Brienzergrat XL (Kaiserstuhl OW - Harder Kulm)

Publiziert von Stijn , 10. Juli 2016 um 16:45.

Region: Welt » Schweiz » Obwalden
Tour Datum: 9 Juli 2016
Wandern Schwierigkeit: T5- - anspruchsvolles Alpinwandern
Klettern Schwierigkeit: I (UIAA-Skala)
Geo-Tags: Brienzergrat   CH-OW   CH-BE   CH-LU   Hagleren und Giswilerstöcke 
Zeitbedarf: 16:45
Aufstieg: 3500 m
Abstieg: 2900 m

36km, 3500m ascent, 2900m descent, some 20 summits, 16h45, following the spine of the Brienzer Rothorn massif, including some of the best grass ridges in the Alps.

There's a fun exchange of comments in another Hikr report:
Übernachtet habe ich im Hotel Rothorn-Kulm, wie das wohl alle tun
Nicht ganz alle..siehe hier und da
Aber mit Übernachten gemütlicher :-)
Das ist wohl der Unterschied zwischen Spinner und Geniesser :-)

Nick Brückner has since changed his report so that it now reads "wie das wohl die meisten tun". Yesterday, I joined the select group of "nutters" who refuse follow common sense. The question "why" (besides showing off on Hikr) is a valid one, though, so let me split that up in two points.

Why such a monster-hike? 
Because you don't get so much satisfaction from a challenge that is too easy :). It's always good to push your limits every once in a while. It's a great confidence boost achieve something which common sense deems impossible. And it's good to know what your body is capable of when stretched to the extreme, because you never now when you might be forced to go to similar lengths in an emergency situation.

Why this route?
There's a indescribable satisfaction in traversing an entire massif in one go, especially when the entire route follows the spine of the mountain. The traverse of the entire Brienzer Rothorn massif is just about doable in one day. As a bonus, it includes the Brienzergrat, certainly one of the most stunning grass ridges of the Alps.

While not many variations are possible between Höch Gumme and Harder, there are several possibilities to the east of Höch Gumme. The main ridge splits into two: to the SE there's the Wilerhorn on the way to the Brünigpass, while to the NE there's a longer route over the Äschligrat towards Giswil. Since there is no nighttime public transport onto the Brünigpass, I have to go for the second option, with start in Kaiserstuhl at the Lungernsee. As such, my route is most similar to tricky's version.

Even though I don't make use of the accommodation on the Brienzer Rothorn, the facilities on the mountain are still a key part of my plan. Being able to get food and water at the Brienzer Rothorn allows me to travel relatively light. Breakfast is served for hotel guests from 7.30 to 8.30. Early hikers are welcome to join (12.50 CHF for a small breakfast, 25 CHF for the buffet). It is best to call in advance, because if there are no overnight guests, the restaurant might only open later.

01:15 - 07:45: Kaiserstuhl - Brienzer Rothorn (hotel)
T3, 2100m ascent, 500m descent, 6h30

The bus brings me to Kaiserstuhl at 1:15am (service on Friday and Saturday night only). I cross the dam of the Lungernsee towards Bürglen. The distinct line of white lanterns on the dam will serve as a point of reference for how high I've already climbed over the next couple of hours. Nighttime navigation gets a little challenging above Alp Emmetti (you should find a vague path through a long, narrow clearing at 1000-1020m) and in the meadows above P. 1109 (there's a white-red-white marked post around 1170m to aim for). The forest path to Gerischwendi is pretty, even in the dark. A little higher, I join the Äschligrat. From here on, I'll be going roughly along the ridge all the way to Harder.

From the summit cross of Männli (P. 2055), I take a look at the neighbouring crag Mändli (P. 2059). However, in the twilight, I can't see a safe way up. I continue to Höch Gumme. Several other Hikr reports have advised against following the Höch Gumme west ridge directly (steep and brittle), so I just follow the official hiking path. This soon joins the popular high route from Schönbüel to the Brienzer Rothorn. At 6am, I have all the views (sunrise on the Berner Oberland 4000m peaks!) without the crowds. On Arnihaaggen, I take a short diversion to the main summit (P. 2216).

Some clouds are shrouding the Brienzer Rothorn as I reach the summit. After 6h30, I reach the Berggasthaus, nicely in time to enjoy the rich breakfast buffet.

08:45 - 18:00: Brienzer Rothorn (hotel) - Harder Kulm (funicular)
T5-, 1400m ascent, 2400m descent, 9h15

After a one hour break, I set off for the Brienzergrat, a fantastic line of grass ridges and summits, which also boasts an incredible diversity of flowers at this time of year. First up is the Schongütsch, immediately above the rack railway station. There is a nice but very short scramble on the Schongütsch west ridge (T5-, I), after which easier terrain brings me back to the main hiking path below P. 2243. The famous concrete steps of the Lättgässli soon follow. At the Chruterepass, the official hiking path leaves the ridge. The ridge path itself gets wilder as it traverses the Briefenhorn on the way to the Wannenpass. The crux of the Brienzergrat then comes with the Tannhorn east ridge. This turns out to be easier than it looks. A wire shows the easiest way over the first rocky step, after which the narrow ridge is exposed but without technical challenges. It doesn't really deserve a T5 grade in my opinion, but I guess I should take into account that the conditions for me are certainly better (i.e. dryer) than usual, so let's call it T5-, I. The log book on the Tannhorn is sadly completely soaked.

On descent from the Tannhorn, I start encountering some hikers going the other way. Surprisingly, hardly anyone speaks Swiss German. Most others are French or English speaking tourists, some in doubtful footwear (trainers with laces that aren't even tied properly...) or with no idea of what they are doing ("someone told me that Augstmatthorn to Brienzer Rothorn takes like four hours"...). Seriously, people: the Brienzergrat is a serious undertaking that requires experience, suitable hiking boots and proper planning!

The Ällgäuhorn (after which the ridge crosses a marked hiking path at the Ällgäulicka), the Schnierenhireli and Gummhorn offer nice grass ridges (again and again bits of T4). The official hiking path joins the ridge again at Blasenhubel. The Augstmatthorn is the last major ascent on the route. For the first time along the route, I start feeling tired. There's still a long way to go to Harder Kulm, though. It's a pretty hiking path, but it descends only agonizingly slowly. It's a proper "Echternach procession": for every three steps down, the path takes two steps up again... I'm suffering, but it would not be a proper challenge hike without some suffering. I take final detour onto the Wannichnubel viewpoint (because it's there, and because a little more suffering doesn't make a difference any more now) before the path finally descends properly towards the tourist madhouse at Harder Kulm. I reach the Harderbahn after 16 hours and 45 minutes (including the one hour break at Brienzer Rothorn). The funicular runs until 21:40 during the high season, but I'm already there at 18:00, with plenty of buffer still available.

In spite of the suffering during the final three hours, I'm quite happy with how I coped with this challenge. Compared to similar endurance hikes that I've done in the past, I felt quite well at the end of this one. It shows that my fitness is at a pretty good level, but also that I'm getter better at selecting the right gear and at feeding my body correctly during the hike. Water was a bit of an issue, though. Three liters wasn't really enough for the Brienzer Rothorn - Harder Kulm section. If it hadn't been relatively cloudy, shielding me from the heat of the summer sun, this could have become a serious problem. Besides extra water capacity, the only thing that I really missed in my lightweight backpack was a pair of light gloves, to keep my hands warm in the cold early morning winds.

It's been about two years since I've first set my eyes on this challenge. This weekend, everything finally came together. The obvious question now is: "what's next"? Suggestions for next summer's big challenge are welcome ;).

Tourengänger: Stijn

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Kommentare (4)

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tricky Pro hat gesagt: great
Gesendet am 12. Juli 2016 um 08:37
Gratuliere zu dieser schönen Tour. Die ist auch in zwei Tage ein schönes Abenteuer.

Stijn hat gesagt: RE:great
Gesendet am 12. Juli 2016 um 20:03
Danke Niki. Dein Bericht war eine wichtige Inspiration für mich. Als Zweitagestour mache ich dann irgendwann mal die Variante über das Wilerhorn :).

lsbrave hat gesagt:
Gesendet am 22. August 2016 um 22:20
Hello! A quick question: I want to do this hike in two days stopping for the night around Brienz Rothorn. Do you think it is possible somewhere around there to pitch a tent for the night? Is it flat enough? I generally prefer tenting to staying in huts, especially ones that are so easily accessible (ie. general tourists, not just hikers).

Stijn hat gesagt: RE:
Gesendet am 23. August 2016 um 09:01
It should be possible to camp at several places on or nearby the ridge, maybe even on the Tannhorn summit. The main issue will be the lack of water sources.

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