Category Archives: Switzerland

Autumn hike in Prättigau: Bergstation Fanas to Schuders

A forlorn yet fantastic 6-hour trail from the foot of Sassauna to Fadurer Fürggli to Schuders.  In mid-November we enjoyed the unusual sunny weather, witnessing the dramatic fog streaming into the Prättigau Valley like a waterfall.  Amazing natural phenomenon!

Eggli Bergstation 1700m – Stelli 1978m – Fadurer Mittelsäss 1839m  – Fadur Obersäss 2020m – Fadurer Fürggli 2188m – Maiensäss – Schuders1272m

Distance: 17.2km // Ascent: 820m, Descent: 1270m // 6 hrs walking; 7hrs on the trail

The 8:30 am bus from Schiers and then a small mountain cablecar from Fanas (only two of us were in it) takes us to Eggli at 1700m, today’s trail head.  The air is crisp at 9 am, but the sun is out and heating.  A cute mountain hut which is usually a popular hangout place for paragliders was unfortunately closed due to the autumn break – no coffee for Philippe :- (

 

We start hiking up towards Sassauna, which we are rather familiar with. Skirting around the steep mountain flank of Sassauna for an hour, we arrive at Stelli (1978m),  the mountain ridge with a fantastic view of our house mountain Chrüz, the soaring Rätikon mountain range and today’s entire trail to Schuders Maiensäss.  We sit on the bench and admire a sweeping view during a short snack break.  It is Philippe’s first time to be here (the second time for me) and he loves the new perspective of the Chrüz and his favorite model airplane flying spot Gafäll.  The mountain slopes are brown and look deserted yet, a different beauty.

 

From here we start the half circle around the steep valley.  On the way we see three chamois, so jumpy that at the sight of us they dash down the slope towards the relative safety of the forest (it’s hunting season).

 

We make a wrong turn and walk uphill, mistaking a cow path for our trail, then after coming down to the correct path, continue to a rather large farmhouse at Fadurer Mittelsäss (1839m) which is closed for the season.  We wonder how a farmers get here, there seems to be no road and the place is roughly 2 to 3 hours away on foot from any side….

Tasty sandwiches in front of this farmhouse, the sun and the view refill our batteries.

 

Behind this farmhouse the path goes up steeply in the direction of Fadurer Fürggli.  200m higher up there is another small and cute farmhouse at Obersäss and we have another short break on the bench in the sun. We like breaks : )

Now, in mid November the sun on this south-oriented slope keeps us warm – even at around 2000m. At this time there may have been tons of snow by now.

Finally we reach today’s highest point, the Fadurer Fürggli pass (2188m). The north side of the pass is covered with snow and a very cold wind is blowing!  So cold that we only have a quick glimpse of the Schasaplana peak, the Schweizer Tor and the Carschina hut, before happily returning on the sunny south side of the pass for our second sandwich and miso soup.

 

Around this pass there are several gates of Swiss army border defense shelter from the Second World War. This might be due to the Austrian border close by …

From there it is a 1000m-altitude downhill to Schuders…

 

On the way down we see thick fog streaming from the Rhein Valley over the mountains into the Prätigau Valley. It looks like big fog wave overflowing and pouring to our side. It’s a dramatic nature spectacle! We can’t keep our eyes from it and stop many times to take photos.

 

After a long hilly downhill stretch we arrive at the quaint  hemlet of Maiensäss. It is lined with a row of old charming farmhouses, most of which are closed and awaiting winter.

 

At the end of the hike, the fog moves up higher and higher to reach the level of Schuders village (1272m) and soon we are in the cold fog! The white sun looks mystical in the thick fog. Our body is getting cold fast while waiting for the 4:30pm bus, but we can’t complain after 7 hours of sun!

 

Click here for the tour details 

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 slow…

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