Camping above the tree line in Switzerland

Camping above the tree line in Switzerland

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Posts: 9. This thread is closed.
jdongg
jdongg
2 posts
new member
Jun 1, 2015 - 8:20 PM

Hi all,

This July, I will be hiking the Swiss national route 1/via alpina/Alpenpassroute: www.via-alpina.org/en/page/246 /the-green-trail

I've got good hiking and camping experience and I have been hiking a little bit in Switzerland before but never more than day hikes. I know that there is, of course, an excellent system of mountain huts in Switzerland. However, I'd really prefer to camp when I can since I prefer the solitude and it's just more enjoyable to me that way.

I already know that Switzerland has pretty strict regulations on camping. From this SAC brochure, it seems like it's fine to camp above the tree line in the meadows: www.sac-cas.ch/nc/umwelt/natur vertraeglicher-bergsport/campieren-biwakieren.html?cid=1094&did=1011757&s echash=04c90579

I know it will be quite chilly at night and I'm definitely prepared for that in terms of gear/clothing. I just have some questions about the camping:

1) If there is a mountain hut nearby, how far would I generally have to camp away from it? Will the hut managers get annoyed if they see my tent from a distance? I'm obviously not planning to use any of the hut facilities, but I've heard that the hut managers may frown upon it

2) If anyone has ever hiked all or part of the trail, can you comment on feasibility of camping along the different stages of the trail? In terms of terrain, are there particular sections/stages that would be too rugged to consider camping on?

Much thanks for any help you guys can provide!

Last modified on Jun 1, 2015 - 9:43 PM by jdongg
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
Jun 1, 2015 - 11:57 PM in reply to jdongg

Might want to try a hut one night, in the middle, perhaps.

?

Arno
Arno
7707 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 3, 2015 - 7:18 AM

Hi jdongg,

Welcome to MySwissAlps! I do day hikes myself so I can't comment from practical experience. All I can say is that preparation is key here: find your spots from the map in advance, and have alternatives in case of bad weather or if you run into an area where it's not allowed. In that case you'd better stay in the valley or a hut. Various sections of the trail go above the tree line, so I think your plan is feasible if the weather cooperates. Personally I would not camp too close to a hut. Unless you need the facilities of course. I guess it's more enjoyable to be away from any kind of civilization if you're wild camping, and hut guests probably enjoy the views better without tents. The brochure you're referring to also has a comment about this.

Sorry I can't be of more help right now. Other hikers may find this thread and provide more details.

Have fun!

Last modified on Jun 3, 2015 - 7:19 AM by Arno
kim11
kim11
322 posts
top member
Jun 3, 2015 - 11:43 PM

Hi jdongg,

I have hiked the Via Alpina/Alpine Pass Route from Sargans to Montreux (activityworkshop.net/h iking/alpinepassroute/ index.html) The trek you are planning shares some of the same routing.

I would not even consider wild camping over any of the following passes:

Sefinenfurgee (Mürren to Griesalp stage)

Hohtürli (Griesalp to Kandersteg stage)

Bundechrinde (Kandersteg to Adelboden stage)

Above tree line these passes are very steep and full of slippery skree. It would make for a very unpleasant sleeping base and is often very windy.

And, as you might expect, the hiking over these passes is pretty rugged. These are the most difficult of all the passes in the Alpine Pass Route. You need to be a very experienced alpine hiker to enjoy these stages at all. And not afraid of heights!

Annika
Annika
4415 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 4, 2015 - 5:27 AM

Thanks Kim, that is great insiders info! I guess you should focus on the eastern part of the trail for wild camping, jdongg.

jdongg
jdongg
2 posts
new member
Jun 5, 2015 - 1:17 AM

Hi all, thanks a ton for all of your very helpful replies!

@Kim, it seems like it's actually forbidden to camp at Sefinenfurgee, Hohtürli, and Bundechrinde in any case. I emailed the Swiss Hiking Federation and they shared this helpful map with me: www.respektiere-deine-grenzen.ch/index.php?id=428&L=0

It shows precisely what areas are off limits for camping. I also did Kandersteg --> Griesalp as a day hike 2 years ago – hard work but definitely an incredible hike!

Also, can anyone comment on the weather? I'll be able to check the weather from my phone each day but just wondering about general trends. I'm prepared for a good amount of rain and have no probably hiking in it, but if it's torrential I'll make sure to factor in a lot of extra rain days.

And just wondering if frequent thunderstorms might make camping on some of the passes infeasible. It seems wild camping is permitted and possible on a good number of the passes, which I'm glad for. Just not sure how often I can bank on being able to do this

Thanks again everyone!

--Justin

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
Jun 5, 2015 - 8:27 AM in reply to jdongg

Thanks for the information about the "Where to Camp" map.

kim11
kim11
322 posts
top member
Jun 5, 2015 - 3:35 PM in reply to Slowpoke

If you've done Kandersteg to Hohtürli you know what you are in for! Good work. And thanks for sharing all your research on wild camping, I'm sure these posts will be helpful to others as well. Doesn't surprise me that they don't allow camping on the big three. There's a reason I suppose.

As for weather, the typical pattern in July is for late afternoon thunderstorms. Of course, you will want to be well off of the unprotected high passes once the lighting rolls in. In our experience these last an hour or two then blow on. But the mountains make their own weather and occasionally a system will get stalled. Then you can see rain for a few days in a row.

When we did the APR (August)we were blessed with amazing weather. We took 3 weeks to do it (algorithm of 3 days hiking followed by 1 day rest/kit change/laundry). We had clear skies the entire time save for one day (Klausenpass day) that it drizzled all day long. Just enough to cool us down! However, there were days (particularly over the big 3) that we had literally all of our gear on and off twice in one day. Went from shorts and T-shirts to layers + fleece + Goretex + hats + gloves. Twice. Crazy. Sounds like you are ready for that, though.

Arno
Arno
7707 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 7, 2016 - 8:03 AM

A related discussion can be found on myswissalps.com/forum/ topic/camping-in-alps.

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