The Hardergrat to Brünig Pass
An exposed journey along a knife edge ridge trail
This Run is featured in Run the Alps Switzerland: 30 Must-Do Trail Runs
Θ Point to Point
The Hardergrat has become a classic, and for good reason. There are few geographic features this defined with a trail so long. Of its 35km, about 18km are spent on a sharply defined ridge, with significant, even airy, drops on both sides, in fact... 1500 meters of drop.
It’s not just a trail, it’s a journey. The whole time on the ridge is spent with stunning views of the Jungfrau Region’s highest peaks; the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Schreckhorn and Finsteraarhorn. You'll have mental ups and downs when you see all that stretches out ahead of you. It looks impossible for a day, but it’s not. It’s just very, very long. Looking back at what you’ve done, it’s more like having climbed a route, or a big mountain. Do it and the memory stays with you.
The Hardergrat is not for those afraid of exposure, and should absolutely never be attempted when wet. The route is not an official trail, but a trail does stay on the ridge the entire length, with cables in place at the more exposed sections. However, the steepest section is unprotected, and a down climb if going west to east.
Here, we suggest the entire ridge, from Interlaken's Harderkulm trailhead, all the way to the Brünig Pass, where the ridge terminates. If you prefer a shorter day, finish at the Brienzer Rothorn Station after about 27km. Be sure to get in before the last train goes down to save your knees a 1700 meter descent. Check in with the Brienzer Rothorn Bahn's site for the timetable.
This is a mandatory good weather summer route and the trail should be free of snow on the north side. An early start is required from Interlaken to avoid being on the ridge in the heat of the day. There is zero water to be found until the Brienzer Rothorn Station. The trail is slow going and parties take up to 10 hours to finish it. Do not underestimate this route!
Start: 46.69091, 7.86527
Study the route at SwissTopo and have a map available for the run. Many underestimate the route and bail-out from the Augstmatthorn down to Lombachalp from which a bus may be taken back to Interlaken (summer only).
Do not attempt this route when wet or if rain is forecast. Descents are done on grass which becomes deadly slippery when wet.
Take enough water for a full day of exertion in the open sun.
- Trekking poles are highly recommended.
- Our Run the Alps Switzerland guide book has lots more info!
Leave Interlaken early and time your arrival at the Suggiture for sunrise. An early start eliminates time spent on the ridge in summer heat.
The first big view of what lies ahead comes at the Augstmatthorn. You'll either be very inspired, or intimadated. Probably, both.
This is the kind of terrain you'll find yourself in for much of the day.
Steeper sections with the exposure you'll encounter. We weren't kidding about the knife edge ridge.
Nearing the end of the ridge before the Brienzer Rothorn will have you on and off the proper ridge line.
Brody Leven on the final kilometers of downhill to the Brünig Pass. Nearly the entire ridge can be seen in the distance.
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