Strahlegghorn: A small summit among the Berner Oberland's giants
⇑ Med. / PD II+
Θ Out & Back
"Now what do we do?"
Rain cascaded off my hood, obscuring the gap between myself and Kim where she sat huddled beneath a small boulder on the glacier. I wasn't just asking Kim, I was asking myself.
We'd made it as far as the exit of the glacier, before the long ascent to the Strahlegghorn, when it started to pour. For the last hour we'd been annoyed at the increasing clouds and drizzle on a day that MeteoSwiss had forecast to be 100% sun. MeteoSwiss isn't often wrong, but these are the Alps and sometimes they do as they please. It was time for a decision. We could either continue by moving higher into the black cloud and rain, or we could sprint for the Schreckhorn Hut, plainly visible, just 20 minutes away. The fact that we could smell wood smoke coming from the chimney made it an easy call.
"I wonder what's in the oven..."
"You know if we go to the hut we aren't likely to finish this thing off," I stated.
"We'll see. Depends on how good the coffee is."
Sure enough, 30 minutes later we had empty coffee cups and a plate formerly home to an apricot tort in front of us. The sun returned and beat brightly in through the windows as we bantered with the friendly hut keepers.
"I guess we go back," Kim said with mild enthusiasm.
We'd left the car at 4:15 that morning and it had taken about 3 hours to where we turned around on the glacier. We'd made a time investment to get here, we'd have to have another go.
Our second lap on the glacier was much faster and we were soon clawing our way up a muddy transition from glacier to rockand back to trail. The Strahlegghorn is done from the same approach as its much mightier neighbor, the 4078-meter Schreckhorn. As such, the trail is well worn until about 3000 meters when it becomes unpleasant at best. After some time finding your way through loose and shifting scree, the Schreckhorn crowd continues left, while the Strahlegghorn-bound climbers go right to what the map shows as the Gaagg. Here, slabby rock merges with a sadly decrepit glacier until the Strahleggpass at 3332 meters. Expecting to arrive to the glacier much earlier, we'd brought light crampons, but with the rain and the coffee break, we were much later than planned and had no need. Instead, we post-holed up knee deep slop to the beginning of the Strahelegghorn's north ridge. There, we left our poles and crampons and started up the crumbly rock to the summit.
The Strahlegghorn is not a beautiful mountain. The route to the top isn't much to brag about either. But what makes it all worthy as one of our Way Up routes is the experience as a whole. It's a package deal. The view from the top is spectacular. Sure, you aren't sitting on top of a pretty mountain, but with many of the Berner Oberland's biggest peaks surrounding you, including the Finsteraarhorn, Mönch, Eiger, Fiesherhorn, Schreckhorn and Lauteraarhorn, there is reason to be impressed by your day. Starting from Grindelwald, you will have about 2500 meters of up in your legs. That's also something to be happy about. Until of course you start down.
Good thing there's that hut. Better yet, two. You'll also have the Bäregg Hut as a pitstop for your descent, which is run by two of the friendliest hut keepers in all of Switzerland. Be sure to say hello to Heiri and Helen when you stop in for that rösti and beer. You're going to need it.
Start: 46.613350, 8.046112
While possible in running shoes, you need to know when it is possible in running shoes. Conditions must be right.
- Many parties opt to rope up for the actual summit ridge. You need to know your skill level for the grade.
- You can travel a bit lighter if you use the two huts for food & drink.
Still on trail below the Schreckhorn Hut, unexpected clouds started developing.
The last of the green grass before reaching the cables & ladders to reach the Schreckhorn Hut. This approach is not for everyone! The trail, while official, is difficult and requires a good head for steep and exposed terrain.
Just below the Schreckhorn Hut is the last of the gentle ground. From here, it's alpine.
Kim steps over obvious crevasses on the Oberischmeergletscher while on the way to the Strahlegghorn.
Crossing the short glacier to the Strahleggpass and the start of the short ridge climb to the summit of the Strahlegghorn.
On the Strahlegghorn's north ridge. Nothing special...except the view!
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