OverviewThere are 3 Windgaellen: Grosse, Kleine and Schaechentaler. I am describing mainly the big one: Grosse Windgälle. It is located next to its small brother: Kleine Windgaelle. The Schaechentaler Windgaelle is not our present topic and is found near the Klausenpass road. Actually I climb the lower one almost every year, since it is very practical to take the car early morning and climb it and be back home in the afternoon. This can hardly be done with the big one. That is why there is a hut owned by the Academic Alpine Club of Zurich which is open to everybody.
Most trips start at this hut.
1. The normal way (east face) would be easy, if it did not have a bergschrund. So go early summer. We chose February as you can see from the photos.
2. Good but not too difficult climbing offers the south-east wall
3. South wall is difficult (VI)
4. West ridge is very long (IV) with excellent scenery.
5. NE-ridge (III) is ideal, if you do not want to spend all morning with the bergschrund.
6. North face (1000 m high). If you want to climb a big wall without too much difficulty (IV), this is it. Choose early summer, when the couloirs still have snow instead of ice. Stay over night at Seewli, at a farmer or outside on the meadow next to a nice lake.
If you have time, it is worth while to climb both Windgaellen.
The Windgaellen with its lime stone and excellent view are quite popular within Switzerland, but unknown to most foreigners, because Bristen at its foot is just a modest, nice hamlet and has no touristic marketing manager. Yet, the climb changes its view every half hour and never gets boring. Even if you do not reach the top, you will remember the wonderful Maderaner valley, the Golzeren lake (yes you can swim there), the view on the Bristenstock, Oberalpstock and many other good looking mountains. Many flowers and sheep will greet you on the way.
Link for books and maps:
Literature and Maps
Clubführer Urner Alpen Ost, Verlag Swiss Alpine Club
Map Nr. 1192 Schächental 1:25'000
Map Nr. 1232 Oberalppass 1:25'000
See the Swisstopo Map with many interesting features. Upload is in a seperate window.
Getting ThereThe foot of to the Windgaellen can be reached by the Gotthard autobahn Basle - Lucerne - Milan. Leave the road at Amsteg, before it starts the climb to the Gotthard tunnel. Then take the mountain road to Bristen (hotels, shops, camping) and continue into the Maderaner valley and park at the cable car station (832 m). This place can also be reached by bus. Nearby is a ruin of a furnace, where iron was produced the late middle age to 1753. The iron ore was carried down from 2400 m (Eisengrueben on the way to the Kleine Windgaellen) by mules.
Take the cable car to Golzeren (ca. 1350 m). From here walk towards the lake and turn left up to Windgaellen hut (2032 m). Kleine Windgaellen can be climbed from Golzeren (first cable car at 6.00 a.m.) in one day or from Windgaellen hut.
The normal route starts at the Windgaellen hut, leading to points 2083, 2217 and 2293. Step on the snow of the Stäfelifirn, head to the wall of Höhlenstock and keep below the Stäfelistock to the Bergschrund below the couloir that leads to the summit. Bergschrund can mean climbing grade IV if there is no snow left. Then follow the couloir to the top. 4 hours.
AccomodationWindgällen hut 2032 m, 48 sleeping places
Information: ++41 41 883 17 48
Phone at hut (June to October): ++41 41 885 10 88
To be reached from Golzeren (cable car) in 2 hours.
Camping behind Bristen