Rigidalstock Klettersteg

Published by Stijn , 16 July 2013, 14h17.

Region: World » Switzerland » Obwalden
Date of the hike: 6 July 2013
Geo-Tags: Ruch- und Walenstockgruppe   CH-NW   CH-OW 
Time: 8:00

After a cancelled plan to do the Klettersteig in Braunwald two weeks earlier (due to the weather), this ended up being my first via ferrata in Switzerland. Through CouchSurfing I met up with four others. First, the Engelberg-Ristis cable car, immediately providing great view of the town of Engelberg with its monastry and the mountain scenery. Then, going up further with the ski lift to the Brunni hut, an extremely picturesque spot at the Härzlisee. There's also a "barefoot experience trail" here, and it looks like a perfect spot to take less active people for a relaxed day in the mountains. We had more active plans however.

Once those of us without their own equipment had rented via ferrata sets at the little hut next to the tarn, we started with the easy Brunnistöckli Klettersteig. This is one of two shorter via ferratas right by the Brunni hut, that join up for the last section. I found it slightly more difficult than expected for an "easy" via ferrata, some moves being not very obvious, but difficult it certainly isn't either of course. All in all a quite enjoyable via ferrata, a bit too busy though. Especially where the Brunnistöckli and Zittergrat routes join up, just before a wire bridge, there was a proper traffic jam.

Then we continued on to the main route of the day, the via ferrata up the Rigidalstock. Between the top of the Brunnistöckli Klettersteig and the start of the Rigidalstock Klettersteig, there is however first an annoyingly long, strenuously steep ascent over a normal path. And disappointingly, some clouds had appeared unannouncedly exactly at our altitude levels. That stopped us from getting the non-stop panoramic view that other reports rave about. It did make for some beautiful, atmospheric pictures, though.

The real Klettersteig then. I must say I didn't really warm to it. Having people both ascending and descending on the via ferrata (as is the only option) is far from ideal. But I also got annoyed at the unnatural positioning and spacing of some of the iron rungs. The clouds preventing us from getting descent views also didn't help, of course. It was a very nice surprise then, to come to the summit and discover the north side of the mountain much more cloud-free, offering a spectacular view of a wild landscape below, still very much filled with snow as well. That view alone made up for the imperfections of the Klettersteig itself.

The descent then, even more annoying than going up, but luckily it was getting later in the afternoon already and we didn't have to pass many people going up anymore. Back at the Brunni-hut, I still wanted to do the Zittergrat Klettersteig, still longing for something more challenging after the previous two via ferratas. So I split up from the rest of the group and went for the Zittergrat on my own. It being almost 5pm already, I now had the route for myself, much preferable to the traffic jams that we witnessed in the morning! The Zittergrat is very different in character to the other two via ferratas here, much more vertical! It's not a particularly inspiring Klettersteig, but the steepness and a couple of slight overhangs still provided what I was looking for: a challenge and the thrills that I didn't really find on the other two via ferratas. At the wire bridge I quickly passed a father and young son, who had come up over the Brunnistöckli via ferrata, and then made my way back down to the Brunni hut.

The ski lift had stopped operating at 5pm, so filled up my water and walked down to the Ristis station. I missed the shortest way, and ended up walking via Rigidalstafel, passing a rather peculiar mountain gnome figure with wheelbarrow on the  side of the bridleway. When I got to Ristis, I found that the cable car has also just stopped operating at 6pm. There still was some staff around, who looked like they might have offered to take me down in the cable car together with the staff of the restaurant who still had to go down, if I had asked for it. But I decided to play fair and just walk down to Engelberg. I pretty much halved the signpost, and made it down to Engelberg perfectly in time for the 7:00 train.

All in all, not the best Klettersteig, but certainly given a taste for more!

Hike partners: Stijn

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