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Oberbauenstock and Schwalmis (Ostgrat + Arengrat)

Published by Stijn , 1 July 2015, 21h33.

Region: World » Switzerland » Nidwalden
Date of the hike:28 June 2015
Hiking grading: T4 - High-level Alpine hike
Geo-Tags: Bauen - Brisen - Bürgenstock   CH-NW   CH-UR 
Time: 7:15
Height gain: 1200 m 3936 ft.
Height loss: 1500 m 4920 ft.

The Niederbauen-Chulm was my first proper Swiss summit after I moved to Zürich in 2013. Two years later, I came back for the continuation of the mountain chain.


After taking the Niederbauen cable car, we head for the Oberbauenstock. There are no signposts at P. 1758, where the Oberbauenstock route leaves the main hiking path. However, after walking a little up the meadow, white-blue-white markings appear. The route goes through the north face of the Oberbauenstock, which is quite wet even after several days of dry weather, but still offers generally pleasant scrambling (T4). After reaching the ridge at Schwiren, the final push to the Oberbauenstock summit (T4 as well) goes through the south face.

Between Oberbauenstock and Schwalmis, there is some 5km of pleasant hiking along the ridge (mostly T3). A little past halfway is the Gandispitz with a gigantic summit cross. To our astonishment, more than a dozen of hikers have gathered here, far more than on the Oberbauenstock or on Schwalmis.

From Vorderjochli, we take the direct ascent over the Schwalmis Ostgrat (unmarked, no clear path, not recommended when wet). This is easier than it looks (barely T4), as long as you pick the correct place to breach the escarpment that guards the ridge above Vorderjochli. In good visibility, this is easily recognized from below as the deepest notch in the escarpment (see also Nobis' report and photos). The final grass slope leading to the summit looks spectacular but is not as steep as it seems.

We descend over the Arengrat (unmarked, no clear path, not recommended when wet), which is not really a ridge but more of a grassy tongue, with cliffs on the right side and steep slopes used for Wildheu-ing (traditional hay gathering in the mountains) on the left. For me, this descent is the unexpected highlight of the whole day. The particular shape of the Arengrat, its many colourful flowers and especially the views down ahead to Klewenalp, Pilatus, Buochserhorn, Bürgenstock, Vierwaldstättersee and Rigi are absolutely magnificent. The only tricky part of the descend is where to leave the ridge and turn left towards the Chälenegg hiking path. The correct place to do so is at 1850m altitude, directly under the final Wildheu-ing wire, just as the slope of the ridge is getting noticeably steeper. This lower section is T4, otherwise the Arengrat is T3. It's also an interesting goal in winter, as Sputnik has proven.

Reaching the official hiking path, the scenery suddenly gets far less stunning, as we're walking between skiing infrastructure and most interesting features have disappeared behind the Klewenstock. We descend to the Stockhütte, where the cable car takes us back down to Emmetten.

Hike partners: Stijn

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


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