Swiss Alps as impressive as the Rocky Mountains?

Swiss Alps as impressive as the Rocky Mountains?

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Debra
Debra
52 posts
active member
Mar 2, 2017 - 2:33 PM

i am committed to my trip to Switzerland having already purchased my airplane ticket; however I have found your trip report forum and have to say I am disappointed at the photos of the Jungfrau hiking. I have spent the past 3 summers hiking the Pacific Northwest and Rockies, summiting peaks over 14000 feet on trails so remote they are only accessed by 4wd vehicle, and fell in love with the mountains. With reports and warnings I've read about pickpockets and the photos of some rocky crags, I feel I may have made a mistake in choosing Switzerland this year, as it looks as though the Alps cannot compare to the taller mountain ranges in the western US.

Has anyone visited both and can you compare? I will be camping and staying some in huts as well, which was interesting, but some reviews are saying the food is terrible and it is crowded and not to bother? I would appreciate your honest opinion so I can lower my expectations if needed.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3821 posts
expert
Mar 2, 2017 - 5:11 PM in reply to Debra

Hi Debra-

Welcome to My Swiss Alps.

Hope we can provide some information to help you undertstand Swiss hikes.

A very good site for detailed information is Switzerland Mobility.

In it, you can find the major Alpine routes, searching by name, name of towns, or by choosing routes on the map.

map.wanderland.ch/?lang=de&route=all&bgLa yer=pk&resolution=100& X=614800&Y=154500&laye rs=Wanderland.

The very best topo map, with many esoteric options, is Swiss topo:

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=ech&lang=en&bgLa yer=ch.swisstopo.pixel karte-farbe&layers=ch.bav.ha ltestellen-oev,ch.swisstopo.swiss tlm3d-wanderwege&layers_visi bility=false,true

I have opened the hiking trails info layer. Blue are technical climbing....is that what you seek?

If not, red trails have varying degres of difficulty, while green trails can be done with no equipment or special footwaer ( if you are so foolish.)

There is no question that the trails have plenty of hikers. The whole country s only the size of Montana. or maybe Montana plus part of Wyoming. The trail network is dense. Since some of the trails are in areas that do not permit automobliles, access can be by public ttransport, including cableways.

Whether or not you like the huts will be a matter of personal preference. They provide a very useful function, not luxury accomodation. Food is basic. They certainly minimize the load on your back for a multiday hike; "wild" camping is not impossible in Switzerland, but it can be regulated in some areas.

Some forum members are experienced distance hikers; Iam not.

I'm sire thathey will jump in.

There have been threads in this forum on multiday alpine hikes, but I don't have time to look them up at the moment.

here are a few that I remember:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/haute-route-chamonix-zermatt

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/zermatt-and-5-lakes

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/dufourspitze -west-ridge-pd-uiaa-iiiii

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/2013-epic-sibling-adventure-via-alpina-v-maggia

Slowpoke

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/monch-and-gross-fiescherhorn

Once you identify a route, you can altitude profiles and quite detailed topo maps.

Lucas
Lucas
3460 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 2, 2017 - 5:24 PM in reply to Debra

Hi Debra,

I am from Vancouver, Canada and have spent a fair bit of time in the Canadian Rockies.

The mountains here are on par with anything I have seen in Canada.There are 8 mountains in Switzerland that are above 14,000 feet - 4275 meters doesn't sound as impressive I will give you that! :)

Canada and the US mountain ranges are certainly bigger (in geographic area) and much more remote. One can easily spend weeks in the mountains and not see anyone else.
However, there are too many people in too small an area in Europe and Switzerland for areas not be busy in the summer season. I have to say I do enjoy hiking up a mountain here and finding a restaurant at the top! :) It'll be a new experience for you to try out :)
Also, literally every Swiss likes to go hiking....so a lot of people you bump into will be locals.

I haven't heard much about pick pockets when hiking in Switzerland (or anywhere in Switzerland) but I suppose there are always some where there are tourists around.

I haven't tried any food in the mountain huts - I love German food though so I would probably like it :).
In the summer the most popular trails are quite busy with hikers and tourists. For better or worse a lot of hikes are easily accessible in Switzerland with their gondolas and cogwheel trains running everywhere.

I would focus on avoiding the most popular hiking trails where possible - we have a few resident hiking experts on this board that can give you some specific recommendations I am sure. But I think you will be impressed when you are here - just don't expect to not bump into people regularly on your hikes.

Regards,
Lucas

Last modified on Mar 2, 2017 - 7:56 PM by Arno
Debra
Debra
52 posts
active member
Mar 2, 2017 - 5:29 PM

where would you say it is more permissable to wild camp?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3821 posts
expert
Mar 2, 2017 - 5:35 PM in reply to Debra

Hi Debra -

Please search in this forum with the term "Wild Camping."

if you also search on the internet for similar terms "wild camping in Switzerland" you will find a lot of contradictory information.

That's the best I can do; it is not simple.

This link may come close to an answer:

www.myswissalps.com/ca mpsites

Slowpoke

Last modified on Mar 2, 2017 - 9:09 PM by Slowpoke
Snowman
Snowman
36 posts
active member
Mar 5, 2017 - 9:54 PM in reply to Debra

Debra,

< the Alps cannot compare to the taller mountain ranges in the western US >

Sure. Any mountain range is unique, so they can't be compared. I am Swiss and have hiked in the Rockies (Glacier National Park), as well as in the Karakoram in Pakistan.

Switzerland is a small country, nothing can be "remote" the way you can be remote in the Rockies. And you chose the Jungfrau region. It is in the Bernese Alps range, where the peaks, however famous they are, are indeed lower than the 14000 ft you mention. In addition, the area is very touristic, with cogwheel trains and cablecars, well, not everywhere, but let's say you can't miss them, and they bring a lot of tourists, whether mountaineers or not. You won't find the wilderness of the Rockies in the Jungfrau region. Almost everywhere, you will be able to see towns or villages down the valley. But even there you will easily find trails that are not accessible to even 4WD vehicles (but we have helicopters if needed!)

The higher ranges are further south, they make the border between Switzerland and Italy. There, you will find a dozen of peaks that are higher than Mt Elbert in Colorado (4401 m). If you are looking for high elevations, you should go to Canton Valais (but not Zermatt which would be as crowded as the Jungfrau region: prefer Zinal or Evolène). If you prefer wilderness, go to the Grisons in south-eastern Switzerland. For instance the Greina Pass on the Alpine Passes Trail described in the Switzerland Mobility web site: www.wanderland.ch/en/r outes/route-06.html There you will be away from the crowds, maybe even away from the cell phone network!

The most challenging I have done is in Northern Italy, just south of the Swiss border, in a side valley of the Valtellina valley: Sentiero Roma : www.summitpost.org/sen tiero-roma/160894 Not the easiest hike you could think of. The trail is a bit crowded in summer, but by mountaineers only!

It seems you have booked to Jungfrau. I am sure you will also enjoy it. What I prefer is to be on a trail from which you can see both Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. The former is green, the latter is blue: amazing!

Debra
Debra
52 posts
active member
Mar 6, 2017 - 1:43 PM in reply to Snowman

Thank you for the reply! I am coming to the Jungfrau after completing the Tour du Mont Blanc, which is my primary reason for coming to the region this year. I had extra time and read about the Jungfrau having the best hikes so that's why I was planning there. i only have a few campground days booked in that area, so my itinerary is still flexible. Do you have any other suggestions regarding particular trails? The Via Alpina, is that something you think I would prefer more?

Debra
Debra
52 posts
active member
Mar 6, 2017 - 3:44 PM in reply to Snowman

Would you suggest a starting point of the via alpina in the Jungfrau say Kleine scheidegg and up to Kandersteg? Or do you think I should avoid the Jungfrau altogether?

Last modified on Mar 6, 2017 - 3:45 PM by Debra
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3821 posts
expert
Mar 6, 2017 - 4:25 PM in reply to Debra

<<"Would you suggest a starting point of the via alpina in the Jungfrau say Kleine scheidegg and up to Kandersteg? Or do you think I should avoid the Jungfrau altogether?">>

Hi Debra-

This may help you with details of the various legs of the Via Alpina:

www.wanderland.ch/en/r outes/route-01.html

Please note that you can get detailed maps and also altitude profiles from the pages for each section.

Slowpoke

Snowman
Snowman
36 posts
active member
Mar 6, 2017 - 8:41 PM in reply to Debra

Hi Debra,

Not knowing you I won't guess what you would like more...

Also, I couldn't find how many days you have available.

That said, the Via Alpina should be nice. I have done the Mürren - Griesalp part (25 years ago...) with an American friend, I keep good memories. So, yes, the Kleine Scheidegg to Kandersteg part of Via Alpina should be attractive. I would however go the other way, from Grindelwald to Meiringen (1 day), and maybe onward to Engelberg (two more days). These sections are probably less crowded and have more of a wilderness character. However, Grindelwald is a major tourist resort, and Meiringen is a small town with an air force base, so be prepared for some noise. You can shorten the first day ba taking the Grindelwald-First gondola and take the First - Grosse Scheidegg trail. That would be according to my taste, not yours...

If you have only one day, you could take the funicular to Harder Kulm from Interlaken, and hike to Augstmatthorn, and from there down to Habkern. Back to Interlaken with postal bus. That would give you the view on the green and the blue lakes.

Enjoy!

Snowman
Snowman
36 posts
active member
Mar 6, 2017 - 8:58 PM in reply to Snowman

... and check out the very elaborate reports by Kim on the Wengen area, at following link on this website:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

Debra
Debra
52 posts
active member
Mar 6, 2017 - 10:24 PM in reply to Snowman

After the Mont Blanc, I have 8 days before I have to get to my airport hotel, plane leaves on the 9th day. After hiking, I was considering a side trip to Gruyeres and the Chillon castle, maybe stopping the night in each area to be a tourist after all the hiking. So that leaves me really 5 more hiking days, considering the first day after completing the TMB will be a travel day to reach my first hiking starting point.

AlanPrice
AlanPrice
142 posts
active member
Mar 7, 2017 - 8:05 AM in reply to Debra

Hi Debra,

The hike from Lauterbrunnen to Griesalp is one of the less travelled routes in the Oberland, although even here you will find the odd hiker or two. Starting from Lauterbrunnen, you walk to Mürren (Overnight there or Gimmelwald if you had a late start) then continue on to cross the Sefinenfurgge pass (bit of a long uphill scree slog) then down the other side. You used to be able to stay in the hayloft of the farm house at Oberdürrenberg, which I did once when a storm hit. The owners put mattreses in the loft in the summer. I don't know if they still do that, but it was fun. It's about halfway from the pass to Griessalp which is at the head of the road going down the valley and has a regular bus service. If you want to walk further, you can continue up to the Blumlisalphütte and down the other side to Kanderstegg and catch the train back to Lauterbrunnen.

Trying to compare Switzerland with the US is perhaps a little unfair. They are not the same, so don't be dissapointed if your experience there is different from back home. There are remote areas in Switzerland, particulary in the south east and the National Park, but nowhere in the Oberland can be considered "Wild". People have lived, worked and travelled in some of these valleys since the before the Bronze Age.

As far as pickpockets go, I'm always on my guard around major railway stations regardless of which country I'm in, although Switzerland is certainly a lot safer than just about anywhere I can think of . Outside of the bigger cities, petty crime against tourists is rare.

Alan

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