OverviewThe Ofenhorn (Swiss name) or Punta d'Arbola (Italian name) is the mountain at the north-east end of the Binn-Tal above Brig in the Lepontine Alps. It is located on the Italian / Swiss border and is a landmark of the Binntal (in Switzerland) which is famous for its minerals.
The mountain has four main ridges (SSW, W, NW, SE) with two glaciers on its sides : on the NE-side the Hohsandgletscher (Ghiacciaio del Sabbione) that once had its snout into the Lago del Sabbione and on the W-flank the small Tälligletscher
The mountain is climbed in summer but the main interest is in spring for ski-mountaneering .
Views from the North (Swiss side)
Views from the South (Italian side)
Views from Ofenhorn / Punta d'Arbola
Getting ThereThree different routes of access to the area :
From Switzerland Valais
To get to the Ofenhorn you have to travel to Brig in the Rhone-valley. From there follow the N19 in the direction of Furkapass to the small village of Fiesch. About 2 kilometers before Fiesch a small, narrow route leads at first to the famous village Ernen (some very, very old buildings) and then to Binn (1400 m).
From Binn follow the route to Fäld (1519 m) where you finally have to park your car.
Binn is also easily reachable by public transportation - train to Fiesch, bus to Binn, and then a taxi (see blow for details) as far as possible.
There is a taxi service from Binn that will take one to a point that is just 1.5 hours from the huts. This is further than one can drive with their own car and well worthwhile. The taxi can be contacted through the Tourist Office in Binn. In 2003, the charge was 60 CHF for the trip regardless of the number of passengers and he can take up to 10 people. One can call from the hut to have him pick you up on the way down.
From Italy Val Formazza
Along the Simplon highway till Preglia - than follow for Crodo - Formazza - cascate del Toce (wonderful site) and on to Riale. (the road is normally open only till Riale in spring)
Along this route there are two different points to start toward the Refuges :
From here you can reach,
From Italy alpe Devero
Along the Sempione highway to Crodo, then Baceno and Goglio.
Once there was a lift from Goglio to Alpe Devero, now it takes 1 hour of comfortable walking along a mule track.
One can climb the Punta d'Arbola starting from Alpe Devero, along the path to Lago Devero and Scatta Minoia.
RoutesAll routes on the mountain require some experience and training, wherever you come from a 3-4 hour ascent is the standard.
Regular Route(S flank, L, 2-3 hours from Binntalhütte to the summit):
From the hut ascent the Eggerscharte (2864 m) using the path (cairns) following the gully of the Eggerofe.
From the Eggerscharte:
A: go up the steep snow fields (direction NE) up to the Ofenjoch (3030 m) and from there follow the SE ridge to the summit.
B: reach the Ofenhorn summit from the Eggerscharte more direct using the steep snowfields of the S-flank.
Sometime a little danger of rock fall, especially if there are much people.
This is also the common descent route.
Other Routes :
SSW-ridge (Cresta d'Arbola) : WS, 3 hours, basic rock climbing (UIAA grade 2)
W-ridge : WS, 4 hours
NW-couloir : WS, 3 hours, not recommended
NW-ridge : WS, 4 hours
E-flank : L, 5 hours, classical route
SE-ridge : WS, 4 hours, basic rock climbing, some snow hiking
the last three can be as well be climbed starting from Italian refuges
Refuges and CampingSwiss side
From Binn, follow the route along the north side of the small river Binna up to the Freiche by foot. There a marked path leads to the Binntalhütte which is the common starting point to climb the Ofenhorn. Take about 3 hours to hike from Fäld.
The Binntal is a nature reserve, so camping is only allowed at the campground in Binn (simple, cheap, but very nice).
In Binn itself there are several hotels.
Website of the campground: www.camping-giessen.ch
Italian side val Formazza
Best for ski-mountaneering
In late spring (when road is open) and summer many possibilities (wide spaces) for free camping near the Diga of Morasco (Campers and Motorhomes are a normal view here)
Italian side Alpe Devero
No camping allowed
Best base if Capanna Enrico Castiglioni all’Alpe Devero (1640 m)
(once was Rifugio Gallarate)
When To ClimbFor hiking and climbing the best months are June, July and September (sometimes October); in August the microclimate (big lakes and glaciers) often cause foggy days and poor weather.
Ofenhorn / Punta d'Arbola is quite popular in winter by ski or snowshoe. The easier route goes from the Mittlenbäghütte to Hohsandpass. Harder is the route from Binntalhütte to Eggerscharte (P. 2874).
Another possibility for a winter ascent starts at the Rif: Vannino - Val Formazza (Italy) offering the possibility to make a safe and wonderful ski-mountaineering to this summit.
Red TapeNo permits or fees are required.
The whole Binntal is a nature reserve, act accordingly to that fact.
Mountain ConditionsFor weather forecast: Go to the Meteo Schweiz (www.meteoschweiz.ch) and there to the link "lokal" and type in "Binn" for the location.
Enel meteo - Enel is the company that manages the dams of Val Formazza.
MapsCN Svizzera 1:50.000-265T"Nufenenpass"-275"Valle Antigorio"
CN Svizzera 1:25.000-1270"Binntal"-1271"Basodino"- 1290"Helsenhorn" -1291 "BoscoGurin"
GC di Torino 1:50.000-11 "Domodossola e Val Formazza"
- Binntal Touristik
Tourist informations of the Binntal
- Minerals at the Binntal
Informations about the famous "Valley of Minerals"
- Camping Giessen / Binntal
The Homepage of the Binntal campground.
- Ofenhorn trip report (sorry, german only)
A better alternative to the Binntalhütte.
In Memory of Stefan "kletterwebbi" WeberThis page was originated by Stefan.
Stefan Weber, the member we all used to know from his climbing pseudonym kletterwebbi, died on May 28th 2004 in southern France.
Stefan joined SP early on in 2002 and contributed a number of excellent pages and routes to this site. He was an accomplished climber excelling in difficult alpine and technical routes. The Dolomites, especially the area around Gröden / Val Gardena were special to him, as it was his old ancestral home.
kletterwebbi was always willing to share his knowledge and experience with other climbers, mainly here on SP, but also on other sites. He contributed his IT expertise as webmaster of his local section of the German Alpine Club, where he also engaged in leading trips for fellow members. Besides his climbing and mountaineering activities he was a musician, a composer of contemporary music. Stefan will be greatly missed by us all.
Stefan's SP page