Wiwannihorn: A day of running and climbing
2000 meters gain, buffed single track, and clean rock to a 3000 meter summit
Climbing the Wiwannihorn
One of the best Indian Summers was about to come to an abrupt end and we weren't quite ready to stop. Being late October, the forecast wasn't for heavy rain, it was for heavy snow, and at this time of year it doesn't go away if it warms back up. We had just one day before it all changed. This was going to be our last big run of the year in the high mountains, we wanted it to be great.
The math was easy, beginning in Ausserberg, at 1000 meters, we'd be going to the summit of the Wiwannihorn at 3001 meters. 1800 of those meters are on trail, much of it runnable, and all of it spectacular as you rise above larch forest and into alpine talus. Once beneath the Wiwannihorn, there are two options to gain the summit which can be done either as an up and down or a loop. On the south face is what's considered the Normal Route, and rated 2b, which I would compare to American 4th class climbing. Or, the West Ridge, also 2b. We chose to go up the West Ridge and down the South Face, in running shoes, and had no problem, but we are all experienced climbers. Both routes have some moves that might not be for everyone given the exposure and consequences. The rock is perfect, though! Some of the best we've seen for routes of this grade in such a wild setting. I consider it one of the best Way Up routes I have done in the Alps, ever!
After descending the south face, we had about an hour of light left, and already storm clouds were filling the evening sky. Our descent was the more direct trail straight down, through golden larch and sweeping, buffed singletrack. The ideal ending to a great year.
Ready for the next Way Up, try La Ruinette.
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Start: 46.314487, 7.850803
- Be sure you can get down what you got up. Both routes are exposed and require careful movement.
- Wear trail shoes you feel comfortable climbing in. Good grip is important for the scramble.
- Go early to avoid summer thunderstorms. And, only go when it's dry. Check in with the Wiwanni Hut for a condition report.
Spending the first meters in the changing larch.
Smooth grass connects the larch forest with the alpine. In fall, the grass is short and clean.
Single track doesn't get better than the approach to the Wiwanni Hut.
Below the Wiwannihorn.
Approaching the summit of the Wiwannihorn by the SW ridge's immaculate rock.
On the summit looking out to the Bietschhorn.
After passing the Wiwanni Hut, the running is almost smooth & fast enough for take off. Kim always tries.
Finishing the Way Up season in golden light and larch. Even the air was glowing.
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