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Hike to the Gaulihütte

Innertkirchen, Switzerland

Details

Distance

10 miles

Elevation Gain

3875 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Oliver Jevremov

The Swiss alpine 'hütte' experience is world renowned. This adventure offers an overnight stay (or longer) under the glacier, combined with a challenging but rewarding hike, spectacular views and quintessential swiss hospitality.

The trailhead beings at a small, and free of charge, car park located half way up Urbach Valley. You can either drive or walk from the Innertkirchen Train Station, but this will add an extra hour and a half to the hike.

The trail begins by meandering through picturesque cow fields, on a gradual incline, along side the Urbacwasser before passing into a thick wooded area. The trail becomes much steeper and continues on switch backs as it ascends.

Once you leave the woods behind, the trail levels out and crosses the first waterfall. This is a perfect place to fill your water bottle. You can filter if you like, but the locals will tell you they never do. Either way, it will be some of the cleanest water you'll ever taste. The trail then continues on a very slight incline for a good while, offering stunning views of the valley.

At some point you'll probably realize that the majestic and slightly daunting mountain ahead of you, is what you must conquer in order to sleep that night. But there is no turning back now. A little while longer, and the trail begins to steepen as you start your way to the summit.

You'll pass another waterfall, and a few very friendly mountain sheep, before reaching a fork in the trail. The trail to the left takes you on the low pass, offering a close up view of the Mattenalpsee, followed by a steep incline up the ridge line ending at the hütte. The trail to the right continues upwards on switch backs and summits at the tip of the ridge line, offering spectacular views of both the valley you just hiked, and the glacier ahead. This trail then skirts the ridge on a gradual incline, until you eventually reach the hütte.

Once you you have arrived at your destination, you can wash up, take off your boots, and enjoy a hearty swiss meal among friendly guests. Before settling in for the night, take a moment out on the patio to admire the view. It's breathtaking and worth a pause.

A quick note on the Glacier. In 1946, an American Dakota made an emergency landing - twelve officers were rescued after five days. The aircraft is still hidden in the glacier!

When you finally reach the point of exhaustion, your bunk, which consists of a sleeping bag, sleeping pad and pillow, awaits you in one of the attics. This is communal sleeping, so expect a few bed fellows and some snoring. You'll most likely drift off quickly though, 5 hours of hiking and a double serving of alpinemac will do that to you.

The next morning, you can choose to lounge, venture up onto the glacier with a guide (breakfast is served around 3am and 7am) or head back down the valley. You'll follow the same route back to the car park.

A few things to take into account:

Start your journey with plenty of time! The hike up can take upwards of 5 hours, depending on how often you stop. If you think you'll be late for dinner, and a much fitter hiker passes, ask them to inform the hosts of your late arrival.

The Gaulihütte is only accessible by trail or helicopter, no roads lead this way.

You must reserve dinner and a bed before you begin your adventure. You can pay when you arrive. The Gaulihütte also offers a good selection of wine and beer, but the prices are high. (It's all flown or hiked in after all)

This a a challenging and remote hike, but you will most likely meet many friendly travelers along the way.

The route is clearly marked with signs and the red and white alpine trail markers. Thank you Switzerland! But, do keep an eye out on switch backs, the markers are often painted onto rocks positioned above your eye line.

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Waterfall
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