Lagginhorn: A 4000 meter peak Way Up
⇑ Med/PD II
Θ Point to Point
The Lagginhorn is one of the easiest 4000 meter peaks in the Alps at PD / II. It's also the rare opportunity to do a 4000er without having to travel on a crevassed glacier. This combo makes it an ideal candidate for a Way Up peak. In the right conditions, and with the proper skill and experience, it's possible to do as a mountain "run".
The trick is to know when it's in condition to do in running shoes and crampons. This requires experience. When we did the route we knew the rock was dry and the summit snow ridge was a series of frozen steps. In other words, perfect.
The trail begins in Saas Grund and rises steeply through forest to the Weissmiess Hut (2726m). After the hut, the trail fades as it moves through talus to an old glacier at about 3100m. The glacier, in 2016, had no crevasses, allowing us to move quickly across it to the west ridge. The west ridge is mostly easy scrambling on good rock, with short steps of UIAA II, until high on the route where we encountered some small snowfields, and a final snow ridge to climb to the summit. This ridge has been the scene of many fatalities and should not be underestimated based on your skill level and/or conditions.
For us, the ascent was certainly made easier with running shoes and light weight crampons as we could move lightly and with great agility. But yes, memories of the summit include cold toes... Overall, this is a great tour when conditions are right.
While you're in the region, be sure to also run the Saas Almagell loop and Saas Fee's Glacier Trail.
Learn more about the skills necessary to run Way Ups with ALPSinsight's Education pages for Mountain Running, Climbing 4000 Meter Peaks, and Mountain Sport Fitness.
Detailed GPX Track
Download the GPX File and import the route into your phone's mapping app and/or your watch for the full turn-by turn.
Your purchase supports the team at ALPSinsight to keep these runs coming.
Track does not go all the way to the summit.
Start: 46.12808, 7.93853
Town: Saas Grund
- Do not underestimate this route. Yes, it can be done in running shoes. The trick is to know when it can be done in running shoes. If you don't know, don't do it.
- No one will fault you if you take the Hohsaas tram down to save your knees for another day. Yes, it is an option.
The Lagginhorn West Face. The normal route enters the low, central small glacier from the right and traverses left into the ridge.
After scrambling up easy rock (II), a series of small snowfields are passed high on the ridge.
Bruno Schaub determined to do a 4000er in running shorts, no matter how cold the shadows got.
Janine Patitucci on the final summit ridge, which can be bullet proof ice and no place for running shoes.
Share this Run
Hey, so what is the best time to hike it? August? As at this time the snow levels are pretty much the lowest in Switzerland.
Most likely August or September for a mostly dry rock route – but then the top snow slope will most likely be rock hard ice. It needs to be very clear what conditions will be encountered, and of course to be prepared for anything.
July 23rd 2020 – conditions perfect ! Quite hard snow early in the morning, but it all worked good with running shoes and crampons (not spikes). I had mid-weight gloves and a puffy, they were both very welcomed at the top even if it could be crazy hot down the valley.
Alternate way down: hire a ‘Trotti’ for 19 CHF at Kreuzboden 🙂
Having been inspired to attempt this by this page I’d like to add as of September 2020 the glacier definitely has some crevasses, as well as risk from rockfall. Having gone up via the glacier and back down the ridge the whole way, I’d say sticking to just the ridge is the better path both up and down if you’re coming from Kreuzboden or the hut.