Ski Touring in the Berner Oberland • Switzerland • May 6- 11, 2007

Our last ski tour of this year was to the Berner Oberland. The hot, reliably sunny weather that had ruled almost un-interrupted through the month of April was definitely over now! But we still managed to find some good snow and get in a few summits.

Other Recent Trips


Our group poses here near the summit of the Gross Wannenhorn, on the warmest and calmest day of our tour. Seen here from left to right: Thomas Kral of Ottowa; Fred Larke from Denver, CO (this was Fred's third tour with us); Kathy; Mark; Kimber Keagle and Gerrit Saylor of Seattle, WA.


The trip began in a heavy rainfall as we made our way up to the Jungfraujoch on the famous train via Wengen.


The gloomy weather was in some ways a relief to the eyes after so much heat in April. Maybe the glaciers would get a little much-needed new cover...


Well, the views out the tunnel windows were pretty non-existent...


As were the views once we finally exited the Jungfraujoch tunnel complex at the train's terminus. Out the doors and into the white-out, we bundled up for a snowy first few hours of white-out navigation.


Visibility improved gradually as we descended the Jungfraufirn, and turned west toward the Hollandia Hut. Here we approach the hut, with the Konkordiaplatz in the distance.


The following morning it looked like we might have a chance to summit the nearby Ebeniflue with good visibility, but the speed at which these sinister clouds moved across the sky did not bode well.


In fact, by the time we had breakfasted and were out of the hut, the sky was grey and the cloud ceiling descending fast. We skinned up the hill into the thickening fog, until the "whooompf" sound of the new snow settling, convinced us we needed to see what we were doing if we wanted to consider doing more of it! We turned back and, after a warm lunch back at the Hollandia hut, we moved on to the Konkordia hut.


The Konkordia hut is famous for its ever-growing zig-zag of stairs, a new flight or two being added every year as the glacier recedes downward in the warming climate. We counted 473 stairs this year!


The reward is great however; the hut is welcoming, warm and well-appointed.


The following morning we finally got a break in the weather, though the clear skies came accompanied by a very strong wind, which blew all that lovely new snow away.


Still, it was nice to follow our line without the GPS for a change!


After descending into the Fiescher glacier, we climbed the Wyssnollen in the ever stronger, gathering gale. We deemed it prudent to climb the final, wind-exposed and steep slope on foot.


Kimber copes "womanfully" with some of the most challenging snow we've seen in a while. Still, it's all part of the fun...


The welcome warmth of the hut and a good meal at the end of the day are always a big part of what makes these ski tours so satisfying. We have dinner at the Finsteraarhorn hut, our home for the next two nights.


After a very noisy night of gale-force winds that shook the timbers of the hut and made us dream of hurricanes, we set out to see if it was really as bad outside as it sounded! Our weather-modified goal: an un-named peak (sometimes referred to as the "Chamonix spitze") along the ridge near the Agassiz horn. And as you can see, it really was pretty gusty!


Fortunately, the worst of the wind was low on the glacier. As we climbed higher, the gusts became fewer and milder.


The play of clouds over the ridges, and their shadows on the snow, kept us entertained as we skinned up for a couple of hours.


The Finsteraarhorn behind us...


Our first reward at the end of our climb, was that the air here was almost still. Clouds hid most of our view to the east, but in other directions we had plenty to look at. Our second reward was that the snow on the descent was quite good, and untracked! Lucky us!


The following morning we got an early start to ski the Gross Wannenhorn, seen here in the dawn light, en route to the Oberaarjoch hut.


At last, just plain fine, sunny weather!


The views to the east seem endless as we navigate the final slopes to the summit.


After a great ski down through mostly impeccable corn snow, we had a final couple of hours of uphill skinning in the "reflector oven" before arriving at the Oberaarjoch hut. The only guests at the hut that night, hut-keeper Kurt made us Appenzeller cheese fondue for dinner! His last bottle of Fendant served as our apéritif.


As we left the hut at dawn the next morning for our last day and our return to town, the swift-moving clouds reminded us eerily of our first morning at the Hollandia hut...


And sure enough, within an hour we were once again engulfed in cloud, snow, and fog. A brief relative clearing here as we approach a col.


The steep, rocky back side of the col warranted a short lower.


The snow on our descent was actually quite good, though the fog made it hard to relax and enjoy it, and once again the GPS was out for most of the day. Here we have finally run out of snow at about 2200m.


Our walk down through the soft green woods was a little longer than usual, but pleasant. We were soon in Munster, just in time to sort ourselves out and catch the train back to Interlaken.

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