Added by Dulkara Martig
Feel the exposure as you cling to the side of a vertical rock face on your way to the summit of Daubenhorn. This is Switzerland's longest Via Ferrata, in the stunning Bernese Oberland region.
There are many Via Ferratas in the European Alps. They provide a unique way to get to some impressive places with minimal equipment and climbing skills. A Via Ferrata is a protected climbing route, made of steel. You secure yourself to cables (using a special attachment on your harness) and climb up with the help of steel pegs and ladders anchored into the mountain.
While a Via Ferrata is much easier than pure rock climbing, you must have a good level of fitness, know how to use the simple equipment and have the confidence to travel with extreme exposure and very few 'escape' routes. If you do not have the experience or confidence I recommend hiring a local guide to accompany you.
This Via Ferrata happens to be the longest in Switzerland. It starts at 2030m and you will ascend over 1000 vertical metres to the summit of Daubenhorn at 2941m. Overall elevation gain and distance travelled will be much greater than what I have mentioned here, depending on which access routes you choose to take. The 3280 feet of elevation gain and 2 kilometres of travel is just for the Via Ferrata itself.
You'll find yourself going through a cave (which provides some much appreciated respite from the sun when it's baking hot!), ascending vertical ladders, steps, swinging bridges, tightropes and also just walking on exposed sections of trail inbetween the vertical sections.
Finish on top of Daubenhorn and soak in the views of Daubensee and down the valley into Leukerbad. Then you can walk across a snow covered glacier and descend a rocky (but marked) alpine route to the starting point. After around 60-90mins you'll reach a place where you can bask in the sunshine drinking a cold beer or cup of coffee while taking in the view of the vertical rock face you just climbed!
An epic day trip that can easily be turned into an overnight or multi-day trip if you utilise the surrounding extensive trail network.
There are two small mountain towns you can access this Via Ferrata from: Leukerbad or Kandersteg. Both of these places can be accessed with public transport. Here are the main access options, once you are in either of these towns:
- Take the Gemmi cablecar from Leukerbad to Gemmipass and then descend a few hundred metres on the Gemmipass trail
- Walk up on the Gemmipass hiking trail from Leukerbad
- Catch the Sunnbuel cablecar from Kandersteg and then walk (or mountain bike) the trail to Gemmipass. You can also walk the ridge from Gallihorn and then descend near Daubensee if you want to make the trip longer (this will turn it into an overnight trip)
To find the actual starting point you need to keep an eye out for a small sign on the main Gemmipass trail. A small track branches off and winds around some steep rock faces until you reach the cables. The coordinates are: 613 625 / 138 085.
- Make sure you check the weather properly - it's a terrible place to be in bad weather and once you're on the route there is only one main 'escape' point
- Start as early as possible - it's best if you can be one of the first groups on the climb as it reduces the chances of being caught in rockfall set off by others
- Bring some cash for the mountain hotel 'Wildstrubel' restaurant that is at the top of the Gemmipass. They also have free wifi access for customers.
- If this interests you but the length seems too extreme then research the shorter option in website link below.
- Climbing helmet - you will be exposed to potential rock fall for the entire route
- Harness with a Via Ferrata set (such as the 'Black Diamond Easy Rider Via Ferrata set'). You can hire this equipment from Lauterbrunnen or Kandersteg.
- Gloves (even simple garden gloves work well)
- Sun protection
- Small day pack for food, water and warm clothing
- Communication device - there is cell phone reception
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