The Berner Haute Route

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route
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The Berner Oberland Haute Route Ski Tour

A skier's ski tour through a wild & quiet piece of the Swiss Alps




START: Steingletscher Hotel on Susten Pass, or from where the road is closed on the way to Steingletscher.

FINISH: Rosenlaui

EFFORT: Difficult


The Berner Haute Route is probably the best ski tour you’ve never heard of. In fact, the name “Berner Haute Route” is only occasionally used for this route.  And, it might just be one of the best ski tours anywhere. One thing it is not, is the better-known Berner Ski Tour. The Berner Ski Tour is the famous big-mountain, big-glacier tour around the Aletsch Arena. The Berner Haute Route is truly an haute route. It starts from the Susten Pass, traverses west through the hut system detailed below, and ends in Rosenlaui above Meiringen.

What makes this tour special is that it is skier’s terrain. While the tour requires you to stick to an agenda, it also allows the flexibility to peak-bag along the way, picking and choosing lines based on what looks good and is in condition. While it's certainly in big mountain, glaciated terrain, it's relatively user friendly with exceptionally good huts.


DAY 1: Steingletscher to Teirbergli Hut. Choose either Sustenhorn or Gwächtenhorn for the day's peak.

DAY 2: Teirbergli Hut to Trift Hut. This is an interesting day and very condition dependent. The morning starts with a straightforward climb to the Tierberglücke followed by the enormous descent of the Zwischen Tierbergen, the bottom of which may or may not be a mess of frozen avalanche debris funneling from above. Get through this and you’ll find yourself at the very bottom of a deep canyon wondering just how you’ll get out. From the base, just above the south end of the Trfitsee, you start heading up on the west side of the canyon. Aim for the creek directly opposite of your descent, and boot pack to about 2000 meters. From here, you’ll follow the terrain to access the Oberer Triftgletscher where you have the option to ski the Steinhüshorn. This is not a straightforward day given the complex terrain, and it should not be attempted in poor visibility, late in the day, or with avalanche risk.

DAY 3: Trift Hut to Bächlital Hut. This is an absolutely beautiful, but long, day with many options. You’ll want to get an early start if temps are high, the approach to the Bächlital Hut sits in a terrain trap. With this in mind, start up the massive Triftgletscher to gain access to the even more massive Rhonegletscher. While not steep, it's a very fun, and long, low-angle descent to about 2600 meters. There you’ll start skinning again to the Gärstenlucke for the giant, and steeper, descent to the Räterichs Bodensee. Directly across the dam, you’ll skin up to the Bächlital Hut through a narrow canyon. This is the terrain trap. Pay attention and consider the option of staying outside on the more open faces. But, these are also prone to sliding in the afternoon. The climb by either option can be serious business late in the day. Your decisions here are critical.

 

DAY 4: Bächlital Hut to Gauli Hut. There morning is spent going uphill for a long time! But, you know what that means… Head for the Obri Bächlilucke which uses chains and ladders to aid in passing. Once over to the west side, you can choose to ski the 1000 meters down to the Gaulisee, or opt for more up with an ascent of the Hienderstock. Now you are in the arena of the Gauli Hut, one of the finest ski huts in the Swiss Alps. The surrounding terrain is enough to keep you busy for a week of peak skiing. But, you're not there yet, a nasty surprise awaits at the approach to the hut. It doesn’t sit at the bottom of what you ski and requires a fairly complicated, but thankfully not too long, approach. Time to rethink staying some extra days...

DAY 5: Gauli Hut to Rosenlaui. The grand finale, the exit of the Berner Haute Route is an incredible tour all on its own. With the addition of a peak, the day is even better, and there are options:

1) Big. Ski out over the Westliche Wätterlimi then down the Rosenlauigletscher.

2) Big. Ski out over the Ränfenhorn then down the Rosenlauigletscher.

3) Bigger. Ski out over the Westliche Wätterlimi, climb the Rosenhorn, then ski down the Rosenlauigletscher.

4) Huge. Ski out over the Westliche Wätterlimi, climb the Wetterhorn, then ski down the Rosenlauigletscher.

All options are great! The Rosenlauigletscher is both stunningly beautiful and a great ski.

 


Do not consider this the fixed itinerary! It is a way through the tour, but like any ski tour, there are options, and alternative routes based on weather, avalanche danger, and snow depth. A guide is highly recommended for all ski tours in the high Alps. This is serious terrain and our information is only to show you what is possible.



TIP: To maximize fun levels, go with someone who knows the region. Consider allowing a spare day to add to the tour for weather delays, or as an extra day at either the Trift or Gauli Huts. These are both huts you won’t be in a hurry to leave.



Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 1: Skiing the north face of the Gwächtenhorn, before heading to the Tierbergli Hut

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 2: Morning departure at the Tierbergli Hut

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 2: Headed for the Tierberglücke and Trift Hut

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 2: Headed for the Trift Hut from the Steinhüshoren

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 2: The Trift Hut laundry room

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 3: It might not be steep, but the Rhonegletscher is fast & fun for a very long time

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 3: After sking the Rhonegletscher, it's time to skin back up another 500 meters before the next 1300 meter descent

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 4: The early bird gets the corn from the Bächlital Hut - headed for the Gauli Hut

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 4: Simon Duverney descending the Bächlilucke's chains

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 4: Once over the Bächlilucke, it's the magical kingdom of the Gauli Hut

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 4: Order a rösti mit speck und spiegelei - do not forget!

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 5: Headed for the Ränfenhorn and the big out via the Rosenlauigletscher

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Day 5: The Ränfenhorn and the distant landscape through which we've passed

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Ski Tour Berner Haute Route feature, by PatitucciPhoto/ALPSinsight

Ski touring on the Berner Haute Route

Ski Tour Berner Haute Route feature, by PatitucciPhoto/ALPSinsight

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