A romanian journey at the heart of alpine glaciers

Written by Sebastian Sava // Photos by Sebastian Sava, Catalin Crauciuc and Lili Crauciuc


As a mountaineer and geographer I was constantly fascinated by glaciers and countless times I dreamed of exploring the realm of ice. Well, that dream came true in high detail in the summer of 2011 when, accompanied by three other fellows, I stepped into the frozen heart of Switzerland: Bernese Alps, one of the most heavily glaciated areas of the Alpine chain. During an extended tour that took almost 2 weeks, we moved across the two longest glaciers of the Alps and few others more, camping from one place to another, dealing with big crevasses – some of them very well hidden, performing a crevasse rescue and ascending our first 4000 er.

Bernese Alps from high above. Route of the expedition The highest peaks of Bernese Alps: Finsteraarhorn (1) and Aletschhorn (2). Image taken from Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center. https://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/

Day 1: Iasi (Romania) – Grimsel pass -Oberaar see

Getting to the high peaks of the Alps from the eastern frontier of European Union in one day is not an easy thing. It requires a kind of ,,blitzkrieg” style approach: traveling continuously for 10 – 15 hours, using different means of transport with many changes, hiking the trail for the last few hours of the day till you reach the hut or the camping place. So, the scenario for this day was: car (Iasi – Bacau), plane (Bacau – Bergamo), bus (Bergamo – Milano), train ( EuroCity Milano – Brig), train (Brig – Oberwald) and finally again bus ( Oberwald – Grimsel pass).

From Grimsel pass we walked on the six kilometer long scenic road till Oberaar See, traversed the dam and continued on the north shore of the lake. It was getting dark when we set up the tents.




Day 2: Oberaar see (2303 m alt.) – Oberaarjoch hut (3258 m alt.)

I think it was the most tiring day of the whole journey beacuse we had to gain 1000 meters altitude, during a long ascent  on Oberaar glacier, carrying  our big and heavy backpacks. We had provisions for 10 days.

Camping on the shore of Oberaarsee

When we exited the tents in the morning, surprise! Wintertime conditions came unexpectedly overnight. Everything around us was covered with fresh snow.


We followed the marked trail (red sign) along the lake for about 3 kilometers till the end of it. Higher up we got onto the glacier, leaving the Oberaarsee behind.



                          At the gates of the mountains: Oberaarhorn (right), Oberaarjoch and Oberaarrothorn (center)


                                                    Climbers dealing the crevasses in the medial part of the Oberaar glacier


                                                                                      Oberaarsee from above

After 7 hours of strenous hike along the left side of the glacier we finally  reached the Oberaarjoch saddle, where we set up our tents.

Day 3: Oberaarjoch – Stuedl glacier

Oberaarjoch (3212 m)

                                                                           Loneliness aplenty spread before us

In the morning we left the tents and climbed the iron ladder and chains to the Oberaarjoch hut which is really perched on the steep, almost vertical rock face of Oberaarhorn mountain.  And what an amazing view you have from the terrace of this hut! Words are useless to describe the view. I let the pictures to speak:

Michabel group seen from Oberaarjochhütte


                        Mischabel Group seen from the terrace of Oberaarjoch Hut. From left to right: Alphubel, Täschhorn, Dom,                                                                             Lenzspitze and Nadelhorn


                                                                             Gross Wannenhorn (3906 m alt.)