Saturday, June 02, 2012

On the Beatenberg

This one required a bit of extra planning: Andrea was just recovering from a bad head cold and wasn't 100% fit, but Greg was looking forward to doing some height. After some thought, Andrea came up with a couple hikes where she could take a gondola for part of the climb while Greg walks it. This the one we settled on.

From Beatenbucht Andrea takes the Standseilbahn and gondola up to Vorsass. Greg starts the Andrea Special (can we call it this if she's not there?) and sets off on foot on the path up through the woods. It's a nice, easy going path where the biggest challenge is to not run up the mountain -- the combination of being alone, wanting to push some, and not wanting A to have to wait up top too long definitely leads to a  tendency to go too fast. After an hour of steady climbing Greg is in Beatenberg (should take 1:50 according to the signs); a quick drink break and some "wow" at the Alp panorama that's opening up and then it's up, up, up. The next stretch is mostly in the open, no more shade, which is great for enjoying the views but it's also good for the sweating. 45 minutes later (1:30 according to the signs), we meet at the restaurant in Vorsass where Andrea has been reading, taking pictures, and drinking in the views. A refreshment break (there are times when no-alcohol beer is a really good thing) with the amazing views (the panorama of the Berner Alpen is really something and the weather is quite good) and then off we go.

There are some people on the trails after Vorsass, a combination of folks walking down from the Niederhorn and a smaller number walking up. Rather than head directly to the Niederhorn and then walk the ridge, we choose to do it "backwards" and take the path that more or less follows the contour around to Oberburgfeld. Here we find a nice bench and have a short lunch break, still soaking up the views (lots of para-gliders out today!). After lunch we continue, on a path that's now less of a sidewalk and more of a mountain path, sometimes crossing snow fields, mostly following the contour until we take a sharp left and head up to the ridge.

Once up top we opt out of the last bit to the Gemmenalphorn (there are a lot of people up here) and turn left towards the Niederhorn. Somewhere around the Burgfeldstand we do a drink break and then follow the ridge the rest of the way back to the Niederhorn. A refreshment break with mountain identification at the restaurant, a quick trip to the panorama map up top, and then we grab the gondola down.

This was a good solution to the challenge of our different fitness levels. Though I'm sure it's unbelievably full in the summer time, the Niederhorn and the ridge up top would be a good place to send visitors.

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