Ochsehorn, Simelihorn, Mattwaldhorn (with Perseids-watching bivouac)

Published by Stijn , 15 August 2017, 21h13.

Region: World » Switzerland » Valais » Oberwallis
Date of the hike:12 August 2017
Hiking grading: T4 - High-level Alpine hike
Geo-Tags: CH-VS 
Time: 2 days
Height gain: 1800 m 5904 ft.
Height loss: 1800 m 5904 ft.

It's starting to become a tradition of mine to do a bivouac-tour somewhere far far away from Zürich on the Street Parade weekend. Also this year, the weather was friendly enough. My night under the stars also coincided with the highlight of the Perseids meteor shower, so I was looking forward to seeing lots of "shooting stars".

Day 1
Giw - Gibidumpass - Ochsehorn - Blausee
4h, 1050m ascent, 450m descent, T4-

"Giw AG" is celebrating the 50th anniversary. A poster on the "Heidadorf Visperterminen" website promises free rides on the Postauto from Visp to Visperterminen and on the Visperterminen-Giw ski lift. The free Postauto turns out to be a lie. Not that 3.40 Swiss Francs is a big deal, but false advertising is still pretty low... At least the ski lift is indeed free today.

From Giw, I hike up to the Gibidumpass. According to the map, the ridge path from the Gibidumpass to the Ochsehorn should be marked white-red-white. In reality, the first part is not marked at all, until after the cross near the Rothorn. From there on, many shiny new waymarks suddenly appear, both white-blue(!)-white as well as orange dots. The fresh snow starts at ca. 2300m. Others have already broken trail. Higher up, starting around P. 2766, there are a few more exposed sections, just about justifying the white-blue-white colours. Between P. 2766 and P. 2827, a 4m tall rock wall needs to be scrambled down. This is not exposed and easier than it looks on the photos. There is a new fixed rope here as well (compare Felix's photo from 2016 with my photo from 2017). More fixed ropes have been installed just below the Ochsehorn summit.

On the other side of the Ochsehorn, the path is marked white-red-white. Indeed, with the exception of the first few metres below the summit (which are quite exposed), the descent to the Blausee is easy. At the Blausee, I prepare my bivouac and I cook dinner. From where I'm sitting, the peak of the Böshorn/Rauthorn, shining in the evening light across the valley, is a particularly striking sight. I had not heard of the Böshorn before, but it's high up on my to-do list now. (T5+ according to the Alpinwandern guidebook, here on Hikr mostly graded as T6, the last Hikr report of a summer ascent dates back to 2010!)

After eating, I hike back up to the ridge (to Wyssgrat P. 2886, 300m of additional ascent, not included in the stats of this report) in the hope of catching a nice sunset. Unfortunately, darker clouds in the west block my view. Still, the evening atmosphere is impressive and the exercise has warmed me up before I crawl into my sleeping bag.

The same clouds obscure the stars during the first hours of the night. Shortly before midnight, the clouds disappear, but a bright three-quarter moon has also risen, creating suboptimal conditions for star-gazing. Still, I'm able to see some magnificent "shooting stars". My count reaches seven, after which I'm too tired to keep my eyes open any longer.

Day 2
Blausee - Simelihorn - Mattwaldhorn - Blausee - Suone Heido - Gibidumpass - Giw
6h45, 750m ascent, 1350m descent, T4

As usual with my bivouacs, I only leave the warmth of my sleeping bag after the sun has risen. After eating breakfast and stashing my camping gear between some boulders, I start hiking around 8am. The surroundings of the Blausee were 90% covered in snow last night, but the snow has melted overnight, leaving a coverage of only about 50% now. As I climb to the small, flat valley of the Findletälli, everything quickly turns white again. Today, I have to break trail as well. While the "Mattwaldhorn" sign at the Blausee is white-blue-white, the path itself only features some old white-red-white markings, as well as some cairns. There are no real difficulties until the final ascent of the Simelihorn (also called "Galenhorn" by the locals). The climb over irregular blocks is not trivial when everything is covered in fresh snow. The Simelihorn summit is an superb viewpoint, arguable even superior to the views from the higher Mattwaldhorn. The panorama features 29 (!) different 4000m peaks, as well as stunning views onto the Bietschhorn, the Grosser Aletschgletscher, Monte Leone, the Mattmark reservoir, etc. I write my name on the very last page of the summit book. Hopefully it will be replaced soon. Then the stupid discussion about the name of the summit, which disgraces the first couple of pages of the book, will also disappear.

The ridge across to the Mattwaldhorn (confusingly also called "Simelihorn" by the locals) takes a little longer than expected, on account of some up-and-down scrambling (T4, not really difficult but time-consuming) in the middle part of the ridge. The summit cross and log book can be found at the eastern end of the wide summit. The container of the summit book needs to be hammered open. Even that is in vain, because the book has been completely full since June. With binoculars, I can spot dozens of mountaineers on the Weissmies. Also on Lagginhorn, several parties have successfully conquered the fresh snow.

I descend along the same route towards the Blausee, only taking a slight short cut below the Simelihorn summit (traversing strenuously over snow-covered boulders). Between the Simelihorn and the Blausee, my footsteps from earlier have been joined by the descending footsteps of another hiker. I wonder where this other person came from and how we missed each other...

At the Blausee, where I collect my stashed gear, the solitude is finally over. Several groups of hikers are here, as well as a group of distinctively half-black/half-white goats ("Valais Blackneck") which being herded down the slopes. I hike back towards the Gibidumpass along the 5km long Suone Heido. Unfortunately, the water often runs underground, but the path is still beautiful, even spectacular in places. The Suone Heido feeds the Gibidumsee. It's tempting, but a just a bit too cold for me to try swimming in the lake. Instead, I refresh with a beer and a Rösti (garnished with grapes!) at the restaurant at Giw, before taking the ski lift down.


PS: Among the other reports covering some of the same summits, I can particularly recommend Mistermai (*once and *twice) and *WoPo1961.

Hike partners: Stijn

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


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T4- I
T3+ I

Comments (2)

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Chrichen says:
Sent 16 August 2017, 07h51
Super Bericht von einer ganz tollen Tour! Da hast Du das Wochenende wirklich gut genutzt. An den Bildern kann man sich kaum satt sehen. Super, dass Du so viele Berggipfel und Orte beschriftet hast.
Viele Grüsse, Christian

Stijn says: RE:
Sent 16 August 2017, 17h50
Vielen Dank Christian!

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