Tuesday, 6 September 2011



Schynige Platte to First via Faulhorn.

The walk from Schynige Platte to First had been on my list of things to do before I even left home as it is one of the classic Alpine hikes. Prior to setting out for the Schynige Platte I ascertained that the ‘First Gondola’, which I would use on my descent, operated until 2000 hours during the months of July and August. This would allow me ample time to cover the route rather than rushing which would be the case at other times of the year, if the route was open. Otherwise it would add another two hours or more to the walking time for the descent into Grindelwald.
I caught the train from Interlaken to Wilderswil then the cogwheel train, which covered over seven kilometres and an ascent of 1420 metres in fifty minutes, to the Schynige Platte. The train and station were busy with walkers, tourists and those visiting the Alpine Gardens. Before setting off along the marked trail I walked to the nearby hotel to take a few photographs from its balcony on what was a pleasant sunny morning.
On returning to the station I crossed the railway line and followed the signposted route that ran below the platform and on towards the farm at Oberberg. However I soon came to a junction of paths where I took the higher and more scenic route. This path took me below the Tuba and Ober berghorn summits and along the ridge with awesome views of Lake Thunersee, Lake Brienzersee and Interlaken. Here I found a newly constructed bench seat and table, which had just been vacated, for a coffee break taking in this panorama.  After my break I continued along the path gaining a bit more height before descending a ladder and joining the route from the farm.
The path wound its way round then to the col below Loucherhorn and entered the amphitheatre and hidden valley of Saigistal where it climbed along the north slopes of the Indri Sagissa mountain and it’s amazing folds of rock.  After a couple of kilometres and with the end of the cliff face reached the path turned south over rocky ground as more height was gained to reach the col and the Berghaus Mandlenen refuge and restaurant. A number of folks were eating on the restaurant platform but I joined those sitting outside the perimeter fence partaking of their packed lunch. A chough hopped around hoping to be fed.
I could see the summit of the Faulhorn but it involved more climbing, initially on a zigzag path then over stones and rock to reach a narrower grassy ridge where cattle were feeding. This led to the foot of the Faulhorn and an alternative route avoiding the summit. However having come this far I had no intention of missing out on summiting this mountain.  At the start of the final climb lots of choughs were feeding amongst the vegetation. A stony zigzag path took me to the summit and its hotel, apparently the highest and oldest in the Alps at 2680 metres and having being in existence since 1830.
Once I had visited the points of interest around the summit, and spotted possibly one of the highest washing lines in the Alps, I descended the south face and followed the path below the north side of Simelihorn. Lower down the path had been upgraded and I passed a few mountain huts before reaching Lake Bachsee where it was fairly busy with walkers and tourists who had come up via the First gondola. This was my means of descent but firstly I had to reach the top station, over three kilometres away. It was a pleasant, easy walk with views down into Grindelwald and across the valley to Wetterhorn and Schreckhorn.
The long descent in the gondola gave me plenty of time to reflect on a superb walk amongst awesome scenery in a wonderful part of Switzerland.
Time taken – 7.25 hours.
Distance – 15.5 kilometres.
Ascent – 730 metres.

Photos taken on walk.