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Switzerland
July 2001
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The trip started with 12 days in Zermatt, in the Valais region of the Bernese Oberland. The Matterhorn dominates the head of the valley.
Heading up a trail beneath the cloud-shrouded Matterhorn.
Zermatt.
An unusual bit of trail-routing through the Gornerschlucht.
On a non-hiking day, we took a series of cable cars up to the Klein Matterhorn (little Matterhorn). The mountain had been closed for several days due to bad weather, but things calmed down just in time for our "off-day."
The final cable-car run, the highest in Europe, from Trockener Steg to the Klein Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn, seen from the Klein Matterhorn, an angle that's less familiar to most people than the classic view from Zermatt.
The summit of the Klein Matterhorn had about 8" of fresh snow and rime ice.
The distant French Alps, to the west of Zermatt.
The Breithorn (right), a manageable climb for amateurs.
How many layers can I pull out of the backpack?
Gasoline-powered vehicles are prohibited in Zermatt, so one has a choice between little electric cars and more traditional means of transportation.
A street in the oldest section of Zermatt.
No fancy hiking fashions for me.
The Matterhorn. It never gets old.
A high pass near the Gornergrat, to the southwest of Zermatt.
Monte Rosa, Castor, and Pollux, in the Italian Alps, all making their contributions to the Gornergletscher (Gorner glacier).
In Switzerland, the trains can take you almost anywhere.
A trail across the roof of Europe.
The range of mountains on the opposite, eastern side of the valley.
Heading back down into the valley, and the promise of lunch. Even in seemingly remote areas, one encounters little cafés.
An afternoon stop for schnapps-laden coffee on the way down the western side of the valley, following a long climb.
The view of Zermatt from the café terrace.
After a short train ride north from Zermatt, we climbed to Moosalp.
Along the trail from Moosalp to Jungen.
The valley that leads south to Zermatt.
Approaching Jungen (the knob, center), and the top end of a cable car down to the railroad station at St. Nicholas.
After leaving Zermatt, I spent several days on my own in and around Interlaken. From Interlaken, a series of trains takes you to the Jungfraujoch, and the highest train station in Europe. Nice views.
From the Jungfraujoch.
Dogsled rides are available, even in mid-July.
The Aletschgletscher, at over 24 kilometers, is the longest in Europe.
Interlaken means "between the lakes," and to the west of town is the Thunersee.
A true steamboat, complete with sidewheels and a steam whistle, is the best way to sail the length of the Thunersee.
The Thunersee.
Approaching Thun, at the west end of the lake.
A villa beside the channel to Thun.
The Aare, the river that drains the Thunersee, passing under a covered bridge in Thun.
The Aare riverfront in Thun.
Thun Castle.
At the far end of the other lake, the Brienzersee, a rack railway takes day-trippers up the Rothorn.
The Little Engine That Could.
I spent the next 12 days hiking in and around Kandersteg.
The view of the Blümlisalp from my hotel room under the eaves of the Adler, in Kandersteg.
Halfway through a day-hike up the Lötschental, south of Kandersteg.
The Lötschental.
The Lötschengletscher, at the head end of the Lötschental.
High above Kandersteg.
The Oeschenensee, in an enormous valley 500 meters above Kandersteg.
Hiking in the mountains west of Kandersteg.
In the clouds, near First.
The descent. These long afternoon descents were knee-killers.
Paragliders.
Sheep grazing above Kandersteg.
A paraglider above Allmenalp.
On an "off-day," I headed for Bern.
Bern.
Bern.
A waterfall near Griesalp.
Heading into the barren, bowl-shaped valley of Gamchi, a spot that feels more Himalayan than Alpine.
Our most ambitious hike in Kandersteg took us 1000 meters above the Oeschenensee, seen here, to the base of the Fründengletscher. Even here, we found a climbing hut that served up a good lunch!