Photo Essay: Hiking in Aletsch, Switzerland (Part II)

This is a continuation of my day hiking from Belalp to Riederalp, in the Bernese Alps. Don’t miss the first part of the 14 kms hike!

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At the time I placed my feet on the suspension bridge, adrenaline sarted to rush through my veins. I was walking on a gridded floor, and 80 meters beneath, the Massa river carried freezing meltwater coming straight from the glaciers.

As I approached the center of the bridge, I took a moment to admire the landscape. Impressive mountains on both sides, a furious river rushing below, and Europe’s largest glacier appearing in the back of the narrow valley.

20110823-094538.jpgMy view to the left.

20110823-095537.jpgMy view to the right.

After we had crossed the suspension bridge and climbed up a sandy path, we reached a small lake, the Gruensee (in english, Green lake).

It was surprising to read that, only 80 years ago, this area was still covered under the Aletsch glacier.

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What a difference has global warming made.

It’s scary to think that, in only one year (from 2005 to 2006), the Aletsch glacier lost 100 meters. According to scientists, the glaciers are retreating at an average rate of 3% per year – based on this rate, it is highly probable that our grand children won’t get to see Europe’s glaciers. Bloodcurdling, right?

When we entered the forest, we were greatful for the shadows its old trees were creating. Hiking at 2,000 meers altitude hadn’t been as refreshing as we had initially thought!

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The Aletschwald (in english, Aletsch Forest) stretches on the northern slope of the Hohfluh and Moosfluh mountains, beween 1,600 and 2,200 meters altitude and collects some of the oldest trees of Switzerland. Tests have shown that the swiss stone pines located in the forest are at least 600 to 700 years old!

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But it wasn’t only the flora that rewarded us for the (challenging) walk up to Riederfurka. Besides for enchanted trees and a variety of mushrooms, we were lucky to pass close to a pair of curious alpine ibex.

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After 3 hours of continuously walking uphill, we finally reached civilization – a pretty little hotel in Riederfurka, with breathtaking views over the forest, the glaciers and the path on which, one by one, exhaused but satisfied hikers emerged from the forest. A perfect place to rest ones feet, drink cold water and do some serious hikers watching.

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It took us 20 minutes to arrive to Riederalp, from were we took the cable car to Moerel – the closest train station. However, we couldn’t leave the swiss mountains without one last whim:

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A Valisian platter with local dried meat and cheese!

Practical Information

Route: From Belalp to Riederfurka (around the Aletsch Glacier in the Bernese Alps, Switzerland)
Elevation gain uphill: 475m
Elevation gain downhill: 479m
Length: 14 km
Duration: 4 – 4.5 hrs (including admiration stops!)
Difficulty: Moderate
Wikiloc: Aletsch Glacier. Note that this loc goes past Riederfurka further to Bettmeralp.

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19 thoughts on “Photo Essay: Hiking in Aletsch, Switzerland (Part II)

  1. Wow! Lovely pics! I love Switzerland! I definitely agree with you about the melting glaciers….it’s such a scary thing. People need to be better educated about the effects of global warming 😦

  2. How breathtaking!! And wilderness at its best. Looks kinda scary, not going to lie. But like a trip of a lifetime!

    1. I found the lake somewhat scary…. It’s strange composition killed any kind of p,an or animal that was in it! The panel said “careful a moore is being created”… Sounds like a horror movie from the 70s! 🙂

  3. What a beautiful post! I feel like I have had the privilege of taking this walk with you. Of course, there is no way that I would have. The sight of the world below your feet on the suspension bridge made my world feel like it was dropping and reminded me of this strange fear of heights that I developed in the past 10 years.

    I love that platter in the last photo. Yummy! That is just the type of yumminess I like to eat.

    1. Hi Emm! Fear of hights was definitely a plus on this hike – but one can cross the bridge without looking down (most of the people did – I was just too curious!)

  4. It’s so crazy that the glaciers are melting that quickly. Makes me want to travel that much more…need to go see all of these beautiful things in the world before they disappear!

  5. I need a carrot and a stick when hiking, and the meat and cheese platter at the end would certainly be a motivation!

    I don’t like heights much but for some reason, I’m okay with it if there is water underneath, the sea or a river. I know it doesn’t make a huge difference if you fall but it’s psychological.

    1. I wasn’t really scared either, as I felt safe (there was side protection on the bridge, obviously!). I think i ony get scared if I don’t have anything I can grab on to!

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