Between all the 4000m peaks in the Mischabel Group, the Gross Bigerhorn seems a summit of very little interest. However, people who honour the Gross Bigerhorn with a visit are rewarded with a fine view to the peaks of the Mischabel and Bernese Oberland and only for that reason the Gross Bigerhorn is worthy of ascent. But it is especially in combination with a traverse of the Balfrin that the Gross Bigerhorn comes to its right being part of a long high alpine outing in a magnificent scenery. The Gross Bigerhorn was first climbed on its own via the normal route in 1891 by W Grôbli with A Pollinger snr.
The Gross Bigerhorn is built up of 3 ridges. The WSW Ridge, which is the normal route from the Bordierhütte, the SW Ridge, which links the Gross Bigerhorn to the Balfrin, and the NNW Ridge, which is the most difficult ridge and provides the best climbing.
- WSW Ridge - PD (2 hours)
- SW Ridge - PD (1 hour)
- NNW Ridge - AD (7 to 8 hours)
All routes are described well in Valais Alps East
Selected Climbs by Swinding and Fleming.
- from the Zermatt Valley, starting from Gasenried and with an overnight stay in the Bordierhütte (SAC - 2886m - 56 places - Phone: 0041 (0)27 956 19 09)
- from the Saas Valley, starting from Saas Fee and with an overnight stay in the Mischabelhütte (AAC - 3329m - 130 places - Phone: 0041 (0)27 957 13 17)
Both ways are well marked but rather long. When one makes the traverse of the Balfrin and the Gross Bigerhorn coming from the Mischabelhütte, going back to the Saas Valley requires some effort. First take the bus from Gasenried to St.Niklaus. From there take the train to Stalden and finally hop on to the bus in the direction of Saas Fee. Make sure you check the schedules before leaving. When you arrive at 6 o'clock in the evening at Gasenried after being busy for 12 hours, you feel quite desolate when you find out the last bus has left some hours ago. Hitchhiking can be a good solution then.
There are a number of camping sites in the Saas and Zermatt Valleys. These are just 2 options.
- Camping Mischabel 0041 (0)27 957 29 61 (Saas)
- Camping Am Kapellenweg 0041 (0)27 957 40 40 (Saas)
When To Climb
The Gross Bigerhorn is best climbed in late spring, summer or early autumn. There are not really possibilities to climb the summit with tourskis and approach to the base of the routes is difficult in winter.
No red tape is required to climb the Gross Bigerhorn. To all visitors, make sure it keeps that way. Off course it's recommended to be a member of an alpine club to be insured for rescue in case of an emergency.