Klettersteig Schweifinen + Mettelhorn

Published by Stijn , 10 July 2017, 22h40.

Region: World » Switzerland » Valais » Oberwallis
Date of the hike:24 June 2017
Hiking grading: T3+ - Difficult Mountain hike
Via ferrata grading: K4 (D)
Geo-Tags: CH-VS 
Time: 2 days
Height gain: 2200 m 7216 ft.
Height loss: 2200 m 7216 ft.

For more than four years living in Switzerland, I've managed to avoid visiting Zermatt. But of course this was never going to last forever...

Day 1
Zermatt - Klettersteig Schweifinen - Chüeberg - Berggasthaus Trift
1000m ascent, 300m descent, 5h, K4 and T3

The Schweifinen via ferrata in Zermatt has a complex layout, with three different interweaving routes. The only topo that represents the situation in a more-or-less understandable way is the one from the "Klettersteigführer Schweiz" (Alpinverlag). From Zermatt railway station, we walk past Hotel Alex to the hiking path that climbs in the direction of Berggasthaus Trift. At the hairpin with a stone bench at ca. 1750m, there's a vague path straight ahead, but this leads to the exit of route A. For the start of route A, follow the main path up to the large information panel. Route A is easy, more steep hiking than climbing. Only the final moves (on a corner of the mountain with great views across to the spectacularly located Hotel Edelweiss) are more interesting (K2). This brings us to the Bersina-Haus, which has a fascinating history. The cables that go directly up from the barn are coming down from the exit of route B. For the start of route B, we follow the cables that traverse downhill until we're almost back down at the bottom of the rock face. A briefly overhanging and somewhat shaky ladder (K4) is the crux of the route. After this steep climb, a spectacular traverse through a beautiful rock wall is the highlight of the whole via ferrata. We walk on wooden planks and rock ledges in an exposed position directly above Zermatt railway station. After the traverse, a short climb ends route B all too soon. We turn right onto the hiking path in the direction of route C. Route C is slightly easier (K3) than route B, but also much longer and climbing up more consistently (except for another long traversing path in the middle). The "water tap" has disappeared (there's a hole in the rock next to the "no drinking water" sign). Still around are the beautiful wooden Madonna statue and the route book (after a net and just before a final ladder).

We join the marked hiking path at ca. 2170m. Instead of hiking back down to Zermatt, we walk up in the other direction to P. 2503. The Matterhorn is partially obscured by clouds, so we are left to admire the fertile "snow fence plantation" of the Wisshorn instead. A nice path traverses towards the Berggasthaus Trift, our goal for today. We get a warm welcome from Hugo and Fabienne Biner, who have just started their 23rd (!) season running the hut. There are only seven guests in total and we have a whole dormitory for ourselves.

Day 2
Berggasthaus Trift - Mettelhorn - Platthorn - Berggasthaus Trift - Hotel Edelweiss - Zermatt
1200m ascent, 1900m descent, 7h30, T3+

Some rain overnight gives us a good excuse to sleep a little longer. Quickly improving weather was predicted for Sunday morning and for a little while this seems to be correct, but then the skies darken again and we have to endure rain, hail and snow, thankfully not very intensive. Below the Furggji saddle, an ice axe can be useful on the remaining patches of snow. On the other side of the Furggji, a short walk over a glacier leads to the Mettelhorn. Though the glacier is not completely free from small crevasses, it is usually still crossed without a rope. (Advice from the Gasthaus Trift: "just avoid any suspicious depressions in the snow".) Other people have already broken a good trail across the glacier and the snow is perfect to walk upon. We have taken our crampons for nothing, but it's always good to have them just in case, or at least first ask about the conditions at the Gasthaus Trift. The final ascent of the Mettelhorn is steep but unproblematic. Just as we get to the top, the weather finally improves for good, so we can really enjoy being on one of the highest "hiking summits" in Switzerland.

After walking back across the glacier to the Furggji, we also climb the neighbouring peak of the Platthorn. A steep path through scree and one or two easy scrambling moves take us to the weather station on the summit. The weather keeps improving and as we descend from the Platthorn, also the Matterhorn finally shakes off its veil of clouds. What a spectacle! The earlier bad weather has even given the Horn a beautiful dusting of fresh snow. Below the Furggji, we surf downhill in a direct line through screen and snow, rather than following the official path. Almost all the way down to Berggasthaus Trift we can constantly admire the Matterhorn directly ahead of us. Only some marmots are able to distract us for a while.

Back at the hut, we enjoy some beer and rösti, before continuing our way down to Zermatt. The path through the narrow Triftbach valley is comfortable and well-constructed, yet at the same time still spectacular and quite exposed in places. We pass the Hotel Edelweiss and the old huts of Bodmen before suddenly arriving in a completely different world: the madness of Zermatt Bahnhofplatz. This hike was a great Zermatt adventure away from the masses, but a little contact with mass tourism can never be completely avoided in Zermatt...

Hike partners: Stijn

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