The gondola to the Bettmerhorn allows you to enjoy a first class view of the largest glacier in the Alps.
The forum allows you to post your questions and discuss your plans.
Attraction type: Natural site, Mountain top, By cable car
Escort: independent (no guide)
Region: Upper Rhone valley (Valais)
Duration: 1 day or less
What exactly is the Bettmerhorn?
The Bettmerhorn is one of the best locations to view the mighty Grosser Aletsch Glacier, which is the largest glacier in the Alps. The location you reach by cable car is called 'Bettmergrat', a ridge at an altitude of 2647 m. The actual summit of the Bettmerhorn is located 500 m up north at an altitude of 2858 m.
The Bettmerhorn is located on the edge of the UNESCO Natural World Heritage property "Jungfrau - Aletsch - Bietschhorn": an extraordinary high-alpine region which also includes the Eggishorn and the famous Jungfraujoch.
What to see and do on the Bettmerhorn
This is what to expect:
- A beautiful high-alpine world with views of the glacier and the peaks of the Bernese Oberland and the Valais;
- The restaurant serves Swiss dishes while you enjoy the view from indoors;
- The "Ice Terrace" can be reached in 3 minutes on foot. It offers the best view of the glacier. It is not accessible in Winter;
- Exhibition about the glacier and the people who first explored it in the 19th century. In the “Ice Room”, a multi-media show about the glacier is being presented (not in Winter);
- In Summer: many hiking options. Examples: you can walk along the Aletsch Glacier to the north, to the Lake Märjelen. Or you can walk south along the glacier to Moosfluh (although walking the other way round is better). You can also walk down to the village of Bettmeralp;
- In Winter: the whole area is a Winter sports paradise with many ski slopes around Bettmeralp, Riederalp, Fiescheralp and even a few down from the Bettmerhorn.
The Grosser Aletsch Glacier
The Grosser ('Big') Aletsch Glacier is the largest glacier of the Alps. It's about 23 km (14 miles) long and 1 km (3300 ft) wide on average. It originates from the Konkordiaplatz, which can be viewed from the Jungfraujoch. The weight of the fresh snow in that area causes snow to be pressed to ice. This is an all year round process. The ice is 900 m (2950 ft) thick here. This massive layer of ice moves down with a speed of up to 50 cm per day.
Global warming is causing the glacier to shrink: about 50 m in length per year, and it is also getting narrower. This melting process is expected to even speed up over the next decades. The glacier is still impressive, but it's sad to see how CO2 emission caused by humanity is tearing down this natural landmark. It's good to know that you can help though.
How to choose between the Bettmerhorn and Eggishorn?
The Bettmerhorn and Eggishorn have some similarities, so you may wonder which one to visit. Both mountains are located south of the Aletsch Glacier and offer magnificent views of the glacier and a 360° view of the Alps. If you're staying in the region, it's absolutely worth visiting them both.
If you want to visit one of them, this may help: we like the view from the Eggishorn slightly better, because the location allows to look 'around the corner' of the curved glacier. So you'll see a bit more of it. On the other hand, visiting the Bettmerhorn is more varied: there's more to do on the top, and the short walk across the village of Bettmeralp, halfway up the mountain, is really enjoyable.
Be sure to check the weather forecast as there's no point in going up if the glacier and the Bettmerhorn are covered in clouds or mist. Dress in multiple thinner layers so that you can adapt to the different temperatures throughout the day. Take along gloves, sun glasses and perhaps a winter sports hat. Solid shoes help too.
Allow at least an hour to enjoy the view, but more to fully enjoy this beautiful place. If you take your time, count on half a day for the entire excursion from the valley in Betten and back.
The Bettmerhorn gondola station is located at an altitude of 2647 m. Anyone can suffer from (light) altitude sickness from about 2000 m. Usually it helps to take things slow and sit down for a while. Special precautions apply to children under 2 years old, as well as people who are pregnant or in poor health: before visiting areas over 2500 m, you'd better consult your doctor. In most cases though, staying at such altitudes for just a few hours is no problem.