Thursday, 10 March 2011

Grindelwald to Zermatt day 6 - Oberems to St Niklaus over the Augstbordpass

From the route's lowest point at Turtmann we journey to its highest at the Augstbordpass joining for a while the path of the Walker's Haute Route. Today is a journey through one of the most tranquil and unspoilt valleys in Switzerland and up to the edge of the High Mountain zone before descending at last to the Mattertal - the Valley of the Matterhorn.

My only regret on this stretch was in taking the post bus to Gruben, for while a road does head through the Turtmanntal, it would be worth spending an extra day to walk through it. Maximum altitude 2894m (9495ft)

Gruben in the Turtmanntal
The peaceful village of Gruben lies in the Turtmanntal, one of the most unspoilt valleys of the Alps. The village is as far up the valley as the postbus goes and is the start point for the hike to St Niklaus over the Augstbordpass.

Bernese Alps Once above the treeline the path heads into remote country with views back to the Rhone Valley and the Bernese Alps.

Ober Stafel above the Turtmanntal The stone shelters of Ober Stafel (2369m) high above the valley made a good lunch stop before crossing the pass.

Augstbordpass At 2894m or 9495ft the summit of the Augstbord Pass isn the highest point of the trek. The sign we now follow is the one for Jungu-St Niklaus.

Saastal peaks from the Augstbordpass Looking east from the top of the Augstbordpass the depths of the Mattertal are still largely unseen but the distant Saastal peaks etch the skyline with snow.

Tarn on the Augstbordpass The path is signed right for St Niklaus and Jungu/Jungen just before this small tarn is reached.

Mattertal After crossing a rough (but not difficult) section of path, the Mattertal comes into view a long way below. Here is a pathside viewpoint at about 2400m that was a good place to stop for a while.

Mattertal Looking up the length of the Mattertal from nearly the same spot. The Breithorn (4164m) is the peak in cloud at the head of the valley.

Jungen The tiny hamlet of Jungen sits on a shelf overlooking the Mattertal. It is accessed by a small cable car from St Niklaus and is a popular spot in summer.

St Niklaus The distinctive onion domed church at St Niklaus is close to where the gondola descends from Jungen.
Back to day 5 >>> Kandersteg to Oberems
On to day 6 >>> St Niklaus to Randa

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