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Peak-bagging in the Saflischtal

Published by Stijn , 1 September 2015, 21h04.

Region: World » Switzerland » Valais » Oberwallis
Date of the hike:21 August 2015
Hiking grading: T5- - Challenging High-level Alpine hike
Climbing grading: I (UIAA Grading System)
Geo-Tags: CH-VS 
Time: 2 days
Height gain: 3100 m 10168 ft.
Height loss: 2700 m 8856 ft.

Back in June, I hosted fellow Belgian Sarah in Zürich through CouchSurfing. She was on her way into the Oberwallis two work the whole summer as "Zusennerin" at the Alp Furgge in Gregniols. In return, I got an open invitation to come spend a night on the alp. An ideal opportunity to combine this with some peak-bagging in the Saflischtal.


Day 1 ("Saflischtal south")
** Binn - Meiggerhorn - Gibelhorn - Rothorn - Oberblatthorn - Seewjihorn - Graus Horli - Saflischpass - Furggerchäller
2250m ascent, 1250m descent, 9h30, T5- / I

From the bus stop in Binn, I walk down to the peculiarly picturesque hamlet of Ze Binne before starting the ascent into the Saflischtal. At Sickerchäller, I turn left towards the Meiggerhorn. The path is sometimes a little vague, but regularly there's a white-red-white marking to confirm that I'm on the right path. There are no noteworthy difficulties until the final stretch to the Meiggerhorn summit cross, which is a little more exposed (T3). Considering that there's a marked path leading to this nice viewpoint, there are surprisingly few entries in the log book. This is also reflected by the fact that there's just one Hikr report until now, by Regula52. She also explored the subsequent ridge to the Gibelhorn. The ridge is pathless, but quite regularly there are vague trails left by previous hikers. Along the way, there are some spectacular views steeply down into the Mättital, with a beautiful little tarn with a large rock in the middle of it at P. 2300. Across the valley, the Helsenhorn, Hillehorn and Bortelhorn make an extremely impressive backdrop. There's a beautiful layer of fresh white powder on those 3000ers as well. It's a relief to see some fresh snow after this summer's extreme heat.

The crag of the Gibelhorn north-east summit (P. 2683) seems to be a major obstacle from a distance, but can actually be breached surprisingly directly with easy scrambling (T4). At the saddle of P. 2652, there's a possibility to descend into the Mättital, bit I continue straight ahead towards the Rothorn. The first part of the ridge looks uncomfortable, with reddish, brittle rock, but this can be avoided by following one of several vague trails through the steep scree-covered north face (T5-; better not climb too high, but stick to one of the lower trails). After this initial section, the ascent of the Rothorn is easier until a pinnacle seems to block the final ridge to the summit. However, looking around the right (north-west) of the pinnacle, a ledge offers a surprisingly convenient way to scramble around (T5-).

The descent to the west of the Rothorn starts slightly exposed on the ridge (again T5-) before I drop down into the west face, which is some kind of rocky maze. Luckily, a maze that has many possible ways out. At the Blauseelicke, there are two minor peaks to be gone up and down. Nothing big, but I'm starting to feel the significant ascent that I've already done. The 2.5 kilos of fresh fruit that I'm carrying to alp as a thank-you present are starting to weigh on my back as well. Moreover, I'm running low on water, but it's too far down to the Blausee (also called "Grängjersee" by the locals) to get water there. Instead, I've got a plenty more up and down ahead of me until the end of the ridge.

I make friends with flock of sheep, until they are left behind in disappointment when the terrain onto the Oberblatthorn gets too rocky for the grass-loving creatures. I continue over the Seewjihorn, P. 2691 and Graus Horli. The crux here is a short but really steep scramble onto P. 2718 (T4+).

Joining the marked hiking path at the Saflischpass, it takes another hour to reach my overnight accommodation at the Furggerchäller. (Normally NO accommodation available; only for visitors of the alp staff.) It's quite a busy night here, as another Älpler has family visiting as well. The occasion is used to make a nice raclette by a bonfire.

Day 2
** Furggerchäller - Breithorn - Furggerchäller
150m ascent, 150m descent, 45 mins, barely T2

As the cows are coming in for milking in the morning, I climb the Breithorn to witness the sunrise there. Unfortunately it's too cloudy to see the actual sunrise, but some of the higher Berner Oberland peaks that rise above the clouds are shining in the morning light. The Breithorn also hosts the largest collection of Edelweiss flowers that I've ever seen.

There is a fairly large bunker near P. 2451 that is worth an exploration as well, especially for GeoCachers.

** Furggerchäller - Bättlihorn - Saflischpass - Rosswald
650m ascent, 1250m descent, T4

The name "Bättlihorn" usually refers to P. 2951, with a summit cross and a large cairn overlooking the Rhone valley. Meanwhile, the actual highest point of the mountain (P. 2992) only goes by the slightly degrading name of "Bättlihorn Süd". The ridge between both summits is inaccessible and climbing the south summit requires a rather large detour, so most people limit themselves to climbing P. 2951, which offers the nicer views anyway.

The Bättlihorn is reached from Tanzbede, where you leave the marked hiking paths to ascend into the Bättlihorn-Milihorn-Saflischhorn cirque (the latter summit is only marked as P. 2843 on the Swisstopo maps). Approaching the Bättlihorn from the south-east, a clear path appears again, ascending through scree-covered slopes. This path is rather steep, but not quite as bad as it seems from a distance, and it's never really exposed (T4).

I descend from the Bättlihorn along the same route. The scree slopes of Bättlihorn south can be easily traversed to reach the Saflischpass without significant additional ascent. Ideally, you'd traverse around the 2580m contour, slightly higher up than my GPS track.

I was hoping to bag Grosse Huwetz and Fülhorn as well. However, still tired from the previous day, I decide to head straight down to Rosswald (a slightly tedious track that is rather popular with mountain bikers as well as with hikers). I'll have to come back another day to finish off my peak-bagging tour.


A great thank you to the guys at the Alp Furgge for hosting me and giving me this opportunity to bag so many peak in two days.

The highlight was definitely the long ridge from Meiggerhorn over Rothorn to Saflischpass on the first day. This ridge can also be completed as a (long!) day hike by descending down to Rosswald from the Saflischpass (in this case 2150m ascent, 1750m descent). Or slightly less hardcore: start at Heilligkreuz (the bus connection to Heiligkreuz does not seem to exist any more, unfortunately) and descend back down via Blausee after the Rothorn, leaving out Oberblatthorn and co. However you do it, it's a quiet, varied ridge, pathless but never extremely difficult. A real gem for alpine hikers!

Hike partners: Stijn

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


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