Bernese Alps. At the heart of alpine glaciers

Day 8: Finsteraarhorn hut – Grunnhorn pass – Konkordia platz on Aletsch glacier

After 4 nights spent at this incredible hut it was time to move on further  to Konkordiaplatz on Aletsch glacier. We departed the hut at 12:30, got down again on Fiescher glacier, put our crampons on and traversed it from its left side to the right one.

Looking back at the giant mountain while traversing Fiescher glacier

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                            Pilgrims. Finsteraarhorn in clouds and Fiescher glacier seen while ascending to Grunnhorn pass

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                                                    New horizons! From Grunnhorn looking down to Konkordia platz

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Konkordiaplatz frozen in time

  Timeless

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                             While aproaching Konkordiaplatz we admire the plethora of erratic blocks.

Finally, at 8 pm we were standing at Konkordiaplatz, choping the ice with our axes in order to have a decent camping place. Here, at 2800 m alt.  is the point of converging four large glaciers coming down from the Aletschfirn, the Jungfraufirn, the Ewigschneefäld and the Grüneggfirn. We were at the core of the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And what a night we had! All the time we could hear the thundering avalanches on the mountains nearby and the sound of cracking ice.

Day 9: Konkordia platz – Aletsch glacier – Marjelen lake

 

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Aletsch Glacier. Dreieckhorn (left) and Aletschhorn (right), from the Konkordiaplatz.

Our camping place overlooked by Dreieckhorn (3811 m) and Aletschhorn (4193 m). The thickness of ice below us is more than 900 meters.

We spent the whole day on Altesch glacier. An entire day of my life wandering and zig-zaging through the huge crevasses of this giant glacier, the largest glacier of the Alps! This glacier has 23 km in lenghth, 1,5 km in width .  How much I wanted to see and walk along the double medial moraine!

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Aletsch glacier

Interrupted

Not only the crevasses we had to cross, but also streams on the glacier’s surface that turned sooner or later into torrents, some of them disappearing into crevasses.

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Streams on Aletsch glacier
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Glacial torrent on Aletsch
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Aletsch glacier

Frozen waves

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Aletsch glacier. Worlds collide

Around 8 c’clock, after 9 hours of extatic state induced by the glacier, we had to put an end of it. We got closer and closer to its left side, looking for a nice transition from ice to solid ground. Then we climbed on the steep slope and found a way that led us to Marjelen lake. We set up the tent on its shore.

Day 10: Marjelen lake – Aletsch Panoramaweg – Riederalp

Another beautiful day spent in the company of Aletsch glacier, this time observing it from above while hiking the fantastic trail called Aletsch Panoramaweg.

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Märjelensee (2348 m alt.)
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Aletsch glacier with its double medial moraine

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Aletschhorn seen from Aletsch Panoramaweg

 

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Panoramic shot of Aletsch glacier

 

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Aletsch glacier seen from Aletsch panoramaweg

Late in the afternoon we arrived at Riederalp (1900m alt.), a very nice high altitude resort. As many other high altitude swiss resorts, Riederalp is a traffic-free village, being accessible only by cable car. This is also a very expensive place, at least for our pockets. After trying (without success) a couple of times to find an accommodation overnight for a reasonable price, we went outside of resort and set up the tent nearby, on the grassy meadow.

Day 11: Riederalp – Aletchwald

Today we immersed ourselves into the deep quiet of the Aletsch Forest – Aletschwald, a forest that contains mainly primeval pines and larches. Here are the oldest pines in entire Switzerland, many of them being around 800 years old.

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Riederalp
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Riederalp
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Aletschwald

 

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Hängebrücke Aletsch

Then we crossed the suspension bridge (124 m length) over the Massa Gorge, situated in front of Aletsch glacier’s lower end. Very impressive, terrible windy and certainly not for acrophobiacs!

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Aletsch. Massa Gorge
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Michabel Group after traversing the suspension bridge over Massa Gorge

Late in the evening we found a good camping place in the midst of sheepback rocks, with magnificent views toward Aletsch glacier and Aletsch forest.

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Day 12: Aletschwald – Betmeralp – Brig

This was the last day in the Aletsch arena. We walked the trail up to Belalp at 2100 m alt., through green mountain pastures. On the way we were caught by a powerfull storm; fortunately we found a shelter under the roof of a shepherd hut.

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Undisturbed

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Still under the spell of Aletsch we look back frequently at its lower end and at Aletschwald as well.

We thought of taking the cable car down to Blatten but the prices were so high that we descended by our feet and we don’t regret it at all. Such a beautiful forest we crossed! From Blatten we took the buss to Brig and late in the night we set up the tent in the very crowded but cosy Geshina camping.

Day 13, 14 & 15: Lago Magiorre / Stressa, Italy

After 12 days spent in the glacial wilderness our swiss experience was coming to an end. Not the whole journey, just the swiss one. We had three more days left but not enough money to cope with the swiss economic reality. So what next? Italy of course! But where exactly? While we were traveling by train from Italy to Switzerland through Domodossola pass in the beginning of our journey ,we admired the incredible scenery of Maggiore lake in the area of Stresa. Back then I said to myself  that I must learn more about Stresa but I didn’t know that it will be sooner than I thought. So let’s go to Stresa right now!

Later that day we were on the shore of Maggiore lake, after 2 hours travel by train from Brig to Stresa. We found quickly a pretty nice acommodation at the 2 stars hotel Fiorentino, did some shoppings and then straight to the beach.What a transition we’ve made – from the cold harsh weather of high mountains to the mediterranean-like climate of the Maggiore lake!  We had the impression of being at the seaside. The water was warm so we plunged into the lake. It was the perfect point to end our venture into the Alps.

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Stresa. On the shore of Maggiore lake

 

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Stresa. Isola Bella seen from the shore of Maggiore lake.

 

Many thanks to my friend Claudiu Radeanu for his invaluable support.

 

 

 

 

 

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