Berner Oberland ("back o' beyond") Glacier Trek • July 13 - 20, 2014

After a great Haute Route Glacier Trek in 2013, Andy, John, and Laura vowed to do another trip together. After much discussion, we settled on this itinerary: a week in the Berner Oberland. Unfortunately, a health issue kept Laura from joining us on the glacier, but she did a lot of hiking on her own and met up with us whenever and wherever she could.

Other Trips with Andy, John and Laura

Alps - July, 2013

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Our first day was a tough one, and very wet indeed. Andy and Kathy headed up the Gasteretal from Kandersteg, and hiked a loooong way up to the Kanderfirn glacier, and ultimately the Mutthorn hut.


We did get rained on a bit as we approached the edge of the glacier. Looking at (what we can see of) the backside of the Blumlisalp ridge.


At last we reached the glacier and began the long wallow through deep and saturated snow! Fortunately a party had been up the previous day, and while their tracks did not hold our body weight, they did save us a good deal of time wandering in the fog.


Catching sight of the hut raised our spirits some, but oofff! It was still a great deal further off than it looked!

Sadly, I did not get any photos of the interior of the hut, nor the friendly and talented Brunner family who run it (though you can find photos on their website, here: Both building and family were charming! But I was too focussed on getting dry, getting fed, and getting some sleep, it would seem.


The next morning, the visibility began to clear by the time we were ready to head down. Our goal, to descend the Tschingelfirn glacier into the Lauterbrunnen valley, and to join up with Laura and John in Wengen. A hole in the clouds revealed part of the Jungfrau as we started out.


Once safely below the glacier, we entered a land of waterfalls.


We began to meet day hikers coming up from the valley.


And tarns....


And flowers (Big Masterwort)...


And more flowers (Pasqueflower past it's bloom) ...


And still more flowers! (Martagon Lily). There was no end. Hard to keep walking!


In Wengen, we met up with Laura and John. After a nice meal and night in town, we headed up to the Jungfraujoch via the famous railway tunnel. The weather was definitely improved! We check out the glacier from the Eismeer windows.


John, Andy and I headed down the Jungfraufirn glacier from the train station into what promised to be a very warm day.


The Konkordia Platz and Aletsch Glacier stretch away below us into what looks like infinity. We will turn right at the junction, and head west to the Lotschenlucke and the Hollandia hut.


The pass and the hut look impossibly far away. But step by step, they inexorably draw closer.


At last, we are almost there!


The cozy interior of the Hollandia hut.


The following morning, Andy and I got up early for a "quick" side-trip up the Mittaghorn. Another stellar day breaks.


Up on the ridge, some mixed climbing on rock steps and towers, with well frozen snow conditions.


A lovely summit ridge with fantastic views.


In the afternoon, we have a long downhill road toward the Konkordia hut. This view back up toward the Jungfraujoch (John White photo) shows the nature of the terrain on the Konkordiaplatz pretty well!


So close, and yet so far... the most formidable obstacle of our hut approach occurs when we are quite close to our goal. A rushing run-off stream which we must cross as best we can. Kathy belays Andy on the committing step across the deep and swift water (John White photo).


At last we reach the endless fire-escape steps leading to the Konkordia hut.


The panorama from the Konkordia hut is our reward (John White photo).


The next day we head up toward the Grünhornlücke en route to the Finsteraarhorn hut.


Our first glimpse of the dominating Finsteraarhorn as we reach the pass.


The hut, tucked up under the Finsteraarhorn, keeps getting further from the glacier as it recedes.


A steep path equipped with the occasional chain provides an unlikely-looking but quite do-able approach route to the hut.


Aaaaand ANOTHER sunny terrace with unbelievable views.


Andy having to leave us unexpectedly (don't worry, he's OK!), John and I continued to the Oberaarjoch hut on our own. A long trip down the Fiescher glacier, then back up the Galmi and Studer glaciers, we catch a glimpse of the distant Weisshorn and Matterhorn, across the Rhone valley. Beautiful clear weather for viewing.


The Fiescher glacier is an area where the Swiss military do a lot of shooting practice in the late Fall season. The ice is littered with these little hummers (about 7 and 1/2 inches long).


We at last arrive at the Oberaarjoch, and the ladders up to the hut.


Early the next morning, John and I teamed up with one of the hut keepers for an early morning ascent of the Oberaarhorn.


After a bit of delicate scrambling up often-loose rock and talus, the snow of the summit slope is still (just) firm enough to hold our body weight.


Go Cougars! John shows some solidarity for his Washington State University's team.


The views northward into the remote upper reaches of the Finsteraargletscher are intriguing.

Back to the hut, from there we descended the Oberaar glacier toward the Grimsel Pass.

The Oberaarsee (a dammed lake) is our road-end destination.

At our Grimsel Pass hotel, we are re-united with Laura, Andy, and some pretty terrific food.

The following morning our weather luck ran out in a dramatic way.

A final stroll around the lake in a gathering rain storm filled the time waiting for a bus taking us back to Interlaken.

Au Revoir, Bernese Oberland! Time to wend our way homeward. Thanks to Laura, John and Andy for another wonderful time in your company, and in the mountains.

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