the alps and I did encounter heavy rain and temperature between -1C up to 30C

Shelter: 870g
Tarptent Notch + solide inner 830g
+Groundsheet 40g
Nothing to say about that! Just a great tent. Would take it again.

Sleepingbag: 960g
Cumulus Panyam 450 860g
+ Silk Liner 100g
Overkill but was already available. Would take a quilt next time and save up to 300g

Sleepingpad: 475g
Exped SynmatUL7
Also on the heavy side but was also already there. I also own a Z-lite but the 100g more are worth the comfort.

Backpack: 1300g
Granit Gear Blaze A.C 60l
+hipbelt pockets
Once again heavy but I just love it!

Stove & Cookingkit: 780g
Vargo ti alc stove
2x120ml alc bottle
Trangia ul pot
Alu windscreen
Alu lid
Snowpeak cup 450
Swiss pocket knife
2l nalgene folding bottle
Almost perfect for me and you get alc in every town (drugstore). Stove takes long to prime. And you need round 35ml alc to get it going but then you have a lot left on the end.
Would only take one 900ml pot instead of the trangia pot and a 450ml cup.
Took a regular swiss pocket knife...a smaller one would also do it. Did not use it alot

Clothes: 2060g
2x Inov running socks (1x worn)
Smartwool heavy socks (sleeping)
2x icebreaker underwear
Odlo long underwear
OR zip/off pants
Pearl izumi running shorts (worn)
Patagonia t-shirt (worn)
Patagonia Zip-Neck longsleeve
Patagonia R1 hoody
Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
ME fleece hat
Marmot fleece gloves
Arcteryx cap (worn)
ME Rainfall pants
Montane Air Jacket
LaSportiva Wildcat 2.0 (worn)
Inov gaiters (worn)

Electronics: 1070g
Ipod shuffle+ears
Camera Panasonic tz22
Petzl headlamp
Charger for iphone/ipod/fenix
Belkine4000 accupack
Garmin Oregon 300
Batterys for the GPS

Toiletries: 400g

misc: 350g

All together I was pretty happy with all my gear and would take everything again except the gps. I also would leave the belkine4000 accupack at home and just only use the altimeter on the fenix.
A 600g quilt would also be nice. And I might give the z-lite another try just get used to it before at home.

Food & Resupply

I purchased all my food before the trip and sent it with some other supplies(e.g maps, batteries, razor) to Kandersteg from Kandersteg I forwarded it to Altdorf.
You could go far lighter if you would just buy as you go and eat lunch up in the huts. But for me this was the best way so I could control my calorie intake and learn alot for further trips. I also walked through towns before/after opening hours. I almost never carried more than 0.5l of water. There is plenty of water all over. I just drank right from the streams.
I did manage to eat up to 3800kcal a day which was about 900grams of food each day. I only had a couple crackers left after 10days. On the longest stretch I had four days of food in my pack. On the way I only bought 4 Kiwis, 1 Avocado, 1 Coffee, 1 Coke, 1 Milkshake and 2 Croissant.

Homemade müesli with milkpowder 145g/640kcal
Homemade trailmix: 140g/680kcal
Trek'n eat oat snack: 65g/265kcal
Darvida crackers: 80g/500kcal
Swiss milk chocolate: 50g/250kcal
Linzertorte/pastry: 60g/250kcal
Cornybar: 50g/220kcal
Travellunch: 250g/approx. 1000kcal (double serving)


Navigation was almost never an issue. The trail is very well marked. I carried a set of 1:25000 maps which cover the whole way as also a Garmin Oregon300. I used my altimeter on the Garmin Fenix alot to see how far up the next pass is or how much descent lies ahead of me. A nice to have but not necessary. The papermaps would just do it.
I did also GPS record some stretches using the Garmin Fenix watch. To charge the fenix I used a Belkine4000 accupack which is on 130g pretty light.

Final thought
I had a fantastic time out there and would do it again! Everthing went smooth. I was suprised how good my legs were. Next time I would try to avoid some of the road sections around kleine Scheidegg and Meiringen. Weather was awesome and I think September is the best time for such a trip. Not as hot anymore an the chances of thunderstorms are smaller than in July/August.
Well and Im looking for a longer trip next time ;-)

If anybody is interested in some gps track just drop me a line

Thanks for reading!

Edited by alwaysweekend on 09/15/2013 14:02:30 MDT.

Stuart R
(Scunnered) - F

Locale: Scotland
Re: In 10 Days across Switzerland on 09/15/2013 13:39:58 MDT Print View

Fantastic photos, thanks for sharing.

I was not entirely clear when you made this trip - September?

always weekend
(alwaysweekend) - MLife
09.02 to 09.11 on 09/15/2013 14:01:14 MDT Print View

yeah starting date was the 9.2


Edited by alwaysweekend on 09/15/2013 14:01:46 MDT.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: In 10 Days across Switzerland on 09/15/2013 14:42:11 MDT Print View

Really nice! Thanks for sharing.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: In 10 Days across Switzerland on 09/15/2013 18:59:06 MDT Print View

Outstanding trek and report! I had an opportunity to do some hiking in the Bavarian Alps in the '90s. Your report has me motivated to return to Europe someday.

Thanks for sharing.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
In 10 Days across Switzerland on 09/15/2013 21:17:43 MDT Print View

Thanks so much for posting a trip report for something other than the common U.S. destinations! We've considered hiking in Switzereland, but have hesitated because we have heard that stealth camping is not easily done. Your report gives us hope! We will send you a PM at some point to ask some more questions. Probably no time for this trip for us in 2014, but maybe in 2015!
Thanks again, Amy&Jim

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Nice on 09/16/2013 14:10:37 MDT Print View

Good rapport, lots of useful information.

And most important..great photos! I especially like "Trail over Rueteli" - dreamy!


Kat ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Beautiful on 09/16/2013 15:05:03 MDT Print View

Thanks for the gorgeous pictures and the trip report.
Hope to see more from you.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: In 10 Days across Switzerland on 10/09/2013 22:22:12 MDT Print View

Is this going to be next weeks article? Or is it uncanny timing?

From the weekly e mail,

Next Week
Load Carry Frameless Packs
Ten Days Across Switzerland

Edit: This is the article. A new low for BPL. Recycling forum content for paying customers.

Edited by kthompson on 10/15/2013 13:56:18 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
A truly stunning trip. on 10/10/2013 12:40:57 MDT Print View

That looks like a truly stunning trip, executed with impeccable style. (And I'm impressed that you modified your date notation for us ignorant Americans: MM-DD-YY rather than DD-MM-YY, though I've personally come to strongly prefer ISO 8601's YYYY-MM-DD.) I wanted to do the Tour du Mont Blanc back when I lived in Germany but never found the time. So it's still on my life list, and it looks like now I'll have to add this one, too.


Edited by acrosome on 10/10/2013 12:44:27 MDT.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: In 10 Days across Switzerland on 10/10/2013 13:09:37 MDT Print View

Nice report. Thanks for sharing. That "view towards Kandertal" is tremendous!

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
In 10 Days across Switzerland on 10/10/2013 16:13:51 MDT Print View

Great report , thanks for sharing.
Close to where I grew up (Domodossola,Val Bognanco) so the landscape looks familiar.
Nice to see that you have one Exped item and a Swiss knife ...(I use the Opinel, sorry)
I tried your alcohol stove, found it slow and fiddly, much prefer the Caldera Cone system .
I would look at the Sidewinder now.

Andy Rhine
Money? on 10/17/2013 09:13:02 MDT Print View

How much cash something like this set me back? Rough idea.

Wim Depondt
(wim_depondt) - F - MLife

Locale: The low countries
Re: Money? on 10/18/2013 12:35:42 MDT Print View

"How much cash something like this set me back? Rough idea."

English is not my mother tongue. To avoid misconception, are you wondering about cost?

- Intl. flight to Geneva from MCI : 1300 USD
- Public transportation: Swiss Transfer Ticket will cover most of you travels to the trailheads: 152 USD
- 3x hotel nights: approx. 3x 70 USD providing you choose budget hotels & double occupancy => 210 USD pp.
- 9x hut half boarding: approx.. 70 USD/night => 630 USD. You might save a bit by camping – keep in mind that camping is most often illegal in Switzerland (and discrete camping spots not always obvious on in the Berneser Oberland alps). Another option is to bring your own food – keep in mind that Swiss huts normally do not offer self catering options. You might also save a small amount of overnight hut fees through membership of the Swiss Alpine Club (or a European mountain club with reciprocal rights in Switserland).
- 10x Lunch: aprox. 10 USD/night => 100 USD
- Misc. 10 USD/day x 13 => 130 USD

Total: +/- 2500 USD pp.

Conclusion: Switzerland is expensive. If cost is an important issue – and one wants to hike the European alps, then the Eurozone generally offers a better deal (although public (mountain) transportation is a major plus in Switzerland).

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Money? on 10/18/2013 14:49:44 MDT Print View

> - 9x hut half boarding: approx.. 70 USD/night
That seems a little bit high to me. But we are members of the Austrian Alpine Club which halved the bed costs - but not the food costs.

> keep in mind that Swiss huts normally do not offer self catering options.
I will disagree here. To the best of my knowledge, ALL Alpine Club huts have a self-catering area. It's mandatory, although they may not be very fancy. Private huts may not of course.

> Conclusion: Switzerland is expensive.
True, true. Slovenia is MUCH cheaper.


Wim Depondt
(wim_depondt) - F - MLife

Locale: The low countries
Re: Re: Re: Money? on 10/18/2013 23:47:42 MDT Print View

Hi Roger.

On average, I pay about 60 CHF for half boarding (non member) in Switzerland. That is 66 USD. Add some drinks and I believe 70 USD is realistic as a rough estimate.

I have personally never seen self catering kitchens/areas in Swiss mountain huts (at least during summer season, when huts are staffed), having spent many nights in Swiss mountain huts (Berneser Oberland, Wallis and Penine Alps).


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Money? on 10/19/2013 02:01:21 MDT Print View

Hi Wim

> I have personally never seen self catering kitchens/areas in Swiss mountain huts
Likely. I never said they were out the front with arrows pointing to them! They are often out the back or in the basement, and you have to ask. But we have used them at times, often if we get in early and Sue wants a cup of tea made HER way.

Cost ... frankly, we stopped worrying about it. The airfare from Aus to Europe is MUCH bigger. Sigh.


always weekend
(alwaysweekend) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Money? on 10/19/2013 12:39:00 MDT Print View

If you plan to eat every meal up in the huts and also sleep there its gonna be pretty expensive.
Most huts charge around 60-70 swissfrances (around half price for SAC Members) for dinner,bed(sometimes dorm)and breakfast.
There are alot of huts but they are not everywhere so you have to take hostels/hotels which is even more expensive.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Money? on 10/21/2013 02:51:39 MDT Print View

> If you plan to eat every meal up in the huts and also sleep there its gonna be pretty expensive.

Tried Club Med?