This circular route around the Wildstrubel uses trails that have served since Roman times to link the German-speaking Bernese Oberland and the partly French-speaking Valais. Before the rail tunnels were bored through the mountainsides and threaded through the adjacent valleys; these mountains formed a natural barrier, and Kandersteg was a hamlet literally at the end of the road. Surprisingly a lot of the trade over the high passes before rail, was done in winter with heavy oxen-pulled sledges. There wasn't much work to be done on the land at that time of year and the sledges could move quite rapidly. On the other hand it was a very risky business and many were caught out on high passes in blizzards. Most notoriously there is The Gemmi Pass, which has been a principal route through the Alps for centuries. We will also cross the Rawyl, Lotschen and Hahnenmoos passes to link the attractive villages of Leukerbad, Crans, Lenk and Adelboden before completing the circuit in Kandersteg. Our final pass, The Bundeschrinde, due to its beauty and position is perhaps the highlight of the walk. The towering crags above the pass are a superb point for watching Chamoix – mountain antelope – prancing around upon the ledges. We have an extra day in Kandersteg in which we can do a circular walk up to the Oeschinensee: a fantastic post glacial lake. Throughout the tour the scenery is expansive, with views extending across the Oberland, to the 4000m peaks of the Valais, and down the Rhone valley. There are some long days but lifts and cable cars (own expense) can sometimes be used to shorten some of the walks.
Moderate to challenging with one challenging (day 6) day. For fit hikers who can walk 6 - 9 hours a day at a steady pace with more than 1000m ascent in a day. All the walks are on established waymarked trails which can be rocky or steep at times. Walkers should also have a reasonable head for heights as some trails are on cliffs sides.
Call your hotel with your arrival time into the train station and they will come and pick you up. This evening you will meet your guide for a trip briefing. Kandersteg is situated at the far end of the Kandertal Valley near the border with the French-speaking canton of the Valais. Until the early 20th century, the only way to cross between the Oberland and Valais was via the treacherous Gemmi Pass, however nowadays the two regions are conveniently linked by the 15 km Lotschberg railway tunnel. The upper Kandertal is surrounded by numerous hanging valleys and sheer faces, evidence of previous glacial activity. Towering above are beautiful snow-capped peaks and glaciers, with names like the Bluemlisalphorn, Frundenhorn, Doldenhorn, Balmhorn, Altels, Rinderhorn, Daubenhorn, Steghorn, and of course, Wildstrubel.
There are plenty of features of interest in the town, including a heated swimming pool, saunas in many of the hotels, fishing, a museum, or perhaps you could hire a boat on the Oeschinen lake. In addition, organ concerts, folklore evenings and slideshows/talks on Kandersteg are held regularly. The friendly and welcoming tourist office will provide you with a summer information booklet with further details.
Accommodation: Hotel Bernerhof - A 3-star hotel centrally located with convenient access to the hiking trails, cable cars and lifts, shops and the railway station (5 minutes on foot). All rooms have a balcony, bath/shower, WC, hair-dryer, cable TV, radio and direct-dial telephone.
The walk takes us steeply up to Gemmipass (2314m). We hike out over the alpine meadows of the Spittelmatte under and impressive peak called Altels, and then up the valley and around the ‘Daubensee’ post glacial lake and then up to its busy ‘lip’ - the Gemmipass! We are now passing from the Bernese Oberland into the Swiss Valais. We follow a steep well engineered path down from pass to the spa town of Leukerbad (1411m). Those who choose can avoid the descent by catching the cable car down meeting the group at the hotel.
Total Ascent: 1175m / Descent: 968m
Accommodation: Hotel Walliserhof - A simple 3 star chalet style hotel in this pleasant small spa town. TV in all rooms. Terrace restaurant.
A beautiful walk through alpine pastures and woodlands with fine views across the Rhone valley and the Valais Alps, including the Weisshorn and the Grand Combin arriving into Crans-Montana (1500m).
Total Ascent: 1091m / Descent: 962m
Accommodation: Hote du Lac - Our 3-star hotel is a centrally situated modern building in this purpose built mountain resort. It sits on the edge of Lac Grenon, with views across to the mountains on the other side of the Rhone Valley. The hotel serves an excellent set menu and has a microbrewery attached.
This is a long hard day, but in reasonable weather it is a beautiful walk. The first part of the walk there is the option to walk along the ‘Bisse du Rou’; a high level irrigation canal with a narrow walkway. The views are fantastic. The trail passes the Tzeusier Dam and climbs over the Rawyl Pass (2429m) under the Mittaghorn (2685m), which is the high point of the week’s trek. We make the long steep descent down to Iffigenalp and drop down through the idyllic Iffigen Valley to the small spa town of Lenk (1086m). The sulfurous waters here attract people from all over.
Total Ascent: 1225m / Descent: 1119m to Iffigenalp / 1700m to Lenk.
Accommodation: Hotel Krone - We stay in a 3-star hotel right in the town centre and many rooms have their own balcony. The hotel has a sun terrace with alpine views. There is a small pool and sauna open to guests. Dinner is a well prepared standard tavern type fayre. There is also a nearby sulphur spa and public swimming pool.
This is a nice walk up to the grassy Hahenmoospass, which has some amazing wild meadows. The pass is a popular place for flying model aircraft, perhaps due to the potentially soft landings offered by the surroundings! You will also be able to see the summit of the Wildstrubel today if it is clear. From the pass it is a casual descent down to Adelboden which is a smart Swiss town, which prides itself on its shops and its tennis competitions: there are also some of the best overall views of the Wildstrubel from the restaurant.
Total Ascent: 948m / Descent: 651 m
Accommodation: Adler Sporthotel - A friendly welcome awaits you at this chalet style 3 star ‘Sports hotel’. A superb dinner is served in the panoramic restaurant – often up to 5 courses! The sauna, Turkish steam room and open-air pool can be used by the guests.
A long ascent, with beautiful views, to the Bundeschrinde pass (2380m). This is perhaps the most dramatic of the passes that you go over on this route. This is followed by a steep descent to Kandersteg with fine views of the Blumlisalp Massif and the Oeschinensee Lake. This is a particularly fine pass - a breach through rocky strata – a bit like a mini Breche de Roland (in the Pyrenees) but there is nothing mini about the views: it is a spectacular location and if you are quiet you might see Chamoix or even Ibex on the crags along here!
Total Ascent: 1132 m / Descent: 1303 m
Today could be used as a complete rest day, but there are some great ‘there and back’ walks we can do including up and around the Oeschinensee Lake. This is a fantastic egg shaped post glacial lake with a blocked exit under the Blumisalp and the Doldenhorn group of mountains. There are lower and upper trails around parts of the lakes, offering varied panoramas. On the other hand, you could take a paddleboat out onto the water, ice cream in hand!
Make your way to the station for your onward journey.
Per Person, Twin Share