Saentis (german: Säntis) is the most known mountain in northeast of Switzerland. It looks like an island north of the Alps, no rival of this altitude is around. This characteristic is not only appreciated by the tourists who can admire a wide range of the Alps from Austria to the Bernina, Bernese Oberland and Diablerets. It is also possible to see the dome of Ulm in Germany on clear days. The massif, of which Saentis is the highest peak, is called Alpstein and is situated between the lakes of Constance and Walen. Meteorologist have chosen Saentis as an observation platform since 1879 and the personnel lived on the summit in solitude all year round to measure wind, precipitation, temperature, etc. This job was popular thanks to a high loneliness salary, that an unlucky candidate in 1920 would not accept that he did not get the job and decided to climb the mountain in order to kill the lonely weather watcher and his wife. This crime gave inspired writers and movie producers. On the mount Pilatus near Lucerne you still can see a copy of the Saentis hut, that was needed for such a movie.
Today nobody lives in a primitive hut on top of Saentis. Instead you can admire or hate the huge infrastructure with cable car, elevators, hotel, restaurant, art gallery, meteorological gear, a tower of 113 meter high with tons of electronic instruments for radio, telephone, tv, airlines, etc. The building, mostly underground, consists of 11 stories. Despite of this, climbing this mountain is still worthwhile. There are a dozen of different ways to climb it; its access is possible from all sides and is never boring. The landscape changes very often, sometimes you are on pasture with beautiful flowers, then on a ridge, a steep slope, a cool snow field. Simple huts offer drinks and food, so you will hardly suffer of thirst and hunger. Take your kids with you, most of them love this mountain, due to the great variety of impressions and the fun that awaits them on top. Lead them on a short rope! Otherwise no special gear is needed.
Saentis is also suited for good skiers and is accessible from the north-east side. Rock climbers are not frequent guests, they prefer the Kreuzberge and other lime rocks in the same massif.
Map Nr. 1115 Säntis 1:25'000
Map Nr. 2508 Säntisgebiet 1:25'000
Map Nr. 227 Appenzell 1:50'000
Book: Säntis - Churfirsten (SAC-Verlag)
See the Swisstopo Map with many interesting features. Upload is in a seperate window.
The cable car starts at Schwägalp and offers free parking. This place can also be reached by train and bus from Zuerich - Wattwil - Alt St. Johann. I like the cable car for going down, it is good for the joints. 10 minutes ride, every 30 minutes.
Other places to start the climb are:
Wasserauen (868 m, train), Ebenalp (1607 m, cable car), Brülisau (922 m, bus), Wildhaus (1084 m, bus).
A classical route leads from Weissbad (817 m, train) to Eugst - Bommen - Alp Garten - Chlus - Schäfler (1923 m, hut) Lötzlisalpsattel - Oehrligrueb - Höch Niederisattel - Blau Schnee - Saentis. 6 hours.
Two short descriptions of popular routes:
Start the climb at the lower station of the cable car (Schwägalp 1352 m: hotel, restaurant, cheese factory). A zig-zag way through herds of cows lead to the huge wall that looks hard to climb. Ladders, ropes etc. make it safe, however. At 2085 m the wall ends and you reach a ridge which offers a wonderful view of the Austrian alps. The Tierwis hut offers food and drink. The path turns left and leads along a flank to a snow field below the summit. Go back to the ridge on your left and climb the steep wall (fixed rope) that ends on the summit. 3 hours.
Leave the summit on its steep south-east slope and ski down to Meglisalp (1517 m). Climb the saddle on your right (1856 m), ski to Saemtis, cross the frozen Säemtisersee and take a last little climb to Plattenbödeli (1279 m). Ski or walk to Brülisau (922 m, bus). 3 hours.
There are so many routes, so that there is one for each season.
For books, maps, webcams, trains, buses, weather, avalanches, rescue see my list Swiss Links in a new window.