Travels Abroad, 1962-3, Chapter 2 – The Bernese Oberland


The Alps! What a fantastic collection of mountains, and climbing there is made more convenient (than in the US) by the presence of cable cars, chairlifts, mountain railways and huts. Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the wilderness that surrounds most American mountain ranges. But, simply stated, the ambitious climber gets more bang for the buck in the Alps.

I left Germany for Switzerland in mid-June, which is still early in the Alps, with lots of snow remaining in the mountains. Since I was traveling by myself at this point, I chose a relatively easy area for my first climbs, in the western end of the Bernese Oberland. I took a train to Kandersteg, which is located in a gorgeous valley right at the foot of the mountains. Not far from the center of town, at the very upper end of that valley, the train tracks enter a long tunnel which comes out at the other side of the range, at Leukerbad.  Not far from the tunnel entrance is the base station of a 40 passenger cable car, which soars immediately and steeply upward past cliffs and forested ledges and arrives at Sunnbüel, near the Gemmi Pass. This was my first alpine cable car ride and I found it awe-inspiring. From the top station I walked to a nearby mountain hut for the evening, and early in the morning left to climb the Rinderhorn by the north face, an easy snow climb. (The following photos, and the ones seen in the prior chapter, were taken with a “subminiature” Minox camera, that produced 8X11 mm negatives.)

Rinderhorn, elevation: 11328 ft / 3453 m. June 26, 1962

Rinderhorn, elevation: 11328 ft / 3453 m. June 26, 1962

Rinderhorn, summit ridge in early light

Rinderhorn, summit ridge in early light

Rinderhorn, view from the summit to the east, of the Aletschhorn and the bigger mountains of the Bernese Overland

Rinderhorn, view from the summit to the east, of the Aletschhorn.

Rinderhorn, view from the summit to the south, of Monte Rosa (second highest peak in Europe) in the Pennine Alps

Rinderhorn, view from the summit to the south, of Monte Rosa (second highest peak in Europe) in the Pennine Alps

Rinderhorn, view from the summit to the southwest, of Mt. Blanc, the highest peak in Europe

Rinderhorn, view from the summit to the southwest, of Mt. Blanc, the highest peak in Europe

Rinderhorn, view from the summit to the west, of the Wildstrubel

Rinderhorn, view from the summit to the west, of the Wildstrubel

After this climb, I walked south past the Daubensee, a high lake that sits astride the range (see postcard below), to another mountain hut, the Lammerenhutte, and from there climbed the Daubenhorn (elevation: 2942 m / 9652 ft), on June 27. From the summit of the Daubenhorn one looks directly down onto Leukerbad.

Daubenhorn

Daubenhorn

On June 28, I climbed the Steghorn (elev. 3146m) by its east ridge. and then descended to Leukerbad.

Steghorn, E.Ridge

Steghorn, E.Ridge

Steghorn, E.Ridge

Steghorn, E.Ridge

Steghorn, summit view to Rinderhorn (in center)

Steghorn, summit view east to Balmhorn (elev. 3698m) on the left, Rinderhorn in the center and the Aletschhorn in the distance

Steghorn, summit view to WildstrubelViewToWest#4

Steghorn, summit view west  to Wildstrubel

Meltwater pond

Meltwater pond

Daubensee, and the peaks of the Pennine Alps to the south (postcard)

Daubensee, and the peaks of the Pennine Alps to the south (postcard). The Daubenhorn is seen on the far right.

PostcardLeukerbad

Leukerbad, with a view to the Daubenhorn, in the center, and Rinderhorn, on the right (postcard)

From Leukerbad, I continued downhill into the Rhone Valley, turned west and crossed over into France.  I must have passed through Chamonix, but apparently didn’t stop there,  (or stop there for long), because my next climbs took place in the Dauphiné, a good-sized range southeast of Grenoble. These climbs will be seen in the following chapter.

https://believesteve.org/2015/08/09/travels-abroad-1962-3-chapter-3-the-dauphine/

 

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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One Response to Travels Abroad, 1962-3, Chapter 2 – The Bernese Oberland

  1. Ethan Miller says:

    Good times! Thanks, pops!

    Like

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