Friday, 10 September 2010

Weekend hike: Zwischbergen Pass above Saas Almagell

A wonderful hike for the weekend. One starts up from the last village in the Saas valley, tiny Saas Almagell, who's most famous son is Pirmin Zurbriggen, multiple ski world champion. So in a country where skiing is almost a religion Pirmin is a demi-god!

The route starts from the big central space in front of the Tourist office heading east. It begins to head up almost straight away zig-zagging upwards through a pine forest. Various paths lead off in different directions, but signage is clear. After about one hour the trail levels out - you are at the mouth of the Almagellertal, after crossing the bridge you walk along a broad path to Almagelleralp. This mountain hotel celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

The hotel is run by the friendly Anthamatten family with help of a number of equally friendly young ladies. It's a good place to stop for refreshments and take in the wonderful vista that is spread before you.

After the appropriate refreshments and joined by friends we wandered up the valley towards the Almageller Hut. The views of the Dri Horlini face in the afternoon light was indeed a sight to behold.

We spent the night at the Hut - the food was the usual Swiss Alpine Club fare - salad, pasta and for vegetarian tomato sauce with a hunk of cheese on the side, followed by mixed fruits from a tin - filling but not very appetising! All beds are in dormitories and cost CHF 39 per person, supper is CHF 25 and breakfast CHF 13.

Most people who stay at the hut are climbers fixated on conquering the Weissmes (4,017 m) or Portjengrat (3,653 m) and so set off before the crack of dawn. As we were only going one hour further up to the Zwischbergen pass (3,268 m) we set off at the leisurely time of 8 am. Just above the pass there are wonderful scrambling on the ridge leading to Weissmies.

View Saas Almagell - Almageller Hut in a larger map

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