Bishorn 4153 m, belonging to the Weisshorn Group and located in the Wallis, Switzerland, is one of the Northernmost Fourthousander of the Alps, located just North of the Weisshorn. The mountain has two distinct summits, separated by a 600 meter long snow ridge: the Western summit is the highest, while the Eastern one at 4134 m is lower and named Pointe Burnaby.
It's a relatively easy 4000, but it has one of the most beautiful panorama in the whole Alps, although it stands in the shadow of the majestic Weisshorn. In addition, Bishorn is reputed to offer one of the finest ski-mountaineering routes on a 4000m-summit in the Alps. Because of the ski-mountaineering, Bishorn gets a first climbing season in Spring and a second one in summertime.
Reassuming, Bishorn is an often visited 4000m-peak located on the extreme end of the North spur of the Weisshorn.Check here the complete list of the 82 alpine Fourthousanders and the 46 minor summits: Club4000. Bishorn has 2 summits:
- W-summit 4153 m (snow)
- E-summit 4135 m (rock)
There are different reasons for its popularity:
1. The magical limit of 4000 m. 2. The short and unproblematic ascent on the glacier from the highly located Tracuithütte. 3. The wonderful view, especially to the Weisshorn-N-rigde.
Bishorn has one of the finest panorama in the whole Alps. Not only you get a close rare view of the magic Weisshorn from up, you can also see almost all 4000ers of the Alps. In the picture full view you can read the names.
The only flaw is that from a long distanced viewed, Bishorn seems to be more the end of this ridge than a summit on its own. In spring, you can almost reach the highest point with ski. Bishorn is mostly traversed by the mountaineers who climb the Weisshorn-N-ridge. Not many people climb the Bishorn on other routes besides the NW-flank. Only a few people climb the NE-face or the E-ridge.
For the Routes compare the section Routes-Overview below.
The first ascent was done by G. S. Barnes, R. Chessyre-Walker, Joseph Imboden and J. M. Chanton on 18th of August 1884.
Some days before - on the 6th August - the English mountaineer Elizabeth Fred Burnaby had climbed for the first time, with the guides Joseph Imboden and Peter Sarbach via the E-ridge the current Point Burnaby, the 4135 m high secondary summit which lies 600 m to the NE of the main summit. It's not clear, whether they reached the main summit or not, although Joseph Imboden was also a member of the official first ascent team of the main summit.
But anyway, this first ascent of a 4000m summit by Elizabeth Fred Burnaby is one of the very first ascents of 4000s done by a woman. Other examples are: Pointe Eveline (Aiguille du Jardin) and Pointe Croz (Grandes Jorasses). As very convinced advocate of women-alpinism, she founded the "Ladies Alpine Club" in London in 1907 and was the President of this Club. She wrote the first book about winter mountaineering: "The High Alps in Winter". Between 1882 and 1896, she climbed successfully 113 high alpine tours.
There are two possibilities to approach Bishorn: Zinal Valley and Turtmann Valley. Zinal can be reached by car or bus starting at Sierre/Siders. The main valley of Zinal is called Val d'Anniviers. Sierre (533 m) is located in the Rhone valley. From the Turtmann valley the ascent is longer, there are no bus, only cable car to Oberems (1341 m). By car or taxi you can drive to Sennturm (1901 m). Since the end of the paved road (reached by car in late spring) continue on foot, passing the bridge, along the dirt road to the dam. Cross it, pass by the small reservoir and continue along a small moraine valley leading below the steep cliff on which it stands the Turtmannhütte. If you have a bicycle with you, there is a paved road to the lake (2174 m) below the Turtmann hut. From there 1 hour to the hut.
- From west via Cabane de Tacuit (3256 m): from Zinal you reach the hut (1678m, Val d'Anniviers) in 3,5 h (1580m) directly. This is the shortest ascent. From the soutern end of Zinal (sign), you go on a very good and marked way via Dobert (possibly by car) to Le Chiesso (2061m). You climb over the steep step below Combautanna with a S-traverse. From here (2578m, 2,5 h), you go up on a way below the Diablon up to the Col de Tracuit (3250m). A few minutes to the hut. This can also be a ski route, if there is little snow and no danger of avalanches.
Or nicer and winter route:
- Follow the Naviscence river to Le Vichiesso (car parking possible) . Follow the path to the Cabane d'Ar Pitetta to Le Vichiesso (1826 m). A little above is a small lake (take a short swim!) and keep north in direction of the Roc de la Vache. After the saddle descend and reach the normal way below Combautanna. 4 hours. With skis: head directly to the hut and stay mainly in the valley.
- From the Turtmannhütte you reach the hut in 3,5 h (I, passage), 800 hm. From the hut, you follow the clear way up in SE-direction to the S-end of the Barrwand. You climb through an outstanding couloir (Gässi), on the orographically left side. You reach the moraines above. You have a view to the creavasses and can think about the way. You go straight on to the Schöllijoch. Then you go to the right and the moraine slightly down in order to reach the Bruneggglacier via a slippery rock passage on 2650 m. You traverse the glacier with SW-direction and enter a rockisle (Adlerflue) at about 2800m. You follow the track to the rock band and up to P. 2913 m. Afterwards, you go down on the western side of the Brunegglacier and traverse it to the Turtmannglacier at 2800m. You go below the flank of the Ciablon to the Tracuithut. This is also the ski-route.
- From the Ar-Pitetta-hut you reach the Tracuithut via the Col de Milon (2990m) in 3 h (750 hm ascent). It is partly without any way. From the Ar-Pitetta-hut, you traverse the grass hangs and moraines to the moraine which comes down from the Col de Milon to the S. Over this moraine, you go in 40 min. to the Col and afterwards over lumps of rocks and snow rests northern till 2700m down (Combautanna). Now via the hangs to the direct ascent from Zinal (see above). You meet it at P. 2931m.
- From east via Turtmann Hut (2519m)
The Turtmann valley starts at Turtmann (rail station), a small town between Visp and Sierre. At Turtmann (628 m) you would not expect that there is a valley way above. A steep road and a cable car lead to Oberems (1341 m), from you where you realize that there is a wonderful valley with green meadows. It is much shorter than the neighbour valleys Mattertal and Val d'Anniviers. The inhabitants speak German, but only in summer, in winter the homes of Gruben (1822 m) are left empty due to danger of avalanches.
Before 1950 the only way to get up there was by foot or mule. The cattle you see in the summer belongs mostly to farmers living farther down. The 800 cows graze on the left side of the river, the calves on the right side. On Blumatt is a cheese factory (5 tons per year) where you can taste and buy this local product. When you reach Sänntum (1901 m) by car or taxi and are not in a hurry, be sure to take the wonderful path via Holustei (2222 m) to the Turtmann hut (2519 m). 2 hours.
1. NW-Flank Normal route from Cabane de Tracuit (Normal and ski route)
From the Cabane de Tracuit and reach the beginning of the Turtmanngletscher, very close to the hut. Cross it mainly horizzontaly and head to a snowy saddle between a rocky ridge descending from the summit and the broad snow slopes 35 degrees steep on the right. Climb directly the snow slope to the saddle between Pointe Burnaby on the left and Bishorn to the right. After overcoming the summit bergschrund in a few minutes on the summit. Alpine F, 2.5 hours. Difference in level: 900 m
2. NW-Flank Normal route from Turtmannhütte (Normal and ski route)
From the Turtmannhütte with a flat cross reach the base of the "Barrloch" gully. Climb it and at the exit continue towards SE along small valleys and gentle angled slopes to find the point where you can climb easily the Brunegg Glacier. Cross this glacier at first heading W and then NW. Downclimb about 200 m in height difference on gentle angled terrain, passing at the base of the rocky spur of the Stierberg. Once on the flat ice shelf interrupting the big seracs of Turtmann Glacier (at about 2800 m) follow it diagonally upward below the seracs, to reach the left bank of the glacier itself. Climb up along this medium steep side, crossed by some insidious crevasses. When the glacier becomes flat you see the Cabane de Tracuit hut. You can reach the hut (not mandatory, but safer) by a wide circle from right to left. From the Cabane de Tracuit follow the previous itinerary to get the summit of Bishorn.
3. SSW-ridge to the Weisshornjoch: G 2, 100 hm, 1/4 h. This saddle (4058 m) is the start of the north ridge of the Weisshorn climbers. - PD, I+, 3 h from the Tracuithut, 900 hm
4. E-ridge from the Bisjoch: II (passages), G 5, 650 Hm, 3 h - AD-, II and I, mixed, from Turtmannhütte via Bisjoch, 3528m, and the Pointe Burnaby, 6,5 h (totally), 1700 hm - 47°, seracs 70° and more, 650 hm, 4-6 h - S, IV, 8 h
5. NE-face Starting point NW of Bisjoch. Dangerous ice wall, up to 70°. To be climbed only after a detailed preview. Ca. 6 hours.
Descent: the easy route is the NW Flank Normal route
No fees no permits required.
Cabane de Tracuit 3256 m S.A.C. Sect. Chaussy
Hut Phone: 0041-027-4751500
Situation: SE to Col de Tracuit, near Turtmanngletscher
Owner: S.A.C. Sect. Chaussy
Open: from March to September
Size: 120 persons Winter shelter: 15 persons
Guardian: Anne-Lise Bourgeois, Pralonzet 3961 Zinal
Turtmannhütte 2519 m - S.A.C.
Hut Phone: 0041-027-9321458
Situation: on a rockspur above the North side of Turtmanngletscher
Owner: S.A.C. Sect.Prévôtoise
Open: from March to the end of May and from end of June to middle September
Size: 50 persons Winter shelter: yes
Guardian: Magdalena and Fredy Tscherrig
Other accomodation: Camping in Zinal
Mountaineering: from middle June to middle September
Ski-Mountaneering: from March to May
"Il grande libro dei 4000" by Marco Romelli, Valentino Cividini - Idea Montagna Editore, 2015
“Tutti i 4000” – L’aria sottile dell’alta quota” – CLUB 4000 CAI TORINO – Vivalda Editori
“The 4000 of the Alps” by Richard Goedeke (CAAI) – All the normal routes to the 4000m. summits of the Alps – Libris Edition
“I Quattromila delle Alpi” by Karl Blodig and Helmut Dumler – Zanichelli Ed.
"Clubführer Walliser Alpen", Vol. II, Verlag Swiss Alpine Club
"Ski alpin, alpes valaisannes", Vol. 3, éditions du Club Alpin Suisse
1:25000 no. 1327 Evolène
1:25000 no. 1328 Randa
1:25000 no. 1308 St. Niklaus
1:50000 no. 5006 Matterhorn-Mischabel
1:50000 no. 283S Arolla