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Mountains & Rocks



Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Wallis, Switzerland, Europe

Lat/Lon: 46.11777°N / 7.71472°E

Object Title: Bishorn

Elevation: 13625 ft / 4153 m


Page By: alpenkalb

Created/Edited: Mar 22, 2001 / Apr 24, 2008

Object ID: 150214

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Page Score: 92.45%  - 39 Votes 

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For the mountaineer Hans Steinbichler from Chiemgau, who knew the western Alps very well, the Bishorn is the most beautiful ski-4000m-summit although it stands in the shadow of the Weisshorn. Because of the ski-mountaineering, the Bishorn got a second climbing season in spring.

The Bishorn is an often visited 4000m-peak with 2 summits:
  • W-summit: 4153 m (snow)
  • E-summit: 4135 m (rock)
    It is located on the extreme end of the north spur of the Weisshorn. There are different reasons for its popularity:

    1. The magical limit of 4000 m.
    2. The short and unproblematic ascent on the glacier from the highly located Tracuithütte.
    3. The wonderful view, especially to the Weisshorn-N-rigde.

    But from a long distanced viewed, the Bishorn seems to be more the end of this ridge than a summit on its own. The highest point is the W-summit with snow. The E-summit consists of rocks and is not very much lower. In spring, you can go with ski almost to the highest point. The Bishorn is mostly traversed by the mountaineers who climb the Weisshorn-N-ridge. Not many people climb the Bishorn on other routes besides the NW-flank. Only a few people climb the NE-face or the E-ridge.

    The first ascent was on 18th of August 1884, done by G. S. Barnes, R. Chessyre-Walker, Joseph Imboden and J. M. Chanton. On the 6th August of 1884, the female English mountaineer Elizabeth Fred Burnaby with the guides Joseph Imboden and Peter Sarbach climbed via the E-ridge for the first time the 4135 high secondary summit which lies 600 m northeastern of the main summit. It is not clear, whether they reached the main summit or not although Joseph Imboden was also member of the official first ascent group of the main summit. But anyway, this first ascent of a 4000m summit by a woman is one of the very first ascents of 4000m peaks, made by a women. Other examples are: Pointe Eveline (Aiguille du Jardin) and Pointe Croz (Grandes Jorasses). As very convinced advocate of women-alpinism, she founded the "Ladies Alpine Club" in London in 1907 and was president of this club. She wrote the first book about winter tourism: "The High Alps in Winter". Between 1882 and 1896, she climbed successfully 113 high alpine tours.

    For the Routes compare the section Routes-Overview below.

    Getting There

    There are two possibilities to approach Bishorn. Zinal and Turtmann valley. Zinal can be reached by car or bus starting at Sierre/Siders. The main valley of Zinal is called Val d'Anniviers. Sierre (533 m) is located in the Rhone valley. Turtmann valley has no bus, only cable car to Oberems (1341 m). By car or taxi you can drive to Sennturm (1901 m). If you have a bicycle with you, there is a paved road to the lake (2174 m) below the Turtmann hut . From there 1 hour to the hut.

    From west via Cabane de Tacuit (3256 m):
    • You reach the hut from Zinal (1678m, Val d'Anniviers) in 3,5 h (1580m) directly. This is the shortest ascent. From the soutern end of Zinal (sign), you go on a very good and marked way via Dobert (possibly by car) to Le Chiesso (2061m). You climb over the steep step below Combautanna with a S-traverse. From here (2578m, 2,5 h), you go up on a way below the Diablon up to the Col de Tracuit (3250m). A few minutes to the hut. This can also be a ski route, if there is little snow and no danger of avalanches.

      Or nicer and winter route:
      Follow the Naviscence river to Le Vichiesso (car parking possible) . Follow the path to the Cabane d'Ar Pitetta to Le Vichiesso (1826 m). A little above is a small lake (take a short swim!) and keep north in direction of the Roc de la Vache. After the saddle descend and reach the normal way below Combautanna. 4 hours. With skis: head directly to the hut and stay mainly in the valley.

    • From the Turtmannhütte, you reach the hut in 3,5 h (I, passage), 800 hm. From the hut, you follow the clear way up in SE-direction to the S-end of the Barrwand. You climb through an outstanding couloir (Gässi), on the orographically left side. You reach the moraines above. You have a view to the creavasses and can think about the way. You go straight on to the Schöllijoch. Then you go to the right and the moraine slightly down in order to reach the Bruneggglacier via a slippery rock passage on 2650 m. You traverse the glacier with SW-direction and enter a rockisle (Adlerflue) at about 2800m. You follow the track to the rock band and up to P. 2913 m. Afterwards, you go down on the western side of the Brunegglacier and traverse it to the Turtmannglacier at 2800m. You go below the flank of the Ciablon to the Tracuithut. This is also the ski-route.

    • From the Ar-Pitetta-hut, you reach the Tracuithut via the Col de Milon (2990m) in 3 h (750 hm ascent). It is partly without any way. From the Ar-Pitetta-hut, you traverse the grass hangs and moraines to the moraine which comes down from the Col de Milon to the S. Over this moraine, you go in 40 min. to the Col and afterwards over lumps of rocks and snow rests northern till 2700m down (Combautanna). Now via the hangs to the direct ascent from Zinal (see above). You meet it at P. 2931m.

    From east via Turtmann hut (2519m):
    • The Turtmann valley starts at Turtmann (rail station), a small town between Visp and Sierre. At Turtmann (628 m) you would not expect that there is a valley way above. A steep road and a cable car lead to Oberems (1341 m), from you where you realize that there is a wonderful valley with green meadows. It is much shorter than the neighbour valleys Mattertal and Val d'Anniviers. The inhabitants speak German, but only in summer, in winter the homes of Gruben (1822 m) are left empty due to danger of avalanches. Before 1950 the only way to get up there was by foot or mule. The cattle you see in the summer belongs mostly to farmers living farther down. The 800 cows graze on the left side of the river, the calves on the right side. On Blumatt is a cheese factory (5 tons per year) where you can taste and buy this local product.

      When you reach Sänntum (1901 m) by car or taxi and are not in a hurry, be sure to take the wonderful path via Holustei (2222 m) to the Turtmann hut (2519 m). 2 hours.


    1. NW-flank (normal and ski route):
    Cross the Turtmann glacier and head for 3544m. Then climb directly to the saddle of the summit peaks. Easy, 2.5 hours.

    2. SSW-ridge to the Weisshornjoch: G 2, 100 hm, 1/4 h. This saddle (4058 m) is the start of the north ridge of the Weisshorn climbers.
    - PD, I+, 3 h from the Tracuithut, 900 hm

    3. E-ridge from the Bisjoch: II (passages), G 5, 650 Hm, 3 h
    - AD-, II and I, mixed, from Turtmannhütte via Bisjoch, 3528m, and the Pointe Burnaby, 6,5 h (totally), 1700 hm
    - 47°, seracs 70° and more, 650 hm, 4-6 h
    - S, IV, 8 h

    4. NE-face Starting point NW of Bisjoch. Dangerous ice wall, up to 70°. To be climbed only after a detailed preview. Ca. 6 hours.

    When To Climb

    Summer and winter (with skis).

    Books and Maps

    Clubführer Walliser Alpen, Vol. II, Verlag Swiss Alpine Club
    Ski alpin, alpes valaisannes, Vol. 3, éditions du Club Alpin Suisse

    1:25000 no. 1327 Evolène
    1:25000 no. 1328 Randa
    1:25000 no. 1308 St. Niklaus
    1:50000 no. 5006 Matterhorn-Mischabel
    1:50000 no. 283S Arolla

    See the Swisstopo Map with many interesting features. Upload is in a seperate window.

    Further Literature

  • Hermann Biner, Hochtouren im Wallis. Vom Trient zum Nufenenpass. 2nd ed. 1996.
    ISBN 3-859022-160-5

  • Helmut Dumler/Willi P. Burkhardt, Viertausender der Alpen. 11th ed. Munich 1998.
    ISBN 3-7633-7427-2

  • Erich Vanis, Im steilen Eis. Munich 1980.
    ISBN 3-405-12158-2

  • Michel Vaucher, Walliser Alpen. Die 100 schönsten Touren. 2nd ed. Munich 1990.
    ISBN 3-7654-2124-3

  • Michael Waeber, Walliser Alpen. DAV-Gebietsführer. 12th ed. Munich 1999.
    ISBN 3-7633-2416-X

  • Accommodation

    1. CABANE DE TRACUIT (3256 m):

    The Cabane de Tracuit is situated southeastern of the Col de Tracuit, near the Turtmannglacier.

    - 110 beds
    - winter room
    - serviced from July to September
    - phone: ++41(0)27/4751500

    2. TURTMANNHÜTTE (2519m):

    The Turtmannhütte is situated on a rockspur above the northside of the Turtmannglacier.

    - 50 beds
    - winter room
    - serviced from last week of June to the middle of September
    - phone: ++41(0)27/9321458

    3. Camping
    in Zinal

    General Information

    For books, maps, webcams, trains, buses, weather, avalanches, rescue see my list Swiss Links in a new window.

    External Links

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    Posted Dec 12, 2005 8:51 am

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