Easter Ski Tour – Bernese Oberland

I’m back in the office after a great 8-day tour in the Bernese Oberland. I made the trip down to Switzerland with 7 others, driving down overnight and camping in Mörel before heading up and over to the Aletsch glacier the next morning. The plan for the first day was to rise early, catch the first cable car up and have an easy skin up to the first hut. However, getting up late, losing keys, mechanical problems and under-estimating the difficult terrain on the glacier all resulted in a 10pm finish at the Mittelaletschbivak hut. It was a tough first day but we managed to prepare some hot meals and drinks before grabbing some much needed rest.

Mittelaletschbivak Hut at midnight.

The following morning we skinned up to the Aletschjoch, to take a look at the Aletschhorn. Unfortunately conditions on the summit looked desperate but we were rewarded with a great view of the Konkordiaplatz and its surrounding peaks from the col. We enjoyed a good ski back down to the hut before descending to the glacier and turning north, heading for the Konkordia hut. The climb up to our second hut was long, flat and gruelling. The final sting in the tail was the 120m of steps up to the hut which were taken at a very steady pace. We were hut bound for the next day due to snowfall and high winds. Most of the day was spent refuelling, reading and playing puzzles.

Aletschjoch - ready to drop in.

Our objective for the next day was the Kranzberg. From the hut it looked like a great day-tour, with a straight-forward ascent followed by a long descent in fresh snow. We made it to within 50m of the summit but the avalanche risk on the steep final slopes made us turn back. After a great ski back down we re-traced our track across the Konkordiaplatz to spend a third night in the hut.

Nearing the summit of the Kranzberg

The Finsteraarhorn hut was our next port of call via an attempt on the Wysnollen. Again, snow conditions thwarted us and we turned back pretty early on the climb. After a night in the excellent Finsteraarhorn hut, the next morning we made the most of good conditions and climbed to the summit of the Gross Wannenhorn. The ski down was one of the best with 1000m of fresh snow to go at. Before returning to the hut we had another go at the Wysnollen, this time getting 2 thirds of the way up before bad weather forced us back again. My legs didn’t have much climbing left in them by this point anyway so I was glad to ski back down.

View from the Finsteraarhorn hut.
Climbing the Gross Wannenhorn, Italy in the background.

Unfortunately, the bad weather returned again for the next couple of days and after a night in the Oberaarjoch hut, hosted by the amazing Kurt and Albert, we descended back to the valley and the cars. The route was quite interesting with knee deep powder on the first section, an abseil onto a dam and skiing in a terrible white-out taking GPS-fixes and compass bearings every 100m. After a 7 hour day we reached the train station in Oberwald and caught the train back to Mörel.

Approaching the dam

On the whole, the weather and visiblity weren’t great but we still had a great trip, covering plenty of distance and fitting in as much as we could when conditions permitted.

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