The trilogy Eiger-Mönch-Jungfrau is well known, but mountaineers rarely see it, but tourists from their hotel. There is another trilogy that every mountaineer can see practically from any summit of the northern Swiss Alps: Rosenhorn (3689m) - Mittelhorn 3704m) - Wetterhorn (3701m).
There are four "normal" routes, depending on direction and season. You will need rope, ax, crampons. Hundred years ago, a cable car from Grindelwald (1200 m) in three stages was planned. The lowest part can still be seen and is an interesting reminder of the enthusiasm investors had before World War I.
Wetterhorn is neither a difficult, nor an easy mountain. Each access has its specialty. Three huts and one bivouac are at your choice and if you are in good shape and can climb 2500 meters in one morning, you do not have to bother about huts. The choice of the huts varies according to the season. In summer you have two huts with extremely nice walks. Even if you do not succeed in climbing the Wetterhorn, you will like the view and the variation of the climb to the Dossen- or Gleckstein huts. If you have an inexperienced person or child with you, a short rope is
nice to have.
Since the Wetterhorn can be seen from most mountains within 100 miles, the view is unique. Although everything up there is snow and ice, looking perpendicularly down to the green pastures of Grindelwald provides an unforgettable contrast.
Route 1: Gleckstein (summer only)
From Gleckstein hut follow the path to the Kringen Glacier. Cross it, leaving the crevasses to you right. Then climb in bad but easy rock towards the Wettersattel (3500m). All routes reach the Wettersattel, where a short ridge leads to the summit. The Mittelhorn invites you on your right. The ridge can be very easy or tricky, if it is icy or a cornice hinders the way. Going down can be dangerous, if other climbers throw loose stones on your neck. 5 hours.
Route 2: Gauli (summer and spring)
From the Gauli hut take the path to the west and descent to the Gauli Glacier. This Glacier became famous in November 1946 when an American DC3 plane with 12 passengers flew over the Alps. The pilot lost orientation in bad weather and landed unknowingly in deep powder snow at an altitude of 2800 m. The plane broke and is still there in the glacier and waits to reappear at the lower end of it someday. The passengers were all saved by members of the Swiss army by means of a small airplane: The world's first plane rescue in high mountains.
Statement of Ralph Tate, Pilot:
"I see the dark lines under us, very fast, and then - I understand later, they were crevasses, they automatically became a glacier. I did not know what it was. I just know we were very close to it. Because they went by so fast. I said: we are in the mountains. So I reach up and throw the throttles fore and I reach the propellers fore and the mixtures fore and I pull the yoke back. My copilot was sitting over here, he thought I got a vertigo, he was holding his yoke like this, that keep me from going
up, that ist dangerous, because it could stall, and I reach over and I get him out of control, and almost, as quickly as I said that, we are in the ground. I was thrown forward, must have been, something like this, and then I must be knocked unconscious."
Long walk on the glacier to a saddle (Wetterlimmi 3250m), leave Rosenhorn at you left (or climb it), head to the Wellhornsattel (3200m) where routes 3 and 4 join. You can see now the Wettersattel of route 1. A steep traverse above some hungry crevasses leads you to nicer fields and hopefully to the Wettersattel. From there to the summit, or (if it looks difficult) have a try with the easier Mittelhorn (3704m).
Route 3: Dossen (summer only)
From the Dossen Hut (2663 m) climb to the saddle (3035m) north of Dossen. To do that you can either stick to the ridge where the hut is situated or take the way over the glacier east of the ridge (hard snow in the morning, crampons). Then go down the couloir (rocks on ice) to the Rosenlaui Glacier and head for the Wellhornsattel where you join route 2.
Route 4: Rosenlaui (spring only)
From Rosenlaui (parking at 1367m) leave at ca. 4 a.m. and use the trail to the Engelhorn hut. Have a head light with you, since for the first hour you will walk in a forest. While leaving the forest, take the trail to the right leading to the Rosenlaui Glacier and the Dossen hut. Get on the huge moraine, follow it. Meanwhile, there will be snow to walk with skis. Keep left (east) as possible and wait till 2300 m before you step on the Glacier. Nearby is a bivouac: Rosenlaui-Bivouac, 2330m for 11
The glacier is full of crevasses. First, go straight up until you see a way to go the right to the middle of the glacier. After awhile the number of crevasses diminishes and the glacier gets flatter. Usually, a large horizontal crevasse blocks the climb, then you have to go extremely to your right (west) and find a way there. After that you head without problems to the Wellhornsattel where you join route 2. It takes ca. 7 hours climb from Rosenlaui to the summit, good physical condition is
It is almost impossible to do route 4 in summer, because you would lose too much time finding your way through this labyrinth. When the snow was hard in the morning, we usually did not use the rope. Without skis, climbing on long ropes is an
In case you are in Rosenlaui and the conditions are not ideal for the Wetterhorn, you may want to spend your time on the nearby Wildgerst.
For books, maps, webcams, trains, buses, weather, avalanches, rescue see my list Swiss Links in a new window
Spring (ski) or summer (foot). See photos.
Gleckstein hut, 2317 m, 90 places. Info ++41(0)33 853 25 18, only in summer, food and drinks.
Start from Grindelwald (1000 m, many hotels, camping ground), a tourist town connected to Interlaken by train. Drive with your car or bus as far as Hotel Wetterhorn (ca. 1250 m, parking is expensive in Grindelwald) or take the bus as far as Unter Lauchbühl (1558 m). From Hotel Wetterhorn, the path leads to the right of the paved road through a small forest to a pasture and a creek that is often covered with snow (even in August). At point 1550 you reach the path that starts at the bus station of about the same altitude.
The way to the hut is easy to find. It leads along the flank of Chrinnenhorn to its west ridge called Engi at 1670 m. A little below the footpath you notice a lonely building erected at the edge of a perpendicular wall. It is a station of a cable car, that was built 1904-08 and was the world's first cable car, the Wetterhorn Aufzug. The cabin could carry 16 passengers. it was built by the same company that constructed the cable cars in Wuppertal. The cable was 420 m long without any supporting mast. The investors had plans to build three additional sections to the top of the Wetterhorn. But in 1915 the operation came to a stop due to World War I. You can walk down and have a look at the station. I believe, one cabin is at the traffic museum in Lucerne.
The path follows the steep slope, sometimes over ladders. An extraordinary view on the Oberer Grindelwald glacier and the Schreckhorn mountains is overwhelming. At 2100 m the lofty path leads to a green pasture zigzagging to the hut. Even if you do not want to climb the Wetterhorn, this trip offers excellent scenery and is worth its effort. If you have children, have them on a short rope.
Some older guides may recommend to climb the hut via the Halsegg. I do not recommend that, the glacier has become leaner and the slippery rocks on the west side and the moraine on the east side may pose insurmountable problems.
Gauli hut, 2205 m, 32 places, info ++41(0)33 971 38 87, summer and winter, food and drinks only on certain days. Start from Inntertkirchen (620 m, hotels, camping ground), train, bus. Innertkirchen is at the base of two-pass roads: Susten, Grimsel. Its people live mainly on the income of hydroelectricity. Free parking space beyond the railroad track with clean toilet etc. Take the car or taxi to the Urbachtal (ca. 850 m), with a rugged car you can make it as far as Rohrmatten 1043 m. A pleasant path on the east of the creek leads through a forest to the alp Schrätteren (ca. 1500 m). If the creek is well covered with snow, it can be possible to reach this alp through the gorge by ski. Skiing down through the gorge is a real short cut, but check the stability of the snow cover, do not ski in the center.
From Schrätteren you cannot follow the creek but must climb the flank of the Hangendgletscherhorn to the point 2222 m. From there horizontally to the hut. No problem in summer, avalanches in winter and spring! Choose a cold day with no fresh snow or a day in May/June. Gauli hut is the starting point for many ski trips: Rosenhoren, Mittelhorn, Wetterhorn, Ankenbälli, Hangendgletscherhorn, etc.
Dossenhut, 2663 m, 55 places, info ++41(0)55 610 32 28, only in summer, food and drinks and Rosenlaui bivouac, 2330 m, 11 persons, info ++41(0)55 610 32 28, summer and winter. Blankets available, no light, no phone.
Start from Meiringen (595 m, hotels, camping ground, swimming, trains from Lucerne and Interlaken, Sherlock Holmes museum)
Take the car (in winter with chains) or bus (summer only) to Rosenlaui. Free parking 100 m higher at the entrance of the gorge of Rosenlaui (entrance fee). Either walk through the narrow and impressive gorge with the tourists or take the way through the forest. After leaving it, stay on the Engelhorn hut path (NOT to the right to the Gletscherhubel), a small sign tells you to go right to the flank of the Engelhörner. Head to the huge moraine that leads up the huge walls of the Gstellihorn. Then climb the steep couloir (in summer: fix rope, ladders etc.) to a flatter place where you see the Rosenlauigletscher. The skiers will now step on the glacier to find their way to the Wetterhorn. At left, hidden at the wall of the Dossen, is the Rosenlaui bivouac. Instead of climbing the Wetterhorn in one day, you can sleep here.
In summer you can reach the Dossen hut on an exposed path (II+) with ladders, ropes etc. Beginners should be held on a