Galenstock SE ridge

Published by Stijn , 9 July 2017, 15h36.

Region: World » Switzerland » Uri
Date of the hike: 7 July 2017
Mountaineering grading: AD
Climbing grading: 5a (French Grading System)
Via ferrata grading: AD-
Geo-Tags: CH-UR   CH-VS 
Time: 2 days
Height gain: 1450 m 4756 ft.
Height loss: 1450 m 4756 ft.

With the weather forecast predicting good weather on Saturday, but thunderstorms all day on Sunday, we went looking for a hut that could be reached within a couple of hours from Zürich already on Friday afternoon. Our choice fell on the Sidelenhütte. My idea for Saturday would have been the Galenstock SE spur, but my rope partner Oliver suggested a more challenging option: the SE ridge.

Day 1
Parkplatz Sidelenbach - Sidelenhütte
T2, 400m ascent, 45 min

The small Sidelenhütte is fully booked, yet there is a pleasant atmosphere among the international (Swiss, German, Belgian, Dutch) guests. Unknown to us, there is also another Hikr among the guests: beppu. The next day, he would take a spectacular photo of us on the ridge. The hut is well-managed and the food is excellent.

Day 2
Sidelenhütte - Klettersteig Obere Bielenlücke - Galenstock SE-Grat - Galenstock - Abseilpiste - Sidelenhütte - Parkplatz Sidelenbach
AD and 5a, 1050m ascent, 1450m descent, 9h

Breakfast is at 4:30. Shortly after 5am, we start from the hut in the direction of the Obere Bielenlücke. Several other roped parties are already ahead of us on the Sidelengletscher, yet they all have different goals (Galenstock SE spur, Gross Bielenhorn). Reaching the first big couloir in the Bielenhorn-Galenstock ridge, we look in vain for the start of the via ferrata, until realising that this is not actually the couloir to the Obere Bielenlücke yet. The correct couloir is a little hidden away, slightly higher up along the glacier. The entry of the via ferrata is then easily spotted and reached by climbing a steep snow slope along the edge of the glacier.

The via ferrata provides an easy connection between the Sidelengletscher and the Obere Bielenlücke. As a via ferrata, the grade is around K2-K3. The route is steep and sometimes exposed, but there are no real technical difficulties, as ladders of iron rungs lead up the steeper parts. Experienced climbers aiming to do the Galenstock SE ridge will probably not bother taking a proper via ferrata set, instead settling for more improvised methods of protection. With the Obere Bielenlücke via ferrata, I am able to tick off one of the hardest-to-reach (because glacier equipment and experience is required) routes from the "Klettersteige der Schweiz" guidebook almost by coincidence, since the main objective of our tour still lies ahead of us.

From the top of the via ferrata, a brief glacier walk takes us around the Obere Bielenlücke to the start of the Galenstock SE ridge. The whole ridge has enough bolts, so there is no need to bring nuts or friends. We climb simultaneously on the first part of the route, which is mostly around grade II-III. The granite rock is perfect and extremely enjoyable (maybe with the exception one slightly awkward down-climbing move). The 5a-crux then significantly raises the bar. Oliver groans and puffs as he lead-climbs in mountain boots. I take the hint and change into my climbing shoes, which I've thankfully taken along. The climbing shoes clearly help on the steep plates, which bring me to a slightly-overhanging 2m-wall. The quality of your climbing technique (or, as in my case, the lack thereof) will immediately become evident by the way you move up this step. Immediately after the following belay stand, another small wall devoid of easy holds is the final big challenge. Thankfully my tall body gives me a big advantage here. The climbing gets clearly easier afterwards. After some diversions into the north face, the perfect-quality climbing comes to an end. The final part of the SE ridge involves scrambling over loose blocks until the Galenstock south ridge (Galengrat) is reached.

We deposit our climbing gear here, before hiking over soft snow (avoiding the cornices) to the Galenstock summit. We reach the summit about 5h30 after starting from the Sidelenhütte. A chilly breeze is blowing some light clouds past the Galenstock. The visibility is somewhat limited (the 4000ers of Wallis and Berner Oberland are mostly obscured by clouds, with only the Finsteraarhorn appearing for a few moments) but the views are still spectacular.

We descend to pick up our gear and walk further down along the Galengrat to the abseiling piste at P. 3252 (cairn). There are some slight delays here due to the large number of roped parties descending here. We team up with a nice couple from Luzern; connecting our ropes we can abseil in 50m distances (3-4x) instead of in 25m abseils (6-7x). Sliding down on the soft snow of the western Sidelengletcher (great views of the Hanibal tower), we end up too far down and have to re-ascend 50m to the Sidelenhütte. After some food and drinks, we walk back to the Furkapass road, with a brief thunderstorm surprising us before we reach the car.


Though it was a long tour, the time went by quickly, thanks to the diversity of the route (glacier, via ferrata, climbing, abseiling...). The Galenstock SE ridge was my biggest and most difficult alpine climbing route to date. Many thanks to Oliver for taking me along.

Hike partners: sudorock, Stijn

Click to draw, click on the last point to end drawing


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Galenstock 3586m · Robertb

Comments (8)

Post a comment

Zoraya says: Congrats
Sent 9 July 2017, 15h54
Hey Stijn
Super, gratuliere dir/euch. Der SE-Grat ist noch ein Zacken anspruchsvoller als der Sporn. Da brauche ich noch etwas Training. Tolle Bilder & Bericht. Der Galenstock ist einfach eine Klasse für sich.

Lg Sarina

Stijn says: RE:Congrats
Sent 9 July 2017, 17h55
Vielen Dank Sarina.
Auch für mich war es eine von meinen anspruchsvollsten Touren. Immer super wenn man erfahrene Begleitung hat und sich so an seine Grenzen herantasten kann. :)

bamauroch says: Abseilpartner aus Luzern
Sent 9 July 2017, 18h43
Schöne Bilder. Habt ihr die Steinböcke beim Abstieg in der Nähe der Siedelenhütte noch gesehen? Wir konnten uns bis auf ca. 5-10 Meter nähern.
Lg Mauro

Stijn says: RE:Abseilpartner aus Luzern
Sent 9 July 2017, 18h57
Hoi Mauro,
Nein, haben wir leider nicht. Sonst hätte ich schon Bilder gemacht ;).
LG, Stijn

beppu says:
Sent 9 July 2017, 22h03
Gratuliere zum SE Grat. Super Bilder, ich hab noch eins bekommen wo einer von Euch drauf ist. Stark vergrössert erkennst du es vielleicht.
LG beppu

Stijn says: RE:
Sent 9 July 2017, 22h14
Super, vielen Dank. Das bin wohl ich an der Stelle die in meinem Bericht beschrieben ist als "one slightly awkward down-climbing move". :)

EsNZ says: Gratuliere!
Sent 16 July 2017, 08h44
Hoi Stijn,
Mal wieder ein von deinen Touren gelesen, dies ist ja der Hammer! Gratuliere!!
LG Esther

Stijn says: RE:Gratuliere!
Sent 17 July 2017, 13h25
Vielen Dank, Esther!

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