Gemsfairenstock is one of the easternmost summits of the long Windgällen - Clariden range in the Glarus Alps and the last one to the east, which reaches allmost 3.000 m of hight.
The north side is bearing a little glacier called Langfirn. On the south side there is a steep rockface looking down to Claridenhütte and the Claridenfirn.
Gemsfairenstock can be easily summited from Claridenhütte in the south and from Urner Boden - Fisetengrat in the north.
In winter and spring it is a popular ski hike from both sides.
In summer and autumn it is an easy alpine hike from both sides, too. A traverse from south to north (or the other way round) can be highly recommended. Many people do the north - south - traverse in winter and spring to begin their ski hikes in Glarner Alps.
The summit gives impressive views of the Glarner Alps, especially Tödi, Bifertenstock, Selbsanft, Hausstock and Clariden. To the north and northwest, Schächener Windgällen, Ortstock and Glärnisch are most prominent.
Claridenhütte - Ascent Routes
Claridenhütte (2453 m) is erected on the plateau of Altenorenstock, which separates Altenoren valley from Sand valley. The ascents to Claridenhütte are nearly all long and require an ascent of about 1.650 meters of altitude difference.
The most common trailheads to the hut are at Tierfed at the very end of Glarus valley. From the parking area there are three possibilities to gain Claridenhütte:
1. Follow the steep road from Tierfed leading via Pantenbrugg, an interesting double bridge getting over a deep iceage gorge of the Sand creek.
Arriving at the Vorder Sand and Hinter Sand Alp follow the trail in the direction of Planurahütte. After a long and steep ascent you reach the high valley of Ober Sand. There is a trail junction before you reach the Alp of Ober Sand; take the right trail which immediately starts to climb up the south slopes of the valley up to Beggilücke, a notch high above Obersand.
From Beggilücke you can easily summit Zuetribistock (2644 m) east of the notch before descending to the yet visible Claridenhütte.
This is by far the longest ascent and a full day of mountaineering work but a very impressive route.
2. After Pantenbrugg and a little flat, called Üeli, the road crosses the Sand creek again and ascends to a switchback. At the switchback there is a trail junction and Claridenhütte is signposted. Follow the trail through dense vegetation - it is very slippery after wet weather periods, which unfortunately occur so often in the Glarus mountains - and wood up to a water catchment.
The trail enters now the meadows of Rinderweid and follows the Walenbach creek up to Altenoren valley. Those meadows are a miracle in June and July, you will find rare plants and blossoms in abundance.
At about 1900 m (Heiterstäfeli) you have to cross the Walenbach creek and gain the Altenoren trail (see 3. below).
3. From Tierfed parking area cross the creek and immediately turn right. Follow the creek Linth to the north until the trail reaches an intersection with a forest road. Turn left and follow this forest road. It ascends through woods and gains after several switchbacks the Alps of Altenoren, a sort of terrasse meadows high above the end of Glarus valley. You pass Chrummlaui, Chäsboden, Ahornen and Altstafel until you arrive at Oberstäfeli (1776 m) where the road ends.
A trail follows the Walenbachcreek up the Altenoren valley until the trail junction with the trail 2.) (see 2.) above). Some switchbacks further on the trail unites with the trail from Fisetengrat (see 4.) below). It then zigzags up Gletscherchopf, a belay between Gemsfairenstock and Altenorenstock. You then enter a cirque with some rests of the Claridenfirn (socalled "Toteis", icefields separated from the main glacier due to heavy and quick melting). The trail traverses the cirque and gains Altenorenstock and Claridenhütte via a steep snow and morain scree field and a roped rock ledge leading up to the plateau with the mountain hut.
4. By far the quickest and easiest route is the one from Fisetengrat. A cableway starts at Urnerboden at the Klausenpass road and goes up to Fisetengrat. From the upper cableway station follow the trail to Fisetenpass (2036 m) and into Fiseten Valley. The trail traverses Fiseten Valley and crosses the east ridge of Gemsfairenstock / Rotstock and unites with the ascend routes 2.) and 3.) above Heiterstäfeli. Go on as described under section 3.).
Urnerboden (see above, point 4) and Fisetengrat are trailheads for a direct ascent to Gemsfairenstock and a traverse to Claridenhütte via the summit, too.
Red Tape & Mountain Conditions
No restrictions as far as I know.
Gemsfairenstock can be summited summer and autumn. In winter and spring Gemsfairenstock is a ski hike, accessibility depends on the snow conditions.
In summer and autumn you need full hiking gear including crampons and an ice axe. Full glacier gear is recommended.
In winter and spring you need full ski hike gear and your avalanche gear, too. Glacier gear is recommended.
Routes & Trails
Ascent from Claridenhütte
From Claridenhütte follow the trail to Beggilücke to the south, descending in a little valley south of the hut. Follow the markings diverging to the right from the Beggilücke trail. The markings follow the moraines below the quickly melting Claridenfirn. If there is still snow lingering and the markings are not visible just follow the moraine ridges and valleys to the west.
You have to reach the lower end of the south ridge coming down from Gemsfairenstock. This scree covered lower end hits the lower end of Claridenfirn. Turn northwest there, following the lower scree ridge and traverse to the upper northwest parts of the east end of Claridenfirn between Gemsfairenstock and Speichstock. You can ascend directly on Claridenfirn west of the south ridge, too.
There is a col between Gemsfairenstock and Speichstock. A trail leads from the upper end of the glacier steeply up to this col (point 2848 m on swiss topo map).
From the col you easily can summit Speichstock (2967 m) by following the connecting ridge Gemsfairenstock - Tüfelsstöcke off-trail to the southwest.
For Gemsfairenstock there are two possibilities:
The west ridge with talus, scree and easy rock scrambling: just follow the ridge up to the summit; there are some tracks visible, the lower part of the ridge is quite steep, the upper part flat, the whole thing is an easy scramble with great views to both sides.
Below the west ridge there is the northern glacier (Langfirn) of Gemsfairenstock. Enter the glacier at the col and follow its southern / upper end up to the summit.
Ascent from Urnerboden
From Urnerboden - Argseeli follow the trail passing Hinter Orthalten up to Fisetenpass.
You reach Fisetenpass, too, from the mountain station of Fisetengrat cableway.
From Fisetenpass follow the trail below Ober Orthhalten in southwestern direction to Hasentrittli. Now the whole thing will be off-trail.
Ascent the slopes of Ful Fad in southern direction to point 2558 m or 2595 m (or between these two points on the swiss topo map), this is called Obersulzbalm. It is a rock face with a gap to overcome it. There is a huge cairn marking this spot.
Ascent straight on to the south over moraine scree and rocks. You soon reach the Langfirn. Ascend on the glacier easy to the summit. If the lower end of the glacier is steep ascend the slope righthand of the glacier.
Mountain Huts and AccomodationsClaridenhütte
Kanton InformationsKanton Glarus
Weather and Avalanches
Swiss Weather link
Maps & Guides
Landeskarte der Schweiz, 1 : 25.000
Blatt 1193, Tödi
Bundesamt für Landestopographie, 3084 Wabern
Clubführer Glarner Alpen
Schweizer Alpen Club
Gebietsführer für Wanderer und Bergsteiger
Bergverlag Rudolf Rother