Wednesday, 7 September 2011


Upper Lauterbrunnen Valley

Stechelberg to Oberhornsee

I have been to the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland several times but never beyond Trummelbach in the Lauterbrunnen Valley so I was interested in exploring further south in this apparently quieter part of the region. I therefore took the train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen then the Post Bus to the end of the public road at Stechelberg.
On alighting from the bus I passed the local hotel and followed the signposted route for Obersteinberg, which was my initial destination, although I was hoping to go further depending on time and terrain. The path ran along the west side of the river Weisse Lutschine until Sichellauenen where there was a bridge to cross to access the path on the other side. It was then a steady climb through trees, crossing a vehicle track a couple of times, before the gradient eased as I headed to and passed the small hotel at Trachsellauenen. Beyond, the path joined the vehicle track for a several metres as it ran close to the glacier river, Weisse Lutschine. Here a notice board gave details of old iron ore and lead mines and I later spotted the walls of one such mine.
A steep path climbed through the forest and I stopped at one of several bench seats positioned along the route for a coffee break, with views down the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Here a group of walkers appeared from the path that led to the Schmadri Falls and headed downhill. Afterwards I continued up the path to the small farm at Schirboden. Beyond was the steepest section of the walk as the path wound its way through the forest. At a small clearing I had views of the Schmadri Falls, Breithorn and Ellstabhorn.
Eventually the path cleared the forest and crossed open hillside as I headed towards the Obersteinberg Hotel, passing a couple of walkers on their descent. Just prior to reaching the hotel I came to a junction of paths which was signposted Oberhornsee. Having made reasonable progress I decided to head there as it was only around seventy minutes walk away. The path hugged the mountainside as it crossed the meadows with the noise of clattering cow bells above. There was also an abundance of butterflies. The path descended slightly to the bridge over the Tschingel Lutschine just before it plummeted down a gorge.
The path continued up the valley and became quite rough as it steepened before arriving at Oberhornsee, a small lake, there being no habitation in this area. The surrounding mountains and moraine were impressive and I climbed to a wee knoll overlooking the lake for lunch. A few other walkers arrived, wandered around, and disappeared back down the valley. The path continued to the Tschingelhorn Glacier and onto the Mutthorn Hut but I wasn’t equipped to go there. However I was happy with what I had achieved, although I did explore the nearby moraine before returning to the Obersteinberg Hotel.
Here I had the choice of descending by my upward route or following the path that clung to the mountainside. I went for the latter and after passing the hotel I reached a farm.  Here men were trying to split large sections of timber. Nearby was a horse, or possibly it was a mule, and a pig sty containing several pigs. Next was the Hotel Tschingelhorn where I had another route decision to make, descend to Trachsellauenen or continue along the high level path which so far had made for easy walking. Again I opted for the latter but the trail soon entered the forest and was fairly steep in sections with lots of tree roots to cope with. Steep gullies were protected by ropes. This made for a slow descent and eventually a zigzag path led down the south side of the river Sefinen Lutschine back to Stechelberg.
Unfortunately I had missed a bus back to Lauterbrunnen by ten minutes, and as it was early evening they were now running every hour, the same as the trains from Lauterbrunnen. Rather than hang around Stechleberg I walked down the road passed the Staubbach Falls and the Stechelberg Cable Car to Triummelbach where I had to wait around fifteen minutes for the bus to Lauterbrunnen. As is the case with the Swiss travel system I didn’t have to wait long for the train to depart for Interlaken and the end of my trip to the Swiss Alps.
Time taken – 8 hours.
Distance – 13.5 kilometres.
Ascent – 1155 metres.

Photos taken on walk.