The Hockenhorn is a very nice smaller peak that sits on the border between the Kantons of Bern and Wallis in Switzerland. The regular routes are hike/scrambles but it has at least one technical route. The spectacular views of the south side of the Blümlisalp range, the north side of Bietschhorn and the high mountains of the Pennine Alps of Wallis make this mountain a very worthwhile goal.
While this summit can be reached in one very long day from the Kummenalp or Lauchernalp in the Lötschental, many choose to stay at the Lötschenpaß Hut
LötschentalTake the train to Goppenstein from Brig to the south or from Bern-Spiez-Kandersteg to the north and switch to a bus for Wiler. Here there is a cable car to Lauchernalp. First car is at 8:30 am. Last ride down in the summer is 6:10 pm, otherwise 5:45 pm.
Kummenalp is reached by trail in about 1.5 hours from Ferden, which is a bus stop or in 1 hour from the top of the Lauchernalp cable car.
If coming by private car, you first drive to Goppenstein from Brig or take the car train through the Lötschberg tunnel from Kandersteg. From there you can drive up the Lötschental road and park near the desired trailhead.
It is 1.5 hours from Kummenalp, 2.5 hours from Lauchernalp and 3.5 to 4 hours from Ferden to the Lötschenpass. The trail is very scenic.
GasterentalThe Gasterental lies south of Kandersteg. From the train station in Kandersteg there is a regular bus to the end of the valley (Sunnbüel) from whence you can walk into the Gasteren valley. A private van leaves from the train station and drives up the valley, making about 5 stops along the way. To drive a private car up the narrow road requires a special permit and follows a specific schedule - the traffic is one way with no turnouts. It's also possible to ride a mountain bike up the valley. From Selden, at the end of the valley, a trail leads over Gfelalp towards the Lötschenpass. A remnant glacier, which is wanded and offers no special difficulties, must be traversed just before the pass. (3 to 4 hours) Apparently there is a second, exposed trail that has been in use since the 16th century and has been recently renovated and protected by cable.
The normal route, which is a class 2 scramble with some permanent snow. 1.5 to 2 hours from Lötschenpass. Follow the trail over the broad ridge to the base of Klein Hockenhorn. Traverse to the north (often icy) to the saddle between Klein Hockenhorn and Hockenhorn. (or go around to the south). Continue along the north side of the ridge on trail and easy scrambling to the summit.
Also a cross-country hike and scramble for those coming directly from Kummenalp or Lauchernalp, it connects into the west ridge route in the saddle between Klein Hockenhorn and Hockenhorn. 3.5 to 4 hours.
This route is often used in descent for those not wishing to return to Lötschenpass. We climbed the west ridge and descended this route - much to our regret. It would have been kinder to the knees and probably faster to go back to Lötschenpass and take the trail out.
NOTE! These normal routes cross permanent snow. Ice axes, crampons and a rope may be needed.
The only technical route described in my guidebook (Hochtouren Berner Alpen, Vom Sanetschpass zur Grimsel, by Ueli Mosimann). First climbed by Neuwiler and Schnidrig in 1924.
The ridge is approached by the old trail from Gfelalp towards Sunnbüel in the Gasterental. Once the ridge is reached, climb it (UIAA II and III, YDS 4 to 5.3) until the ridge peters out into the NW flank. Continue over steeper rock by any number of ways to the shoulder below the summit, where it connects into the west ridge route. 5 to 6 hours from Gfelalp (accommodations possible) or 6.5 to 7.5 hours from Selden.
AccommodationsBesides the Lötschenpass Hut, there are numerous places to stay in the Kandersteg and Lötschen valleys.
In high season these areas are popular so reservations are advised. Kandersteg is also the site of the International Scouting Camp
When To Climb
Year around. This is feasible on skis. The Lötschental is a popular ski area. The Lötschental hut, however is not open during winter.
Mountain ConditionsSee Meteo Swiss for current weather, avalanche and other conditions throughout Switzerland.
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