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Klettersteig Aletsch

Published by Stijn , 25 August 2014, 20h03.

Region: World » Switzerland » Valais » Oberwallis
Date of the hike:17 August 2014
Via ferrata grading: AD-
Geo-Tags: CH-VS 
Time: 3:00

For my brother's initiation into via ferrata, we picked the Aletsch via ferrata. The route circles around the Gibidum reservoir (which received its water from the Aletsch glacier) without much ascent. A good thing for my brother, since he was still recovering from the MountainMan half marathon the day before.
There is a car park above the dam, at the end of the road. You reach it by following the main road through Blatten bei Naters, keeping left (taking the higher road) at the fork at P. 1436 (small hiker's signpost "Klettersteig"). People travelling by public transport will have to do the final 2.5 km on foot.
The route of the via ferrata goes clockwise around the Gibidum reservoir, covering a horizontal distance of around 4 km. The first half, on the west of the reservoir, is very easy. There's a lot of traversing on iron pegs, and there are longer sections of normal hiking path as well. About halfway the reservoir, there is a short variation, which goes parallel to and above the normal route for about 50m. This variation is slightly more difficult than the normal route, in particular the final descent back down to the normal route (K2-K3).
A long, high, but stable bridge crosses the wild river to the east side of the reservoir. A 10m wall, ascended directly by a ladder of iron rungs, provides the first real challenge of the day. After that, there's more normal hiking, until the route finally intensifies a little bit towards the end. There's more constant via ferrata-ing here, again with lots of traverses on pegs, but this time on steeper ground and more exposed than earlier on (K3).
The tyrolean at the end is no longer equipped with a fixed pulley system. There are just two cables spanned across the gap. Anybody who wants to use the zip wire, needs to bring their own equipment. For others, there is now an alternative route, that avoids the tyrolean, which we are forced to take as well. A pity, but understandable, since such zip wires are prone to accidents. This one in particular has been reported to be quite quick and difficult to brake.
At the end of the route, the car park is reached by crossing the dam. There's a good view of the Dom/Mischabel group from the eastern side of the dam.

The concept of a via ferrata traversing around a reservoir is rather original. The route itself rather easy and intermittent, only intensifying to a K3 grade in the final quarter. Enclosed in a narrow valley, there are only occasional mountain views towards the Fusshörner in the north and the Mischabel group in the south. The reservoir itself provides the main scenery. How this looks, depends a lot on the amount of water in the reservoir. During our visit, the water level was rather low. I image the whole thing would look more beautiful with more water in the reservoir.

Hike partners: Stijn


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28 Sep 06
Klettersteig Aletsch · WoPo1961

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