Bietschhorn is the outstanding mountain of Lötschental, a northern side valley of the Rhone. It is often climbed by experienced connoisseurs, who strive more for alpinistic and scenic values than for the number 4000. It is certainly not the ideal choice for beginners, nor is it suited for skiers. But the crossing of this mountain is an exceptional treat and will be remembered all life long. Not only an alpinistic treat but gives also an insight of Valais of past centuries with its costumes, wooden homes and an irrigation system, that had been developed centuries ago.
North ridge: 13 August 1859 by L. Stephen with Johann and Anton Siegen and Jos. Ebner
West ridge: 19. August 1867 by E. von Fellenberg, P. Michel, P. Egger, A. und J. Siegen. West ridge.
Bietschorn offers rock and ice.
A wonderful model
was created by Eduard Imhof in a scale of 1:2000
Books and Maps
Clubführer Berner Alpen, Vol. III, Verlag Swiss Alpine Club
No. 1268 Lötschental 1:25000
No. 1288 Raron 1:25000
No. 264 Jungfrau 1:50000
See the Swisstopo Map
with many interesting features. Upload is in a seperate window.
Two main ascents are possible: one from Lötschental in the north, one from the Baltschiedertal in the south. In addition, there is another approach from south well suited for climbing the S-face through the Bietschtal. Crossing the Bietschorn from south to north (or vice versa) is my personal recommendation. All starting points can be reached by train and bus. If you have a car and drive from north, leave it in Kandersteg and use train and bus from there.
Take the train to Goppenstein (1216 m) either from Berne (north) or Brig (south). Then change to the bus for Wiler (1419 m) or Blatten (1540 m) and climb to the Bietschhorn hut (2565 m) in 3.5 hours. All paths are well marked.
Take the train to Ausserberg (931 m) either from Berne (north) or Brig (south). There starts the 7 hour walk to the Baltschiederklause (2783 m).
The Baltschieder valley really starts near Visp, i.e. opposite of the Visper valley that leads to Zermatt and Saas Fee. It is possible to drive your car to the small town of Baltschieder and start there. (Better parking possibility than in Ausserberg). For crossing into the Lötschental (highly recommended) take the train to Ausserberg.
The way from Ausserberg leads along water canals (suon) that carry "holy water" to the farmers' meadows. There are two of them, lower and upper one. Inquire which is better suited due to past avalanches. The narrow paths lead along steep flanks and through tunnels (lamp would be handy). After this historic and scenic lesson you will end in the Baltschieder valley, where the water comes from. There is a third ordinary path way further down below the suonen which is faster.
All paths will lead to Ze Steinu (1287 m). A well marked way leads up to Martischüpfe (1940 m) where a cave was often used as a biwouac for the Stockhorn and SE-ridge climbers before the Stockhornbiwak (2598 m) was built. From Martischüpfe leads a path beyond the Baltschieder river up to an ancient molybdenum mine which was needed during WW II.
Continue the long walk to the hut that belongs to some actual and past students of the University of Berne.
This is the valley for adventurers. There is no hut, usually nobody to see, just some subsidised sheep. Some climbers use it for descending from Bietschjoch (3240 m). Still I describe it going uphill.
Just above the railroad station Ausserberg enter the popular Höhenweg (corniche) that leads from Hohtenn to Lalden (ideal familiy hike above the Rhone valley) that leads west. Within one hour you will reach Eschji (1158m) in the Bietsch valley. This place can also be reached from the Rhone valley (Raron-Rarnerchumma), but as of today (2004) the path is temporarily destroyed. Follow the path to Nassi-Pletscha (1708 m). 4.5 hours. There is a paved cave for ca. 4-6 persons to bivouac.
Continue to the end of the flat part (1900 m) where you have to decide what you want to climb. In order to climb the south face, continue the path to 1999 m, then cross the river and climb along the north side of the west ridge of the Tieregghorn. At 2700 m head to the foot of the Bietschhorn south face.
To reach the Bietschjoch head for the Gletscherhorn and march on the Bietschgletscher to the Bietschjoch.
There are no paths and it is important not to climb in the middle of the valley due to the many creeks.
Most routes are not too difficult in good conditions, but become very difficult in bad weather. Rope, axe, crampons, biners.
1. West ridge
: From Bietschhorn hut (2565 m) climb the Bietschjoch (3166 m). traverse horizontally the Bietschgletscher and reach the west ridge. A long climb starts. Easy in not very solid rock in good weather, difficult when covered with snow. 8 hours from the hut. III.
2. North ridge
Popular route. Starting point is Baltschiederjoch (3204 m) between the Bietschorn hut (4 hours) and the Baltschiederklause (2 hours). From Baltschiederjoch on ice or snow (crampons!) always on the ridge via pt 3706. Not difficult for experienced crampon hikers. 6 hours from Baltschiederjoch. Ideal from Baltschiederklause. IV.
Form north leave the Bietschhornhut towards Schafberg, then descend to cross the Nest- and Birchgletscher and climb via 3154 the Baltschiederjoch.
Better from Bietschhorn hut seems to me
3. North ridge via Bietschjoch
From Bietschjoch reach the ridge east of Kleines Nesthorn and join the north ridge at 3706 m. If snow conditions are good turn at the middle of the Nestgletscher to the right and climb the ice flank to get to the last part of the north ridge. A great short cut in descent to the Bietschhorn hut. Only for experienced ice climbers.
4. East spur and rip of the east face
Start from Baltschiederklause and get to the foot of the Bietschorn. Excellent rock, morning sun. Wonderful experience! IV. 6-8 hours from the hut. I can highly recommend the east spur.
5. South east ridge
Extremely long climb. ca. 15 or more hours from Stockhorn or somewhere in between. V. Starting point is Stockhorn bivouac (2783m).
6. South face
Rarely climbed. Starting point is pt. 3040. Very difficult, bivouac in the Bietschtal. 15 hours.
Accommodation1. Bietschhorn hut (2565 m)
25 beds. Food and drinks in July and August. Well marked way from Wiler or Blatten or Ried (bus) in 3.5 hours.
2. Baltschiederklause (2783 m)
76 beds. Food, drinks and electric current from July to September. From Ausserberg along the ancient water canals along exposed flanks and tunnels to the path of the hut in the Baltschieder valley. 7 hours.
Info and Rescue
Summer. No ski mountain!
For books, maps, webcams, trains, buses, weather, avalanches, rescue
see my list Swiss Links
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- UNESCO World Heritage List
The area of Jungfrau, Aletsch and Bietschhorn belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Interesting site in German language.
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