Switzerland Help

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Aug 9th, 2007, 02:30 PM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2003
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Switzerland Help

Family group of 8 adults looking to plan a hiking trip in late May in Switzerland. Realize the limitations caused by snow and mud, but time period not flexible.

I've read postings...bought Kev Reynolds' book. Still don't have a clear picture. Know that some posters get edgy about this.(read the postings and get back with specific questions!etc.) But..
Has anyone done a week of hiking..place to place or several hikes from one location..
that would fit our goals: we are "fit'; do not want ropes,ladders, or "technical" climbing...Meadows, paths, scenery,villages, as much altitude as season allows.

If you've done this and will share, it would be appreciated.

BillyWayne

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Aug 9th, 2007, 05:55 PM
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Our absolute favorite hike in Switzerland began in the Lauterbrunnen Valley near Interlaken. We took the cog train to Wengen, then tram up to Mannlicken, walked across to Klein Scheidegg, then down to Wengen. It was a picture perfect day and we dream that we may do this again one day! We found the panoramas stunning throughout this area. Many people like to take the train up to see the Jungfrau as well.

It's been 19 years since my husband and I discovered this spectacular valley and we are considering taking our teenagers next summer.

Good luck! Karen
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Aug 9th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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I think you will do ok in the Interlaken area. May is problematical because of snow. This summer in particular has been a wet one with many feet of new snow being deposited on the peaks all summer long.

The Männlichen (note the correct spelling) is a high glacial ridge that towers over the Lauterbrunnen Valley to the east, but slopes gently downard on the other side to Grindelwald.

The walk down to Kleine Scheidegg (small pass) is relatively short, perhaps 2 hours at the most for an average walker.
It does, however, face the Eiger's north face the whole way down.

There are several other low altitude hikes in the area that hopefully will be snow free by late May.

If the Eiger North Face trail is free enough of snow to hike, I recommend it as well. It starts as Alpiglen on the rail line from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg and ends at a rail station known as Eigergletscher which is on the Kleine Scheidegg Jungfraujoch line.

I suggest hiking it upwards because some of the trail is gritty and can be unstable underfoot. More danger of slipping when going downhill, which is why I suggest expending the energy to go up.

From Gimmelwald, a dot on the map, but reached by Luftseilbahn from Stechelberg at the end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, there is a fairly level walk to a glacial cirque called the Kilchbalm. It is a dead end, but spectacular as it can be with towering walls, ice and snow.

In late May hopefully the trail from the gondola station named First (= ridge) to the Bachwsee will be open. It is an undulating trail that leads to a pleasant alpine pond below the top of the Faulhorn.

That trail has a southern exposure, so hopefully you can at least go part of the way up toward the top of the Faulhorn. The view from there is awesome.

Another hike, if the trail is clear, that I dearly love is the one that orginates at a small gondola station reached by going downhill from the church in Grindelwald. Take the cable car up to the station known as Pfingstegg and turn west through a farmyard to Stieregg. At this location you can see into the heart of the glacial valleys above Grindelwald.

The trail crosses a gully cut in the laseral moraine and continues on to the Cliffs of the Rots Gufer, which Kev Reynolds describes in his book. You can cut this hike off at just about any point and retrace your steps.

I hope this one is clear by late May, but may not be because it shaded by the peaks.

There are some shorter ones in the area as well, which I think you can enjoy.

You might look at the trails that Reynolds describes around Meiringen because they are somewhat lower in elevation and hopefully will be clearer of snow that the ones at the upper elevations.

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Aug 9th, 2007, 06:23 PM
  #4
 
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You might consider having a tour organized for you or joining a tour. There is a very good group that some of my friends and colleague have used called Alpine Hikers, go to http://www.alpinehikers.com; I see from their website that they donít have any organized walks for May (too early, this will give you an idea of conditions you might expect) but they can custom design something for you.

A good book is the Lonely Planet book book "Walking in Switzerland". This rates walks by fitness level, even walks for kids. It also gives directions for using public transport. I find it accurate and very helpful.

There are two main Swiss walking clubs which also offer guided walks, you might try their websites (may be only in German, Italian or French, but you could tray babbelfish translations):

Swiss Hiking Federation at http://www.swisshiking.ch/
Swiss Alpine Club at http://www.alpen-journal.de/links.html

In late May, you might want to go to the Lake Geneva area and base yourself in one of the villages along the lake and do day trips for hikes up in the vineyards and then in places like Guryere and also into the Jura and also into higher elevations like in the Châteaux D'ouex. The lower elevations of the Jura should be realy pretty good in late May. IMO staying in the lower elevations will allow you to do a lot of good walking/hiking that is not technically difficult and can be done in all weather and if you are lucky and get a stretch of good dry weather then take trips up to higher elevations and walk there. Late May will really be a crap shoot, it wil have depenedined on how much snow there was, how fast it has menlted etc. Generally there would still be a good bit of snow in higher elevatins, and I donít know if this is what you want. Mud of course too. The Lake Genevea region is very beautiful and might offer the best in terms of being able to get in a lot of walks at a time of year when the weather can be still unsettled. I would

The BO, mentioned above, is a great area and has some lovely walks, the walk I believe they are referring to is the quite famous Mannchilen walk above Wengen. This can be done in a few hours and is not technically difficult. There are other easy walks in this region. I think in late May you will find a lot of snow and then mud in those higher elevations, however. Also fog and rain. Mid June is generally better, alntough you could certainly luck out in late May. A very useful book for that area is Swiss Bernense Oberland by Philip and Louise Alspach. This gives an overview of the BO and gives details on several walks.

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