Finsteraarhorn is the highest mountain in the Bernese Oberland, id. north of the Rhone valley. It is hidden behind the
Jungfrau trilogy, but due its height it can be seen from most mountains 100 miles away. There is a huge variety of climbing
this mountain, I am concentrating on the normal route from the Finsteraarhorn hut. Other routes take longer: 12 - 15 hours.
The first ascent goes back to 1829, August 10th and - surprisingly - was not accomplished by English mountaineers but by a
Swiss scientist named J.J. Hugi, accompanied by two local guides, who gave the name to last saddle one hour below the
You might say that the normal route is easy, although rope, ax and crampons are a must. But in bad weather, you will be
exposed to avalanches and to a layer of ice on the rocks. Moreover the Finsteraarhorn hut is far away from civilization and
bad weather may become a trap that makes it difficult to escape. But if you hit a week of sunshine, Finsteraarhorn will stay in
your memory as pure pleasure.
Berner Alpen, Vol. IV, edited by the Bernese section of the Swiss Alpine Club.
Map Nr. 5004 Berner Oberland 1:50'000
Map Nr. 244 Ski Jungfrau 1:50'000
Map. Nr. 1249 Finsteraarhorn 1:25'000
See the Swisstopo Map with many interesting features. Upload is in a seperate window.
Getting To The Top
From the Finsteraarhorn hut ( 3048 m) climb the steep slope behind the hut (hard snow in the morning). At 3616 m turn left
and cross the rocky ridge that comes down from the summit. This place is called Frühstücksplatz (breakfast place). On the
other side of ridge keep in the middle of the funnel that leads up the Hugisattel (4094 m), this is the saddle next to the
summit. Hard snow or ice, but few and harmless crevasses.
From Hugisattel on easy rock to the summit, first on the west side, then keep always on the ridge. Climb with crampons on.
Leave the skis at Hugisattel.
One of the problem of getting to the Finsteraarhorn, is to get to the hut, which is needed to climb the normal route. There
are 3 ways to get there.
Normally a hut is reached from the nearest place down in the valley. This is the lovely town of Fiesch and the hut is built 80
m above the Fieschergletscher, so the water flows down its natural course south to Fiesch. Although it is possible to reach the
hut from Fiesch (railroad) in 10 hours, I do not recommend it because of the extremely nasty crevasses.
This is recommended if you have a car and skis and want to do something special. This is my favorite route, very few people
around, but you should know something about how glaciers are built in order to avoid to step on hidden crevasses.
Drive to Grimsel pass and to the Oberaarsee Dam( 2338 m). Excellent and price worthy restaurant with dorm, also rooms.
Inquire whether the road is open (surely after July 25th). Walk along the lake, then reach the Oberaargletscher and climb to
Oberaarjoch 3223 m (there is the Oberaarjoch hut), cross the Studengletscher to Gemslücke 3342. Now steep down, keep
above the Fieschergletscher and head to the Finsteraarhorn hut. 6 hours.
If you do it the reverse way by skI: ski down from Finsteraarhorn hut on the glacier to Rotloch 2843m, turn left and climb the
Oberaarjoch 3223 m. Or head for the Galmilücke 3386 m and reach Münster (railroad). Very recommended for skiers. Keep
in mind, that this way back takes place after having climbed the Finsteraarhorn! If you are not very fit, then better stay
another night in the Finsteraarhorn hut.
This is the normal route and the way up the Jungfraujoch (3475 m) by rail is well described under index "Mönch" and
"Jungfrau". From there go south on the Aletschgletscher (Europe's largest glacier) to the Konkordiaplatz (2750 m),
Sometimes you see here as many people as on the Place de la Concorde. Leave the Konkordia hut to your right and climb
left to the Grünhornlücke ( 3286 m), cross the Fiescher Glacier (3000 m) and walk up to the Finsteraarhorn hut. Many tracks,
so it should be easy to find. 4 hours, with skis 1 hour less.
Once you are in the Finsteraarhorn hut, I recommend to climb the Fiescherhorn (4049 m) and the Wannenhorn (3905m). If
the weather is not safe, try the small Weissnollen. All excellent ski mountains. In high season (Easter to August) the guardian
of the hut serves food and drinks.
For books, maps, webcams, trains, buses, weather, avalanches, rescue see my list Swiss Links in a new window.
When To Climb
Ski: Easter to end of July. If you start from Grimsel, choose the last week of July, after normal winters, the snow is ok. Carry the skis only half an hour from Oberaar dam (free car park) to the glacier at the beginning of the lake. You can also start in June and leave the car on the Grimsel pass road and walk to Oberaar. If you have time climb the Siedelhorn from Grimsel pass and ski down to Oberaar. The way from Grimsel is much cheaper than the Junfraujoch version (no expensive train).