10 years ago I had read about the mountain in one of my favourite books about Swiss Alps: about the enormous altitude difference, that it required a bivouac and that it would be one of the loneliest mountains in Switzerland. Rarely I had read something as wrong as this…
In hot summer 2003 I planned the climb together with a friend from our alpine club. I found out about the little Bristenhuettli hut where I could reserve 2 places that spared us from carrying bivouac gear.
Bristen village Bristenstaeffeli pasture
After 4 h driving from my home town we started at about 10 a.m. at Bristen village. A very steep path crossed the forest area to the open meadows that are already a fine lookout for the Reuss valley and the Vierwaldstaettersee Lake. As mentioned on the main page – yes we also had to sign the guestbook at Bristenstaeffeli pasture and I remember that the owner was very interested in German soccer.
Maderaner Tal valley
Another two hours of a steep path through high forest and meadows awaited us, spiced with nice views to the mountains of the Maderaner Tal valley. At 1868 m we passed Blacki pasture where also private lodging might be possible.
Bristensee lake Bristensee swim
Left of a waterfall we reached the only even plain at this mountain where Bristenhuettli hut and the beautiful Bristensee lake are placed. The ascent was sweaty and this day in the record heat of summer 2003 was hot enough for me as a coward to take a refreshing bath.
the little hut dinner at dusk
The owner of the hut was up there with his wife and some friends. So we could have got a meal but we had carried food for ourselves. They were very friendly but when they talked to each other in their local dialect I could not understand a single word! The afternoon went by relaxing. We had dinner at dusk before the hut and when it was dark we had a fine look down to the Reuss valley from the hill behind the hut. A group of 10 Swiss camped near Bristensee Lake.
lights in the night
Bristen as seen from Bristenhuettli hut the beginning of the ridge morning views
The next day began fine – as expected – and we started the climb with an ascent of the last meadows and some scree to the rocks that lead to the NE ridge, well marked with a huge white painted arrow. At the height of ridge we reached the sun, already hot enough to use short trousers. This long ridge was more difficult that I had expected, some scrambling was necessary and one part before the fore-summit was exposed and I would rate it with UIAA II.
Sometimes there were several possibilities with traverses in the northern flank. For my criterion we were not climbing slowly but some guys had overtaken us so when we reached the summit two dozens already were sitting there. And many more were still coming! Children, seniors – man, are all these Swiss fit. We were the only "aliens". So in the end I counted about 60 climbers on that day, mostly doing a looong daytrip. The views from the mountain were fine but a little hazy.
an easy finish
The descent needed caution, my friend was a little slow so we were almost the last party that left the ridge. We picked up our sleeping luggage at Bristenhuettli and left for the valley. Cumulus clouds had occurred and as we entered the forest a rain shower from a thunderstorm caught us. Getting wet was a rare experience in summer 2003! The steep path down to Bristen is no fun when muddy so we branched off for the plain of Breitlaui, where we could use a private little cablecar down to the Maderanertal valley shortly behind Bristen village. After a meal in the nearest restaurant we drove home, entering a huge traffic jam before Lucerne…
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