Use the Lötschental approach as described on the Hockenhorn Main Page:
take the train to Goppenstein then the bus to Wiler. A gondola and a two chair lifts take you from here to Gandegg, 2717 meters (8914 feet).
The start and end points of this route are not the same so it's best to use public transportation. Optionally, if you arrive from the north by car, you can leave it at the station in Kandersteg and take the train to Goppenstein from there.
Make sure to catch the first bus and gondola in the morning as you will need a full day to complete this route!
Consult the SBB website for timetables and prices from any train station in Switzerland to Wiler.
Also check the BLS for possible round trip tickets.
Find the most up to date Wiler-Gandegg time table and prices on the
Lötschental web site.
From Gandegg it is just under 600 meters (~1900 feet) elevation gain to the summit of Hockenhorn. Ascend to the saddle between Klein Hockenhorn and Hockenhorn where it joins the West Ridge route as described on the
Hockenhorn Main Page. Take your skis as far as possible then leave them behind for the class 2 scramble to the summit of Hockenhorn. Approx. 2 hours from Gandegg.
Even though the views from the summit are breathtaking, don't allow yourself too long of a break as there is still a lot of distance to cover. Return to your skis and start the first short descent along the West Ridge Route, past the Klein Hockenhorn to Lötschenpass as depicted in this photo. This should only be done with stable snow conditions as the section below the Klein Hockenhorn is steep. Check with the Snow and Avalanche Information of the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research. Besides the national bulletin, the ones for the Bernese Oberland and Eastern part of Valais regions are of particular interest for this route. Approx. 45 minutes from Hockenhorn.
At the Lötschenpass hut (2690 meters/8825 feet) prepare for another short ascend to Gitzifurgge (sometimes also called Gitzifurggu), 2912 meters (9553 feet). Allow 45 minutes or so for an unhurried ascend from the Lötschenpass. The views of the gigantig Balmhorn east face are impressive.
This photo on Jürgen Brenneis' page provides a nice view of the route from Gandegg to Gitzifurgge.
The next section is what you've been looking forward to: a 1510 meters (4954 feet) ski descend below the Balmhorn south face (also skiable!) over generous slopes to Leukerbad, 1402 meters (4600 feet). For the last 100 or so meters you will follow the slopes of the Leukerbad Ski Ressort to the bottom of the Feuillerette chair lift.
The trail map of the Leukerbad Ski Ressort shows the whole descent from Gitzifurgge to Leukerbad as well as the onward route as described below.
Leukerbad is known for its hot springs and is a great place to spend the night if you've planned two days to complete this route. If not, hurry over to the other end of the village, where a gondola takes you to Gemmipass, 2350 meters (7710 feet). (find timetable and prices here).
The Berghotel Wildstrubel is the starting point for other great summer and winter ascents to Daubenhorn and Wildstrubel. However, the route described here follows the crosscountry ski tracks on the Daubensee, first flat and exhausting then, beyond the lake, steeper again past the Hotel Schwarenbach. The Hotel Schwarenbach is the starting point for climbs to Balmhorn, Altels and Rinderhorn.
After you've reached yet another plain below the Hotel Schwarenbach, there is two options:
- if there is enough snow all the way the to Kandersteg (1'200 meters/3937 feet), you can ski another 700 meters (2297 feet), through the trees on the steep and mostly narrow ski piste. Check with the guys at the Sunnbüel gondola for conditions.
- if there is not enough snow - and this is what you've been hurrying for all day - you must catch the last ride with the Sunnbüel gondola. Check their website for an up to date timetable. Take into account that there is a short ascent of about 100 meters or so to the gondola station.
Catch the bus from the base terminal of the Sunnbüel gondola back to the train station in Kandersteg.
Avy gear and all the usual stuff for ski mountaineering. Crampons and ice axe are not necessary.
- LK 1:50000 Blatt 264 S, Jungfrau
- LK 1:50000 Blatt 263 S, Wildstrubel
- Anker Daniel/Schnegg Ralph: Skitouren Berner Oberland Ost (Hockenhorn, Gitzifurgge)
If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.