One of the most unique ridge trails in the Alps
FINISH: Brienzer Rothorn Station, train down to Brienz
EFFORT: Difficult & Exposed
The Hardergrat has become a classic, and for good reason. There are few geographic features this defined, and this perfect, with a trail so long. All with stunning views of the Jungfrau Region’s highest peaks; the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Schreckhorn and Finsteraarhorn. It's not just a trail, it's a journey where you will have mental ups and downs, especially when you see all that stretches out ahead of you. It looks impossible, but it's not, it's just very, very long. Thanks to all its characteristics, when it's over you'll feel more like having climbed a route, or a big mountain. It's something that stays with you.
Of its 25km, about 18km are spent on a sharply defined grassy ridge, with significant, even airy, drops on both sides. In some places, 1500 meters of drop... It’s not for those afraid of exposure, and should absolutely never be attempted when wet. The route is not an official trail, but a trail does stay on the ridge the entire length and includes fixed cables at the more exposed sections. However, the steepest section is unprotected, and is a down climb if you are going west to east. Trekking poles are highly recommended.
An early start is required from Interlaken so as to make the Brienzer Rothorn’s last train down to Brienz. The trail is slow going and parties can take up to 10 or more hours to finish. Do not underestimate this route!
Check in with the Brienz Rothorn Bahn to see what time the last train departs, or, be prepared to descend 1700 meters after what has already been a big day.
TIP: Take enough water, there isn't any on the ridge from the Harderkulm station all the way to the Brienzer Rothorn. Also, study the SwissTopo map, there are bail out options that will get you down on either side. And remember, ice cream awaits at the finish.
An early start is necessary from Interlaken for many reasons; You'll never forget watching the sunrise on the Jungfrau group, cooler temps for the monster climb (less water needed), and to insure enough time to make the last train to Brienz.
As soon as you pass tree line, you are on the ridge proper and will stay on it for almost the entire route.
Krissy Moehl headed for the Brienzer Rothorn after passing the Suggiture at sunrise.
A very special summer day on the ridge where only the highest points were above the cloud line.
The trail literally stays on the ridge and often stretches out in front of you in the most intimidating ways.
At times, the ridge is airy and exposed with massive drops on both sides. In terrain like this you must be confident in your movement.
For the alpinists/trail runners, you'll find the ridge to be a remarkable feature to move on - as steep and crazy as it is, much of it is runnable...
Brody Leven with most of the ridge behind him.
Hiking the Hardergrat in Switzerland's 30° Magazine, by PatitucciPhoto/ALPSinsight.
Backpacker featured the Hardergrat, by PatitucciPhoto/ALPSinsight.
Switzerland's 30° Magazine Hardergrat feature, by PatitucciPhoto/ALPSinsight.