Sustenhorn East Ridge offers a nice, sustained and very complete alpine tour. It starts from the Voralphutte (2.126m) with a bit of protected rockclimbing at night. Then there’s an easy glacier to be crossed. Finally the route follows the ridge proper, with some fun, exposed climbing on good rock.
The Steingletscher offers a contrasting and easy descent via Sustenlimi, either to the Chelenalphutte (2.350m) or the Tierberglihutte (2.795m). All in all a very nice alpine day out!
Route as seen from Voralphutte (image used with permission of Bruno Mueller, Voralphutte).
Route as seen from Sustenjoch
Starting point for this climb is the Voralphutte (2.126m). There are two ways to reach this hut.
1) from Göschenen via Voralptal
From Göschenen (1.100m), at the northern entrance of the Gotthard tunnel, on the A2 – E35 highway: by car or by postal bus direction Göscheneralp, until you reach the Parkplatz Voralpkehr (1.402m).
From there on foot over a nice path to the hut. Time from Voralp is 2,5 hrs. Time on foot from Göschenen is 4 hrs. Choosing this approach and returning via the Chelenalphutte makes a nice loop.
2) from Sustenpass (2.224m) via Sustenjoch (2.656m)
To spice things up a little, you can park the car at the Sustenpass and make the approach via the Sustenjoch. This is in itself an alpine route graded PD/WS.
From Sustenpass, take the track behind the restaurant. Keep going in a generally northeasterly direction, until you reach another small hut on a ridge, still close to the Sustenpass road. From there, an old (partially overgrown) track leads in southeast direction into the Chalchtal, until you reach another track that is marked in blue/white marks, on the valley floor.
From there on, follow the marked route up unto a moraine underneath the Sustenjoch northface. From there, depending on conditions, the route turns right over a snowfield and gradually climbs the face.
Here's some photos from this approach:
Getting to the top
Crossing Brunnenfirn The notch
Climbing time from the Voralphutte is 6 – 7hrs. Difference in height is approx. 1.377m.
From the hut, follow the marked trail up the valley, until you reach a footbridge crossing the river. Continue in a WNW direction following the crest of a moraine, until you hit the rockwall coming down from the Brunnenfirn. Look for the blue marks on this wall, that’s where a marked climbing route starts (the old approach over the Brunnenfirn has come into disuse due to the condition of this glacier). This marked climbing route has some pegs and good belays, it’s about 4 or 5 pitches of 50m, not difficult.
You reach the Brunnenfirn and head NW to an obvious notch in the lower E-ridge, west of point 2.914m, marked on CN. Gain the ridge at this col and, depending on conditions, follow the ridge or cross a snowfield to reach a couloir that climbs from left to right underneath a wall.
Follow this couloir for a bit, until you reach easier rocks that you climb to gain the ridge proper. From here, keep on the ridge itself as much as possible, occasionally moving to the right (north) of the ridge (loose rocks).
There’s only the odd peg for protection, so bring enough slings, runners and maybe a friend or
On the ridge
two. The climbing is not difficult, grade 3 – 4 UIAA, but the ridge is airy and the climbing is great on relatively good rock. All climbing can be done on a running belay.
The descent goes over the Steinbergglacier, either to the Chelenalphutte (to return to Göschenen) or to the Tierberglihutte (to return to the Sustenpass). Both huts can be reached relatively fast and easy from the summit. In bad weather, navigation on the Steinbergglacier can be problematic.
Photos of the climb in chronological order:
This is a very nice and modern hut, since it has been completely rebuilt after an avalanche in 1988. Since September 2005, it’s run by the couple Anita Stadler und Bruno Müller (and their dog). They are very friendly and know the Uri alps very well. Bruno also knows a lot about crystals.
Tel: +41 (0)41/887 04 20
Owned by section Uto SAC
Tel: +41 (0)41/885 19 30
Owned by section Aarau SAC
Tel: +41 (0)33/971 27 82
Owned by section Baselland SAC
1 single 50m. rope (no abseils needed), crampons, axe, some slings, some runners, carabiners, maybe some friends, headlamp, helmet.
Maps and books1) Maps
For the approach from Göschenen and descent to Chelenalphutte, you can use map 1231 Urseren (1:25.000). For the approach from Sustenpass, climb and descent to Sustenpass, you can use map 1211 Meiental (1:25.000).
You can also use map 255 Sustenpass (1:50.000).
These maps can be ordered online at Swisstopo
The SAC-guidebook ‘Urner Alpen 2: Göscheneralp – Furka – Grimsel’ by Toni Fullin and Andi Banholzer has all the info for this climb and many more in the neighbourhood.
The book can be ordered online on the site of the SAC
These are useful links for mountaineering in kanton Uri
and more specifically for Göschenertal
you can also find nice pictures from this route.