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Traveller’s Tale: The Alpine Pass Route, Switzerland

Feedback from Traveller Eileen-walking in the Swiss Alps with Sherpa Expeditions

Eileen Allen (in the middle at the above picture) from the USA realised that she had a need to prove to herself that she could still handle a significant challenge during the year she turned 60. So after many years of hiking in the USA in places like California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Grand Canyon National Park, she embarked on a guided hiking trip in the legendary Swiss Alps

Why did you choose to walk where you did? 

“The Alpine Pass Route’s varied terrain, wonderful scenery, and welcome food for hikers, met all of my expectations, and then some more. I found the Swiss culture, including eating in cafes and huts, riding the various forms of public transportation, and routine activities such as shopping in the local grocery stores, very interesting as well."

How did you prepare?

“I like to hike on weekends in California’s Coast Range mountains and the Sierras. In 2014 I worked in Sacramento which is very flat and close to sea level elevation. I usually walked each weekday morning for about 1,5km from the Sacramento train station to my job near the State Capitol, and then retraced that walk in the afternoon. After I committed to the Alpine Pass Route trip, I added a lunch-time stair climbing routine on one or two days each week at a 16-storey building across the street from my job. The stairs were tedious, but listening to music helped, and the conditioning was invaluable in preparation for the elevation gain and loss in the Swiss Alps.” 

Which was your favourite destination?

“The Hohturli Pass. The views from the pass on a clear morning were absolutely extraordinary, with the green Kiental/Golderli region from which we ascended on one side, and the intensely blue, large Oeschinsee Lake far below us on the other side. The second half of the Hohturli ascent was quite steep and somewhat arduous, so a bench near the top of the pass provided a very welcome spot for a brief rest.” 






“The first surprise was that our hiking group consisted of seven strong, adventurous women from throughout the world. To my delight we had great camaraderie.”

What aspect of the trip did you find most challenging? 

“The Bernese Oberland has very changeable summer weather, so we put on and took off raingear and clothing layers frequently. This was a minor inconvenience, which was easily offset by the scenery.”


What was the biggest surprise?

“The first surprise was that our hiking group consisted of seven strong, adventurous women from throughout the world. Our guide, John Millen, handled this group very well! To my delight we had great camaraderie. It was also a pleasant surprise to have humorous encounters over several days with a group of Dutch hikers whom we first met at the Rostockhutte on the way to the Sefinenfurke Pass.” 





Best food and drink?

“My favourite meal was a lunch at the Bluemlis Alphutte just above the Hohturli Pass. I was somewhat depleted after the ascent to the pass, so the hut’s hot, tasty soup to which I added sausage slices, was wonderfully rejuvenating. I also loved the fruit kuchen, which we had during breaks from hiking at Rosenlaui and at the Rostockhutte. The restaurant at the Silberhorn Hotel in Lauterbrunnen stood out for great breakfast buffets, dinner salad bar, and delicious dinner specials. ”



Do you have any recommendations for other travellers considering this trip? 

“Our guide, John Millen, and the Sherpa office staff were excellent. For fitness preparation, lots of walking combined with frequent stair climbing will get you ready for the ups and downs of the Alpine passes even if you can’t hike in the mountains often. Bring good rain-gear and make sure to test that while carrying a daypack.”

More information
Find a detailed itinerary, departure dates and more information on the Alpine Pass Route walking holiday in Switzerland here. Also have a look at this full list of other Sherpa Expeditions walking tours in Switzerland.

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