Category Archives: Switzerland

Val da Camp and Lagh da Saoseo

Sfazù (1622m) – Rifugio Saoseo – Camp – Lagh da Val Viola (2159m) – Val Viola (2258m) – Lagh da Saoseo (2028m) – Terzana – Sfazù (1622m)

Length: 15km / Ascent & descent: 773m / walking time: 5 hours

Arrived at Sfazù (1622m), today’s trailhead, by bus from Pontresina. The scenery to get there was already impressive. We passed by the glacier and went through the isolated, lonesome area of the very eastern corner of Switzerland.

Sfazu

Mini-buses run to Camp Alp but it was booked out so I walked this one-hour stretch. The sunny weather lured many hikers in the same direction.

Soon two Swiss women joined me. We started talking while walking and I found out that one of the women from St. Gallen has a 28-year-old godchild who is a big Japan fan and lives in Nagasaki for 3 years!

In our last three hikes my hiking buddy Rieko-san and I met Swiss hikers whose adult children love Japan and learn Japanese. It is an amazing coincidence and I am happy to know that there are so many Japan fans in Switzerland!

After passing by Rifugio Saoseo, relatively easily I arrived at the beautiful green lake, Lagh da Val Viola. A great place for picnic lunch and I lazed around for one hour at the lakeside.

Today, the Val da Viola circles around the lake in a very autumn colors atmosphere. From the highest point of today’s trail (2258m) I see the snow-capped Piz Palù (but not Piz Bernina!) and the Morteratsch Glacier.  The main purpose of this hike was to see the Lake Saoseo, but this part of the trail on this valley was another highlight!

After a quite steep and slippery descent, the famous Lagh da Saoseo appeared. I saw a breath-taking photo of this lake two years ago and since then wanted to see it with my own eyes. Apparently, Saoseo is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Graubünden. Painfully cold it was as well, when I put my feet in!

Hanging out a long time here enjoying the sun, I left the lake and headed down another route to Sfazu. This route along the stream was beautiful, with small bridges and some isolated typical stone farm houses.

As I stayed too long at the lakeside, I just made it to the bus five minutes before it arrived!

The trail details:
https://wegwandern.ch/listing/sfazu-rif-saoseo-lagh-da-saoseo-sfazu/

Martinsloch & Segnespass

Tschinglen (Elm), 1394 m – Segnespass 2625 m – Naraus (Flims) , 1838m
1200m ascent / 800m descent
Total hiking time: 6 hours (excluding lunch & snack breaks)
Total km: 12km – Average speed: Very, very low…

A physically strenuous but spectacular hike over the famous Segnespass between Elm and Flims. The highlight is the gigantic rock window Martin’s Hole (22m x 19m) up close, created by two rock layers pushed above one another.  Pure power of nature!

More on this hike route:
https://wegwandern.ch/listing/6-etappe-sardona-welterbe-weg-elm-martinsloch-segnespass-flims-wanderung-wandern/

Edelweissweg & Wisshornweg (Trift)

Zermatt (1620m) – Alterhaupt Edelweiss (1961m) –  Trift (2337m) – Schweifinen (2503m) – Zermatt
900m ascent / 900m descent
13 km / 6 hrs

After going through beautiful houses with balcony full of cheerful flowers in the east side of Zermatt, we found a path, leading steep uphill to the restaurant Alterhaupt Edelweiss. It perches on the rock above Zermatt, its white building visible from anywhere.

After a refreshing home-made ice tea, the path follows the narrow gorge and its serene stream. Here, there is no gondola nor mountain trains, nothing but quiet nature. That is not so easy to find in an area as developed as Zermatt.

The higher we go, the valley opens up and we see several impressive peaks and glaciers.

After some serious uphill, we arrived at the pink Trift Mountain Hut. I realised that I had been here more than 10 years ago.

We hang out in the wide basin near the hut for a long time, basking ourselves in the warm sun, having our delicious self-made sandwiches (away from the crowded mountain hut restaurant), taking many photos, listening to the hut owner playing the alphorn.

We changed our original plan which was to head back down the same way we came up and continued up a bit to walk a loop.

Above at Schweifinen (2503m), we have a phenomenal view of the entire east valley: Matterhorn, Klein Matterhorn, Riffelberg, all the way down to Winkelmatten where we stay. I was very happy that Philippe suggested this little scenic detour.

From there the path was steeeep downhill!  With Zermatt visible 900m below, we started that long zig-zagging down the mountain. While descending the narrow path I slipped on a tree root and got a mountain gift in form of a blue ankle for weeks…

We were relieved to be back in town to put our feet up…

Hörnlihütte (3260m)

Convinced that Matterhorn is the most beautiful mountain in the world, Yasuko’s birthday wish was to spend a few days in Zermatt. Our friend Patrick was so kind to let us stay at his studio with a fantastic view of that magnificent mountain. We could have sat in the studio just watching that magnificent mountain from the window, but not with Yasuko, of course.

For non-climbers, the closest you can get to the Matterhorn, is the Hörnlihütte, the base camp for the Matterhorn peak ascent. That’s not something one needs to tell my darling twice. So the  birthday wish became a hike, as the weather forecast promised a sunny day. We packed the sandwiches and off we went…

 

The Hörnlihütte has been renovated a few years ago, is very modern and serves nice and simple Swiss food (Rösti and similar stuff, that is). Every hiker takes that same picture on the terrace with the Matterhorn in the background. Except us, we took many 😁.

We were a bit worried about the descent, as there are some really steep and scary parts, with a ladder, ropes and almost vertical drops of a few hundred meters right next to the secured path. But it all turned out to be quite manageable. We just avoided looking down for too long.

On the way down, Yasuko expressed a wish for her next birthday. The guess is yours…

Findeln Glacier hike & Chez Vrony

Blauherd – Stellisee – Fluhalp – Findeln – Winkelmatt

It started in the complete fog, when we got out of the gondola at Blauherd this morning….

but soon it cleared out and picturesque lake Stellisee reflected the Matterhorn in its water!

Our plan was to do the 5-lake hike but we saw the tempting glacier beyond the lake so we walked up to the moraine which is simply…

… spectacular. Rocks, stones, gravel and sand pushed by icy snow creates moraines of massive dimensions. Nature at work.

A nice stop at the beautiful and well-known restaurant Chez Vrony.

Matterhorn Glacier Trail

Trockener Steg – Hirli – Schwarzsee
7km, not much up and down

This trail is a fantastic walk so very close to the towering peak of Matterhorn. The weather was changing rapidly from grey to shiny blue and then foggy. That change made this magnificent mountain change its face as well.

First, at Trockener Steg, the trailhead, we visited the exhibition about the new Kleine Matterhorn gondola station project. It is an engineering wonder built between 3000m and almost 4000m of altitude where even spaghetti take 45 minutes to be cooked. There was a little demo gondola cord to hang on and pretend. My (Yasuko’s) trial was so miserable, that I prefer to keep its photo to myself : ) But it made us laugh for a long while…

When we started walking, the sky was grey – Zermatt covered by a layer of fog. Pretty to look at it if you stand above the fog…

The atmosphere was winter-like with a calming stillness.

We could clearly see the Hörnlihütte and the path leading to it. Weather permitting, the hike to the Hörnlihütte is going to be my birthday hike.

 

Tomasee / Lake Toma

Oberalpsee (2046m) <-> Tomasee (2343m),
8km – 468m ascent &descent

A hike with Rieko-san to the Lake Toma.

Lake Toma is the source of the river Rhine, Its water travels 1’320 km through the German Rhineland and the Netherlands into the North Sea. An amazing thing to imagine!

For the first time, I hiked in the Disentis-Andermatt area. There is still so much to discover in my homeland Switzerland 😃

Churfirsten

Walenstadtberg Höchenklinik (980m) -> Hochrugg (1320m) -> Paxmal (a peace memorial)-> Schrina Obersäss (1718m) -> Alp Tschingla (1528m) -> Walenstadtberg (805m)
11.2km, 765m ascent / 970m descent, 4h45min

Our original idea was to go up to Chäserrugg, 2262m, from the Walensee side. Studying the map carefully,  we figured, it meant “climbing” 1’300m of altitude on some very steep mountain path. Well, we changed plans…

Instead, we opted for a round trip hike over Alp Tschingla with still 800m ascent : )

After one hour’s steady uphill from the bus stop (980m),  we reached Hochrugg, 1320m. Picnic lunch time with an awesome view of the Walensee and the Flumserberge on the other side of it.

Passing a couple of charming farmhouses,  an gigantic Parthenon-like monument, Paxmal (a peace monument) appeared out of nowhere, on the mountain flank of the Churfirsten!

Apparently, a Swiss stamp engraver and artist called Karl Bickel, built this peace monument between 1924 and 1949, high above the Walensee. The setting is awesome:  the backdrop of the soaring Churfirsten peaks.

Our path to Alp Tschingla was steep, but the majestic vertical rock walls of the Churfirsten mountains, paired with a view of the deep-blue Walensee 1,000 m below, was phenomenal.

Finally reaching Schrina Obersäss (1718m), the highest point of this hike, the path levelled out.  Relatively easily we arrived at Alp Tschingla and had a tasty home-made almond cake and a cold beer as a self-reward!

With a little more than one hour left to catch the bus at Walenstadtberg, we almost flew down 700 m of altitude and ended up with muscle ache the next day.

More details on today’s route :  Alp- und Kulturweg Schrina

More on Paxmal

Sankt Martin, a charming Walser settlement

This is our first visit to the Calfeisental (Calfeisen Valley), a very isolated, narrow yet beautiful valley behind Bad Ragaz, of which Philippe had never heard neither.

The drive to Sankt Martin is already kind of an adventure. The only road is so narrow that it can only be used one way at a time. The first 20 minutes of every hour upwards, 10 minutes of buffer time, then 20 minutes the other way.

We loved the charming hotel-restaurant Sankt Martin because we could feel that someone really cares about this place!  The soup and risotto we had were very tasty.

This place is another surprising discovery in a region so close to our home.

Sankt Martin:

Our hike today:
Sankt Martin (1340m)  -> Alp Sardona (1743m) -> Sankt Martin (1340m), 12km, 550m ascent / descent, 4 hours

More on Sankt Martin hotel-restaurant

WALSA-Weg: Oberterzen to Murg

Oberterzen – Murg, 5km

Philippe joined me for the last stretch of the WALSA-Weg today : )!

This stretch started with a gondola up to Obertersen and all the way we were rewarded with a great views of the deep-blue Walensee and ever color-changing Churfirsten.