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Rätschenhorn (descent over Sant Jaggem and Bärnet)

Published by Stijn , 19 August 2014, 11h10.

Region: World » Switzerland » Grisons » Prättigau
Date of the hike:10 August 2014
Hiking grading: T4 - High-level Alpine hike
Climbing grading: I (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: CH-GR 
Time: 6:00
Height gain: 950 m 3116 ft.
Height loss: 950 m 3116 ft.

The little Madrisa Land amusement park is still deserted as we start our walk from the Madrisa cable car. The first target of the day is the Geisshorn. The summit is marked with a wooden post, a little to the west of the marked path. A nice view rewards those who make the small detour to reach it (T3-T4 depending on the exact route). Or maybe the name Geisshorn really refers to the remarkable rock tower a little further north? That summit is definitely for climbers only, though.

Another remarkable tower awaits a little further on: the Bockhorn, with its pyramid shaped summit. Two other hikers have just discovered two dead goats lying next to each other at the foot of the horn. A rather disturbing sight. We hypothesise that they must have been struck by lightning. Going past the dead goats, the Bockhorn can be scrambled, but this is a little more difficult than might appear at first sight. A 3-4 m tall plate provides some serious scrambling at UIAA grade II+, or maybe even an easy III, which has to be down-climbed as well. The pyramid on the summit is easier, but be careful, because the cracks between the rocks are a little worrying: this pyramid might not stand forever.

I'm the only one in our group to scramble up the Bockhorn, but by the side of the Saaser Calanda there's some scrambling fun for everybody. Yet another little tower, this time with easy grade I scrambling through a little chimney. (There are in fact two chimneys next to each other, of which the one on the right has by far the better rock.) The views towards the Sulzflue and down the limestone cliffs that drop off below, is spectacular.

From the Saaser Calanda it's only a short way to the summit of the Rätschenhorn. On a limestone plateau, the views here are not quite as spectacular as before, and you wouldn't really guess that you're as high as 2703m above sea level. 

The descent from the Rätschenhorn to the Rätschenjoch brings an astonishing sight. The white limestone rock ends abruptly, making way for grass and for the black gneiss of the Madrisahorn. Not often do you get such strong contrasts in colour.

Up to now, we have been on marked paths (apart from the little detours and scrambles). Our descent changes this. We follow the ridge that includes the summits of Sant Jaggem and Bärnet. The ridge contains a lot of pleasant scrambling over countless blocks of rock (T4/I). A surprising mini-canyon cuts lengthwise through the summit of Sant Jaggem. A weather station can also be found here.

Descending Sant Jaggem towards the Schaffürgli, we encounter a group of people and goats. It turns out that the farmer is checking on the family who is herding his animals on the Alp. We tell them about the dead goats at the Bockhorn. Bad news for them, because the farmer recognizes his goats on our photo. They also suspect a lightning strike as the cause of death.

Bärnet ("not to be confused with the internet portal of the Swiss capital city" - wrote one joker here on Hikr) is our final summit of the day. There is some more scrambling on the way up. Make sure to keep as high on the ridge a possible, without diverting too much via animal trails onto the either side of the ridge, as some previous Hikr reports (by Schneemann and Shepherd) describe. The descent back towards the Madrisa Land is over a steep grassy slope, until the main hiking path is reached again.

Afterwards, we drive on to Andeer, finishing the day relaxing in the mineral baths.


There are six summits on this circular hike. However, none of them are particularly spectacular as summits. All but the highest point of the Rätschenhorn, are rather continuous points on the ridge, without requiring much extra ascent/descent. The Rätschenhorn itself is rather overshadowed by the Madrisahorn.

The real attractions of this hike, then, aren't the summits. Rather: the very natural line around the Chüecalanda valley. The spectacular limestone cliffs to the south of the Saaser Calanda. The strong contrasts in colour and geology of the scenery. The pleasant and solitary ridge scrambling over Sant Jaggem and Bärnet. The excellent views over the Prättigau. In short: a nice circular hike without a moment of boredom.

Hike partners: Stijn

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