A note from the SP staff
Stefan Weber, the member we all used to know from his climbing pseudonym kletterwebbi, died on May 28th 2004 in southern France at the age of 37.
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.
This page will be kept in honor of kletterwebbi, one of SP's most talented, knowledgeable members, and without a doubt, one of our greatest fellow mountaineers.
The picture was taken on the summit ridge of Lyskamm.
The Altman is the third heighest summit of the beautiful Alpstein-region, which was titeld" das schönste Gebirge der Erde ... " (the most beautiful mountains of the world) by swiss geologist Arnold Heim at the beginning of the 20th century. This may be a litte exaggerated but in fact this is a very (!) beautiful part of the Switzerland. The Altman is a steep lymestone tower, which rises about 1000m over the surrounding valleys and dominates (together with the Säntis) the panorama of the whole group.The easyest route is from Rotsteinpass over the "via ferrata" with some easy climbing (UIAA 1). When seen from Lake Constance, the Altmann is the high peak left of the Säntis, both dominating the landscape far into Southern Germany. Reachable for climbers and experianced hikers the summit is very popular and as a result of this even crowded, especially at the weekends.
The Alpstein-range is situated at the NE corner of the Swiss near by the borders of Germany and Austria. It's the last (or first) part of central alps. The whole Alpstein range is built by three main, parallel chains (south, middle and north), all of them running from SW to NE. The Altman is the central summit of the middle chain, therefore the summit is the center of the whole Alpstein. He is connected by the Lisengrat (a famous and very beautiful hike) to the highest summit of the Alpstein, the Säntis (2503 m). NW of the Altman there is the Rotsteinpass (2120 m) with the Rotsteinpass-hut and the Altmannsattel (Altmann saddle). SE of it there is the Zwinglipass (2106 m) with the Zwinglipass-hut. NE of the Altman the Alpsteins middle chain consists of the summits of the Fälentürme, Freiheit, Hundstein and Widderalpstöcke. SW of the Altman the prominent summits of Moor and Wildhuser Schafberg can be found as a part of the middle chain. All of those summits are famous climbing spots with a lot of popular routes.
The Altman himself consists of a big S-face and a somewhat smaller N-face with the regular route above the Altmannsattel. Those two faces are connected by a W-ridge and a E-ridge. All sides of the Altmann are offering excellent routes with all possible difficulties. The main attention of the modern climbers is caught by the S-face with its great limestone slabs.
As told by a legend the name of the mountain (Altmann = "Old Man") comes from the grey color of its limestone with is surrounded by snow until summer like an old mans face is surrounded by his white beard.
As part of the middle chain the best place for approching the Altmann are the Schwägalp, Wasserauen or Wildhaus. From one of those one have to reach the Rotsteinpass or the Zwinglipass as described below. All of those town can be reached by the superb swiss public transport.
Wildhaus: There are different possibilities, here some of them:
Take the A1 from Zürich to St. Gallen, at the exit Wil following the road to Wattwil will bring one finally into the Toggenburg valley and to Wildhaus. An other possibilitie is to take the A3 from Zürich to Chur, take the exit Rapperswil and follow the road to Wattwil. From Wattwill go on to Wildhaus. Or take the A3 from Chur (e.g comming from Italy) to Zürich. At the crossing A3/A13 at Sargans following the A13 direction St. Gallen. Take the exit Buchs and followinf the road to Wildhaus.
Wildhaus is trailhead for the trail to the Rotsteinpass via Alp Thurwies, Schafboden and Zwinglipass. The trail is marked, one will need about 4 hours.
Schwägalp: This is the base of the cable to the Säntis summit. One can reach the Schwägalp via the A1 from Zürich to St. Gallen, unsing the exit Herisau. From Herisau drive to Urnäsch and then to the Schwägalp (big parkinh area). It's also possible to reach the Schwägalp from Wildhaus. From Wildhaus following the B16 direction Wattwil until one reached Neu St. Johann. There the road to the Schwägalp bends right (NE).
To reach the Altmann from the Schwägalp one have to go to the Säntis summit. This can be done by feet (3 h from Schwägalp)
or using the cable. From the summit of the Säntis one have to traverse the whole Lisengrat (via ferrata, 2.5 hours to the
Altmann saddle, 2 hours to the Rotsteinpass).
Wasserauen: Wasserauen is a very small village NE of the Alpstein, it's the base of the cable to the Eben Alp. To reach Wasserauen travel to the town of Appenzell. From there a small road leads to Wasserauen. One will reach Appenzell using the A1 from Zürich to St. Gallen. At the exit Gossau follow the road to Appenzell (signed, need some attention).
From Wasserauen a marked trail heads to the Rotsteinpass via the Seealpsee (5 hours).
No red tape. Some areas of the Alpstein are used by the swiss army as a training area for shooting. The area around the Altmann is not touched by this but if one is finding a blind shell: do not touch it, mark the place and tell it the swiss police (phone 111).
When To Climb
Best time to climb is summer and autumn (June to late October) Earlier climbing could risk a lot of snow, as the Alpstein region is one of Switzerlands most snowy region. Because of sthe steep gras, snow is causing lots of trouble or makes the climbing just impossible.
Ever try to stand on top at a clear october-day, when the fantastic panorama reaches from the austrian Silvretta to Bernina, Disgrazia, Glarner Alpen, Berner Alpen to the Blümlisalpgruppe and down to Lake Constance.
Camping & Huts
The routes of the Altmann can be done as day trips. But there are several huts at the Alpstein which can be used. The closest hut is the Rotsteinpass-Hütte at the Rotsteinpass (see the "Getting There" section for the approach).
Camping is forbidden at the whole Alpstein area. There are campsites at Appenzell, Alt St. Johann and Wildhaus.
As common for the switzerland, a good place for mountain conditions is the Meteo Schweiz website.Type in "Appenzell" as name for the city to get the weather forecast for the Appenzell area.
See also the "links" section for additional links.
There are about 20 different routes at the Altmann, here descriptions of some of them:
N flank: this is the regular route, easy but very slippery and often very crowded. The route is marked with red signs and there are some metal poles. It is starting at the Altmann saddle which can be reached from the Rotsteinpass via a well marked path. The route is rated UIAA 1, it may take about 1/2 to 1 hour from the Altmann saddle to the summit. E ridge: UIAA 3+, good, classical ridge. First ascent by Richard Güttler and Emil Oppe (1907). Schaffhauser Kamin: UIAA 2, a often done easy climb at the S-face. This route was included in the famous "Im leichten Fels" by Walter Pause. First ascent by Feurer and Stocker (1890). Südkamin: UIAA 2, a nice, easy and impressive climb at the S-face, also included in the famous "Im leichten Fels" by Walter Pause. It's unknown who has done the first ascent. Schnodernasenweg: UIAA 7, this is one of the modern sport climbs at the S-face, 6 pitches, no bolts in place. First ascent by Ruedi Abderhalden, Peter Diener and Thomas Utelli in 1983. Via Hacky Sack: UIAA 8-, a difficult, partly bolted variant of the "Schnodernasenweg". First ascent by Ruedi Abderhalden, Markus Büchhler and Peter Diener in 1985. Alte Südwand: UIAA 6, a very good, classical route at the S-face. First ascent by Georg Breitenmoser and Karl Bruggmann (1966). Linke Südwand: UIAA 6-, an other S-face route without bolts. First ascent by Ruedi Brunner, Werner Dietschweiler and Peter Scherrer (1979). Allegro ma non troppo: UIAA 8-, may be the most difficult route fo the Altmann, 5 pitches. First ascent by Christof and markus Meier (1987). W-ridge: UIAA 5- (or 4+/A0), a very popular and even very good route using the prominent W-ridge. First ascent by Wilhelm Knoblich and Otto Ritz (1919). NW-buttress: UIAA 6+ (6-/A0), this is a good route of the famous Max Niedermann. First ascent by Max Niedermann and Paul Zoller (1953). Ranzäpfiffä: UIAA 7-, a modern 3 pitch route at the NW side with big runouts. First ascent by Andreas Fröhlich and Hannes Schmutz (1988).
Guidebook & Map
Kletterführer Alpstein (german or french version possible) from Werner Küng, Verlag Schweizer Alpen-Club SAC, ISBN-No. 3-85902-199-0
LK der Schweiz Blatt 1114 (Nesslau) and Blatt 1115 (Säntis)
Fröhlich, Huber, Looser, July 1825 (!)
The Alpstein is home of a growing population of capricorns. Those animals where close to dying out and where exposed some years ago at the Alpstein. Meanwhile there are different flocks of them at the Alpstein. And one of those flocks can often be seen near the Altmann saddle. The capricorns are accustomed to the many people at the area but they are still no pets.
Säntis Cable Homepage of the cable to the Säntis with a livecam.