E-Mail correspondence with other walkers


A number of  fellow walkers have contacted me since I published the APR website. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any questions answering. 

However, do remember that they will be my opinions and I am not an “expert” about the Alps. 

I accept no responsibility for any misfortunes that may 

occur to you!!! 

To help others I will publish interesting letters and my replies. I will not reveal your email address to others unless you ask me to.

If you read my replies and wish to add to them please contact me.

Contact me by email at steverabone@hotmail.com

One little point ; please acknowledge any email answer I send you.  Sometimes people forget to do this.  I like to know whether what I've written is of use to you. 


This letter was received from Mike Smithers in June 2001

Dear Stephen

In summer 2002 I’m intending to take a group of Army Cadets on the APR. I’m intending to wild camp wherever possible. What comments have you about the best places to do this. Will we have any problems with farmers doing this. What about obtaining food supplies and water? Trust you can help.

  I replied

Dear Mike

I’m afraid that wild camping is discouraged in the Alps and I believe is actually illegal in some places. However, read what Kev Reynolds has to say about camping where he says that he’s never been refused permission by a farmer when he asked. If you do wild camp you obviously must leave the site exactly as you found it and be careful not to pollute water supplies. You may find that some of the mountain huts offer you another alternative, although I assure you that their toilet facilities can be somewhat pungent!! There are a few municipal and private camping grounds, but they won’t be the sort of place you have in mind.


This letter was received from Annabel Browning in August 2001

I’m a single woman intended to walk the Alpine Pass route at the end of September and beginning of October. I’ve had plenty of mountain walking experience in Britain. Do you think it’s a good idea for me to do the walk?

My reply was

Dear Annabel

There are several issues here.

1)      Firstly, are you as a woman, likely to experience any harassment, or worse? It strikes me as pretty unlikely as Switzerland tends to be a pretty safe country to visit. However, there is always that risk, especially in lonely places. No doubt you’ve walked alone in Britain so you will be aware of the slight risk because of your gender. We saw several lone women walkers en route.

2)      Walking  the route on your own because of the risk of having an accident and needing rescuing is another matter altogether. We saw plenty of  solo walkers. Particularly on the more popular sections of the walk between Engelberg and Kandersteg, it is unlikely that you will not meet other walkers frequently. If the risks involved in walking solo bother you for this reason, stick to this central section.

3)      The time of year that you mention for doing the walk may cause you problems. The available daylight is reducing and you may find that on some of the longer days that you are arriving quite close to dusk with little time spare before dark should anything delay you. Here I think you must set off early every day. There is also an increased likelihood of snow falling on some of the high passes. Read what Kev Reynolds has to say about the best time of year to do the APR.


The letter below was received from Ronnen Floss from Haifa in Israel on 11.04.02

Hello! I must say ,your website is very good and I really want to do the Alpine Pass Route. I hope you can answer me a few queries. 

1. I don't eat out because of my religion. Are there stores in the places you  stay each night where one can buy groceries?  What are the standard opening hours? 

2. Where can I get information on timetables of the post buses on the route? (Web or Tel) 

3  I'm 32 and I exercise regularly. I did the West Highland Way and the South Downs walking about 27 km a day. But I have no experience in high mountain hiking. Could I do it? Does one need to learn how to use the walking sticks?

Thank you! Ronen.


My response to this letter

Dear Ronen

Thanks for your email and kind comments about my APR website. To answer your questions:

1) You will be able to buy food in most places you stay enroute. There are small supermarkets in most villages and towns. They generally open by 08.00 (sometimes earlier) and close about 18.00. They may close a little earlier on Saturdays and are almost always shut on Sundays. One problem you will find is the "Ruhetag" when they may close all day or in the afternoon. The best way to discover when this will be would be to phone the local tourist office and ask for advice.

I would suggest that you might need to buy your food for the evening in the morning and carry it with you, as it is likely that you may arrive too late for the shops to be open. In a few places there are no village shops. If you start at Sargans buy food for two days as Weisstannen had no shop (as far as I can remember). The next day on to Elm is a long walk but you should arrive in time for the shops. There is no shop at the Klausenpass so you'll need to buy food in Linthal. After that the only place where there is no shop is at Griesalp. Buy two days food in Lauterbrunnen or Murren and carry it over the Sefinnenfurgge.

2) To find the Postbus/Train times use the link on the website to take you to the SBB timetable website. This covers almost all-public transport in Switzerland.

3) This is the hard question to answer. The APR is a hard walk. Most days you climb at least 1000 to 1500 metres and the descent is sometimes even greater. It is very demanding and ideally you should have more mountain walking experience than you seem to have had. You say that you have walked the West Highland Way. If you can recall the climb to the Devil's Staircase in Glencoe and multiply that by 4 or 5 times this will give you an idea of the climbs involved. Many of the climbs are also much steeper than anything on the West highland Way.

Another aspect that you should consider is altitude. I appear to experience some difficulties at around 2800-3000 metres due to the onset of the first symptoms of altitude sickness - headaches, slight breathlessness and tiredness. You may also find that this happens to you. If you do, slow down, rest frequently and drink plenty of water and energy giving food.

One aspect of the APR that should not be a problem is route finding. This is often a serious problem in mountains but is not likely to cause you difficulties as the Swiss paths are almost always clearly marked.

You may also find it better to start the route at somewhere like Attinghausen or Engelberg and forget the eastern part of the walk as the escape route transport is better here and if it becomes too difficult then you simply take the bus!! Also you avoid most of the problems of finding food that I mentioned earlier. I met another Israeli who was walking the APR only from Grindelwald to Kandersteg and he was having a great time.

4) We use walking poles because of the problems we have with knees and feet. You are younger than we are so you may not need them. Most Swiss walkers use two poles and personally I would not walk without them. They give you much greater stability when walking and certainly help with the descent. Poles are extremely easy to use and you don’t need any training to use them. Ask the staff at the shop how to adjust and use them.

  Hope the above helps. I would say have a go.  But be cautious and be prepared to change your plans and turn back or give up and do easier day walks instead.


Ronen Fluss wrote back on 14th April 2002

Hello Steve!

I thank you for your detailed answer and good advise. I think I'll try to plan my way from the west to east and see how I go along. Thanks and keep on your walks,I'll be happy to review them on your site.


My reply to him was

Dear Ronen

I think your idea of walking west to east is a good idea. The western end of the walk from Montreux-Col des Mosses-Gsteig-Lenk-Adelboden should be well within your experience level. By the time you've got to Adelboden you should be nice and fit. Then you can tackle the first real "Alpine Pass" crossing of the Bundechrinde to Kandersteg. You will then be faced with the long climb up to the Hohturli and then the steep descent to Griesalp. I think I'd consider staying at the Blumlisalphutte on the Hohturli pass to break up this hard day.

If you get this far you'll have no problems with the rest of the walk!!

Do let me know how you get on.


This letter was received from Sharon Everitt in July 2002

Dear Stephen

Both my husband and I (40's) are planning to walk the APR in August 2002. We live in Geneva so have loads of experience rambling in the nearby French Alps.

My question is....how steep is steep? Did you find the passes safe? Some of the French trails are extremely exposed, "shalely"(screes) and oftenhave no safety ropes/chains...all of which makes it very slippery and dangerous to cross!

We have been to the Grindelwald area and done some of the APR route there. The Swiss trails appear to be well maintained and "safe". Can we expect similar conditions along the rest of the APR hike?

P.S. Thanks for postimg your site. It's certainly given us some motivation.


S. Everitt

  I replied

Dear Sharon

Thanks for your email about the APR. It is rather difficult to answer your questions because one person’s idea of “safe” or “steep” is not necessarily the same as another’s. However, I will have a go!!

  The passes that could be counted as “difficult” are the Richetlipass, the Sefinenfugge and the Hohturli.

  We didn’t cross the Richetlipass due to the appalling conditions after several weeks of heavy rain. We did meet a Swiss walker who told us that he felt that one small section was rather exposed and would have benefited from a fixed rope.

  The Sefinenfurgge is perfectly safe going up from Murren; at the top there is a fixed cable to help you across a rock slab. I simply sat down and shuffled over this small section. Then you are on the long “ladder” which you will see in one of the photos. This was in poor repair in summer 2000 but may have been repaired. Frances didn’t like going down it but I didn’t find it too bad. (Usually it’s me who hates anything tricky.)

  The ascent to the Hohturli is safe as there are plenty of ladders and fixed cables and we thoroughly enjoyed the ascent, in the company of a Swiss woman wearing a white jogging suit!

  Going down several of the passes -  Sefinenfurgge; Hohturli; Bunderchrinde there are scree slopes, but the paths zigzag down quite safely, although I wouldn’t have wanted to do these sections without my two walking poles, and we did see several people “sit down”.

  I would not class any of the walk as “steep” in the sense that you have to scramble using your hands up rocks – there is always a path. Of course, being the Alps the gradient is often steep!

  The paths in the Grindelwald area are indeed well maintained: - I would say the APR is also well maintained and “safe” for competent and careful walkers. There is, however, always the possibility of damage to paths caused by the weather, although this seems to be repaired promptly.

  I hope this answers your questions. I’m sure you will enjoy the APR. Good Luck


This letter was received from Shelley Robinson in August 2002

My husband and I wanted to do some hiking in Switzerland at the end of
August but we only have a week off work. We were inspired by your website on
your APR walk which we found from Ken Baldry's website.
I must say that your website is very interesting and very informative.
We have backpacked the Tour Du Mont Blanc and part of the GR5 in France but
a few years ago now. We decided we would like to try some more backpacking
before our joints give up on us entirely!
Since we only have a week off work, could you please recommend a section of
the APR ( I appreciate that this will be your opinion but you have been
there so I would value what you have to say)?
We will be backpacking with a tent and I notice from one of the e-mails
which you have received, that wild camping is not really an option. Are
there official camp sites along the route? Do the Mountain huts allow you to
camp outside (as we found when doing our other backpacking holidays in
Thankyou for any help or advice you can provide
I replied
 Dear Shelley
Thanks for your kind comments. Probably the best section of the APR is
from Engelberg to Kandersteg. This can be divided up into the following sections:

Day 1: Engelberg to Meiringen (take the cable car out of the valley as we 
did to save a slog up through the forests).

Day 2: Meiringen to Grindelwald

Day 3: Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen

Day 4: Lauterbrunnen to Griesalp

Day 5: Griesalp to Kandersteg

You will find that the first three days are relatively easy walking and 
will “break you in nicely” so I suggest you have a rest day at Lauterbrunnen 
before tackling the two harder passes – Sefinenfurgge and Hohturli. 
If you don’t need a rest day, the section on from Kandersteg to Adelboden is 
 also very enjoyable.

 As far as back packing is concerned I can’t really add anything to 
what I and others have written –it appears to be discouraged but some 
walkers have back-packed the APR.I suggest you contact the local tourist offices 
to ask about campsites.

This letter was received from Sylvester in October 2002


Excellent website! Is it possible/wise to walk the route from west to east? 
What about signposting etc.?

Thanks, Sylvester
I replied
 Dear Sylvester
Thanks for your email and kind comments. 
Yes, it is possible to do the walk in either direction. 
Signposting in Switzerland is excellent and you will find 
the route marked out in both directions. 
There is no "Alpine Pass Route" signing (as yet) although 
I believe there is the possibility of it being waymarked 
as part of the new Via Alpina route from Italy to Austria.

Starting at Montreux you will have a fairly easy start 
so by the time you reach the Bernese Oberland you will be fit!

Let me know how you get on 
Stephen Rabone

This letter was received from Kathryn Kurtz in June 2003

We are planning to hike the APR later this summer and have a couple questions. We have hiked extensively in Switzerland so are familiar with the trail signs, weather conditions, etc. 

Why do most people choose to hike the APR from east to west? 

We are not planning to book most overnight hotels ahead. Did you find crowds in the overnight villages and do you think we might arrive to find all places full? 

Were the trails crowded.?

Thank you for your response, 

Kathryn Kurtz Hillsboro, OR, USA

I replied

Dear Kathryn

Thanks for your email

West to East or east to West?

It’s an interesting question why virtually everybody does the walk from Sargans to Montreux!

I actually think that is the best way for a number of reasons. The principal one is that Montreux is a better destination than Sargans. When you crest the Cold de Chaude and see spread before you the dramatic view of Lac Leman (Lake of Geneva) your spirits will soar and you will then find yourself walking the last stretch in anticipation of reaching your destination. Then in the evening you have the chance to sit by the lake  and have an ice cream or a drink in one of Montreux’s numerous promenade cafes.

If you walked towards Sargans I think you would feel that the walk fades out as you meander down from Weisstannen to Sargans and the sense of arrival will be very flat. Sargans is, no doubt, a nice little town but it’s really not much more than a railway junction in the upper part of the Rhine valley.

In terms of the mechanics of the walk itself it doesn’t matter which way you walk the APR. You will probably find that walking west means that the sun is on your face most of the time rather than on your back: personally I prefer that. The APR is not specifically signposted as such, as for instance many walks in the United Kingdom are, so navigation will be no more difficult either way. However, the guide books are all written for an east to west route and reading a guide book backwards is not the easiest of tasks.

Two of the passes have very long descents towards the west, the Richetli (1613m) and Hohturli (1602m) – that’s over 5000 feet so going westwards may make these passes easier.


You can probably find accommodation as you go along but I think it would probably be a good idea to have a list of telephone numbers and phone up hotels etc. the day before. I’d hate to think you arrived in Weisstannen or Griesalp, for instance with no bed. Many places are surprisingly quiet in summer in Switzerland  because the busy time is in the Winter. Last year (2003) hoteliers were complaining how poor bookings were as a result of the lack of non-European visitors after 9/11 and the strength of the Swiss Franc against the Euro.

  Crowded or quiet

The APR is fairly busy in the places you’d expect – the Bernese Oberland - but even here usually only on a few sections with easy access by car or public transport. Expect relatively large numbers around Engelberg,  Grindelwald, Kleine and Grosse Scheidegg, and the Hohturli. For much of the rest of the walk you will have the trail almost to yourself. If the weather is less than perfect the Swiss often stay at home and wait for a better day!! Even when it is busy we rarely found it as crowded as walks in the English Lake District often are.

Hope this of use to you. Let me know how you get on. We’re off to Fiesch and Saas Grund for more walking this summer. Hopefully I’ll post details on my More Swiss walks section later in the Summer.


This letter was received from Jeremy McTeague in July 2003

Dear Stephen,

 Just a very short note to say that although I have lived in Switzerland for 4 years and am an avid walker, I have not come across such a concisely descriptive site before.  Super!

Please feel free to publish this letter.

Best wishes

Jeremy McTeague

I replied
 Thanks for your kind comments. Keep an eye on my "More Swiss Walks" 
pages for more walks in the Fiesch and Saastal areas, 
which will hopefully appear by the end of August.

This letter was received from Thomas Widmer in July 2003

Hello Mr. Rabone.

My name is Thomas Widmer, I'm a Swiss journalist and an active hiker, and
I'm currently working on an article for FACTS news magazine in Zurich about the alpine pass route. I found your internet site about the trail and your experiences very interesting, accurate and often hilarious. Could you answer the following questions for my article? 1. How did you find out about the alpine pass route? Who told you about it? 2. If you look back at the year you did all the walking and hiking, what is the most important experience you made during the trip? 3. What is, in your opinion, the most important attraction on the way from Sargans to Montreux? Thanks a lot for answering. Of course, you will get a copy of the article Greetings from Switzerland,
Thomas Widmer (by the way, I crossed the
Surenenpass last Sunday, and I had a great time up there)
I replied
One day I was in a book shop in Glasgow when I found a book in the 
“Lonely Planet” series of guides called “Walking in Switzerland” 
(ISBN 086442 327 6). 
This gave a complete route description of the APR. After reading it 
several times I suggested to my wife that we should try to walk the route.
Without any doubt the ascent, and descent of the Sefinnenfurgge was 
the most exciting and demanding section of the walk. 
We had both been dreading the descent from the pass towards Griesalp 
along the ladder, having seen some photographs of it. 
Unfortunately,it was even worse than we had feared because the 
ladder had been quite badly damaged and required a great deal of care to 
use it safely. When we looked back to the pass I remember thinking, 
“Did we really come down that?”
The following day climbing to the Hohturli was also a marvellous experience, 
especially since the glaciers are so lose at the pass and the view so extensive. 
This was also the first time that I had been able see close-up all the different 
features of glaciation that I had studied at University.
Probably this is the section past the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch, 
especially when you see and hear the noise of the ice breaking on the glaciers in 
the afternoon heat. It is such a pity though that the station and tourist 
facilities at Kleine Scheidegg spoils part of this walk, but shouldn’t everybody 
have the chance to see these incredible mountains close-up? 
Because of this I can forgive man’s intrusion!


This letter was received from Kev Reynolds, the writer of so many books about walker in the Switzerland.

Dear Steve,
I was very interested to read your e-mail - thanks for writing.

First the APR.  I'd visited your website several times, and congratulate you

on it; it both looks and reads very well.  I've almost finished putting

together a new edition of my APR guidebook, having rewalked the route again

late last summer with my wife (it's taken almost a year to find time to

construct this new edition as I've had other contracts to fulfill), and have

discovered lots of 'new' accommodation along the way.  My enthusiasm for the

route remains as strong as ever, and from a study of your website, it would

appear that you and your wife feel the same.

As for your recent experience in the Saastal,
 ( see the More Swiss Walks pages under Leiternweg in the Saastal section)
I'm afraid I can shed no light

on the 'abrupt end' to the Leiternweg  above Saas Grund.  It's not a path

I've ever walked, but I have a friend working in a hotel in Saas Grund this

summer, and I'll ask him if he knows anything about it.  

My thanks again for taking the trouble to write, and good luck with all your

future mountain trips.

Best wishes

Kev Reynolds

This letter was received from Geoff Mailey in February 2003

Dear Steve,
I'm an Australian  planning to walk the Swiss Alpine Trail but starting in
the Silvretta Alps and waking east to Montreux.
In researching the trip I was delighted to discover your website. What a
great resource !!
I just wonder whether I could ask some questions of you?
Firstly, I noticed from your trip notes that you stayed in mostly Hotels. As
 solo walker I would prefer to stay in Alpine Huts ,mostly because of the
cost factor and a desire to sleep high as opposed to being in the valleys at
night time .Are there many huts available on the Alpine Pass Route that
offer half board?
Secondly, I intend to start the walk in early June this year. I know its
early in the season so do you think I will have problems getting over some
of the high places.
Thirdly, because I am starting early in the summer I need to ensure that the
huts I do stay in are being serviced at that time of the season.Do you know
of a publication in English that will give me this information?
In terms of my own walking experience I have completed a number of Europe's
long distanced footpaths over the years including the GR5,E4 and G10,
all as solo walks.

Thanking you in advance.  
Geoff Bailey

I replied
I've no experience of the hut system other than a few visits for drinks. 
I suggest that you visit the website of the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) which
is to be found at www.sac-cas.ch . The site is almost entirely in German
but a pocket dictionary will help you out. On the the site's 
menu bar click on Unterwegs and then on the next page Hütte suchen. 
A new window will open up with a link to alpenonline.ch . Clicking on this will
open up a pop-up window . You can now search for huts in three ways ;
1) by clicking on the regional map
2) by selecting a name of a hut (wählen Sie eine Hütte aus)
3) by selecting a town in the nearby valley (wählen Sie einen Talort aus)
The regional maps and also the maps opened up by the hut or valley seraches
all have the huts marked on them. Clicking on these will open up a page about 
the hut. You'll find wberything you need on these pages including contact details
and facilities and opening details.
For general advice about the SAC huts I suggest you read Ken Baldry's 
comments. You'll find details of his website on the links page.
I also suggest you contact the Association of British Members of the Swiss
Alpine Club . Their website is at www.abmsac.org.uk .It's probably worth 
joining this group for the reduction in the hut fees that you'll receive 
being affiliated to the SAC. The link to the SAC from the ABMSAC is 
out-of-date at the moment!!
I can't help as far as the problems of doing the walk in early June are 
concerned. You will, I'm pretty certain, come across snow on the higher passes
 but it will depend to some extent on how much snow has fallen in the winter 
and how quickly it melts in the spring and early summer. As you are
obviously very experienced in the Alps I'm sure you know to ask the 
locals about conditions on the passes.
I hope the above is of some help. Please let me know how you get on.

This letter was received from Joshua Abel on 15th May 2004

Hi.  My name is Joshua Abel and I am currently a third year California

>university student studying abroad in France.  This summer, I got the

>idea of hiking the Alpine Pass Route from the Lonely Planet guide to

>Walking in Switzerland.  I am planning on starting out around June 11

>and taking about 24 days total to do the route, including a 2 day rest

>stop in Interlaken.  Is mid-June too early to hike the route snow-wise?

>Did you meet a lot of people along the way at the different huts/hotels

>because I am planning on doing this alone? Do you have any other

>recommendations as to stuff to watch out for, etc.?


I replied
Dear  Joshua

Good to hear that you are planning to walk the APR. I don’t think you need worry too much about doing the walk on your own provided you are happy to take the risk that you may have an accident. This obviously applies to any mountain walking so you must decide this for yourself. You’ll certainly meet plenty of  other walkers en route and in huts/hotels. We met many solo walkers – two stand out; a Swiss guy in his late fifties and a young Israeli in his twenties. We also met several women walking solo so I don’t think you need worry about personal security.

  As far as snow is concerned this is always uncertain in the mountains. There has been a lot of snow this winter. My parents have just come back from Switzerland and report lots of snow high up. One way to keep an eye on this situation is to look at www.topin.ch which has webcams all over Switzerland. These are general located at the top  cable car stations. Having said that a warm spring could see it melt away. It is of course possible to have snow in July and August. In August 2002 we had to abandon a couple of days walking because of snow and paths near Grindelwald were closed for a couple of days!

  My hunch is that if you start at Sargans on June 11th by the time you reach the high passes in the Bernese Oberland towards the end of June most of the snow will have melted. On the first part from Sargans to Grindelwald  I doubt you will have a problem although you might find  snow on the Richetlipass just beyond Elm. If this is the case and it’s not safe (ask the locals) do what we did and walk (or take the bus and train) around the problem! One of the great things about the APR is that it seems acceptable to walk the sections that you are capable of walking (or the weather allows) and you can still say you walked it. Kev Reynolds in his book stresses that this flexibility is one of the APR’s assets. 

  As far as other problems are concerned I’ve covered everything we had difficulty with in my introduction on the website.

Let me know how you get on as I like to hear others experiences

This letter was received from Fatemeh Ebtehaj in June 2004

Dear Stephen,

Thanks for your very helpful website.

I have done the Alpenpassroute 
twice and enjoyed it very much. I want to do it

again with my 
daughter this year, starting from Launen and going till Altdorf.

Our problem is that we both have a severe fear of heights 
and hate passages

where we have to hold on to ropes. We 
therefore want to avoid the Hohturli pass

and the Sefinenfurgge. Is there any route you can suggest 
that would take us

from Kandersteg to Murren without going 
over these passes? At this point, we are

thinking of a day trip to the beautiful Oeshinensee and 
the bus/train for some

of the route till Murren, and I am looking 
for a route that would allow us to

walk at least a few hours.

Best wishes


I replied
Dear Fatemeh

I’ve had a ponder about your problem. I can understand why you don’t want to cross the two passes. I’ve only to say “Seffinenfurgge” to my wife and she pulls a face!

  I’ve two suggestions:

  The first is to remember that the problems on both the two passes occur only one one side of the pass. If you walked from Mürren to Seffinenfurgge and then back to Mürren you would avoid that dreadful ladder and scree slope on the Griesalp side. The path up from Mürren to the pass isn’t that difficult. You could treat it as a day walk and leave your main pack at the hotel in Mürren  (or Lauterbrunnen if you stayed there).

   In the same way you could walk up from Kandersteg to the Hohturli (perhaps take the cable car part of the way up or down and leave your heavy bags in the hotel again) and then return to Kandersteg. If you wanted you could even stay in the hut at the Hohturli! This way you’ll avoid the ladders and ropes on the way from Griesalp to the Hohturli. If you don’t reach the pass summit it won’t matter because the concept of the APR is to do what you want of it and not necessarily walk every step.

  The advantage of this idea is that you’d see the scenery on these two sections, which  is of course magnificent, without having to do those tricky sections.

  If you prefer to give them a miss, I’d suggest that you walk down the valley from Lauterbrunnen to Zweilutschein or Wildeswil – there’s a path marked on the map the whole way. Then take the train via Interlaken and Spiez to Frutigen. Fron here you can walk up the valley to Kandersteg. There’s also an hourly bus from Frutigen to Kandersteg if you don’t want to walk the entire way. If you go to the Swissgeo website, which is mentioned on my website, you should be able to find the routes by entering the town names and adjusting the scale. Just follow the instructions on the Internet map section. ( I’ve just realised I’ve written these instructions the wrong way for your route)

  Hope this helps. Come back to me if you need more advice




In June 2004 Nathalie Destandau wrote

Hello Stephen,

What  a great web-site you have developed! I am planning a 6 day/5 night hiking 
trip with our two daughters, 9 and 10, and I found your site as I was looking 
for more information about the Hohturli.

I remember the thrill of "stepping over" the Seffinenfurke five years ago 
(on a gorgeous, sunny day, nothing as harrowing as you describe!) and would 
like for my daughters to also experience the thrill of reaching a summit 
during our hike this year. However, I want to do this safely and without 
exhausting them, so I have planned to cover short daily distances, leaving 
plenty of time for breaks, to enjoy the scenery, and to play when we get 
to the huts.  Still, your various descriptions of reaching the Hohturli 
(and going down toward Griesalp) make me wonder whether it is even realistic 
to think that a 9 and a 10 year old should attempt that hike, and I thought 
that you might be just the right person to ask for advice. 
So here it goes:

1. I was looking at the following itinerary.  Although both girls ski and 
have hiked in the Sierras (we live in California,) they have never been 
to the Alps; so, I was thinking that going slowly and giving them time 
to hang out at the huts would help them get used to the dramatic scenery. 
My question is, though, does it seem that the daily distances I have 
planned are too short?

Day 1. starting our hike in Kandersteg and hike to Doldernhutte

Day 2. Dolderhutte to Oeschinensee (staying at Ober Bergli)

Day 3 Oeschinensee to Hohturli (staying at Blumlisalphutte)

Day 4 Blumnlisalp to Bundalp (staying at a berghaus there)

Day 5  Bundalp to Grieschlucht

2. Would it be better to start in Griesalp and finish in Kandersteg 
to avoid the nasty descent from Hohturli that you describe?

3. Should I just forget about the Hohturli altogether???

I thank you in advance for your answers, and please, feel free to 
be brief! I just wish I'd found your site earlier! We are leaving 
California on July 9 and plan to hike July 27-31.

Once again, thanks for all the great info you make available 
on your site and I look forward to you reply!

Best wishes,

I replied

Dear Nathalie

Firstly, thanks for your kind comments about the website. I  think it’s great that you want to take your girls up into the mountains to experience that incredible feeling you get high up. I certainly see no reason why two, presumably, fit and health children shouldn’t make it comfortably to the Hohturli. We’ve actually seen many young children when we’ve been walking in Switzerland. On the Oberrothorn (over 3000m) we met a father with his six year old; he’d actually fastened him to the end of a rope! So go for it. Show them the photos of what they’ll see and tell them it will be even better when they see the real thing!

  Now, to practical matters. I think you should do the walk from Griesalp for several reasons. Firstly, the altitude gain isn’t as much but, more importantly, I think that going up the ladders will be easier than coming down, especially for children. Going up there is little sense of exposure as you’re looking upwards. If you fall you go on your front and not head over heels. In case you don’t remember, the path up the ladders on the Hohturli is perfectly safe ( well, it was in 2000). They’re called ladders but really they’re more like wooden or metal staircases. There are several rest benches as well, if you get tired. Coming down from the Hohturli the path is relatively easy.

  We took about four hours including several long breaks to get from Griesalp to the Hohturli but you can obviously break this section up as you suggest by staying at Bundalp. On the other hand you may find that they are happy to go on to the Blumlisalphutte on the first day. If they are fit (and I suspect hiking in the Sierras is fairly demanding) then why not go for the ascent all at one go. I do think, however, that they may need a little time to adjust to the altitude in the Alps. Also make sure you have plenty of water with you. We took two 600ml water bottles and needed most of it on the ascent.

  Coming down to Kandersteg it will certainly be worth taking your time; you’ll want to look at the glaciers and tell them how the mountains were formed. As you suggest you could stay at one or other of the huts. They might want to have a paddle in the lake!!  Do let me know how you get on. If you children want to contribute to the website with their experiences I’m sure that can be arranged!

Best wishes

Stephen Rabone

In July 2004 Bob Dallon wrote

HHello steve!

II'm really glad that I found your site...........it's been just what I need to get going on the Alpine Pass Route. I hope you have the opportunity to answer soon as we are leaving on the first week of August..........

First off, we are tenting . So, the option of setting up at the huts has our interest. We did that in the French Alps with great success. Does that sound reasonable?Also,do they have showers at most huts?Would they welcome us for meals? Hot water?Would there likely be a fee for setting up tents there?

Second, is there an advantage that you are aware of in going from west to east?.........or in going from east to west? We are flying in to Bern so we are planning on the mid section of the trail but are open to other options.

Thanks so much...........I'm Bob from U.S.A.  my wife, my daughter(16) , my son and his friend(20) are ready to spend 12 days on the trail. We do alot backpacking in the States and would like any suggestions from you about the best section and direction to spend that time.

Thanks again, Bob

I replied

Dear Bob

I’ll try to answer your questions.

1)      I’ve no experience camping. However, everything I’ve read suggestions that if you camp away from habitation and do so discretely you will have no trouble. I  would think that it may be acceptable to camp near the huts but you will need to ask. You should certainly be able to get meals as they are open to casual day walkers for meals. I suspect an offer to pay to camp would meet with a more positive response than just asking to camp free of charge!!

  2)      I can’t think of any particular reason to walk in either direction except that by walking east to west you will be walking “into” the sun, which is generally more pleasant than have the sun on your back and neck. If you are walking the whole way I think you’ll find arriving at the last pass above Lac Leman (Lake of Geneva) much more satisfying and exhilarating than the way it will fizzle out at Sargans. Personally I think east to west is the best way.

  As you’re only doing the middle section I presume you’ll start by get the train to Altdorf and then the local bus to Attinghausen followed by the cable car up to Brusti. I suggest you do not walk up this section but take the cable car. Probably the best place to finish the walk will be at Adelboden or Lenk. This means you’ll have climbed the Surenenpass, Jochpass, Grosse and Kleine Scheidegg, Sefinenfurke (sometimes spelt Sefinenfurgge), Hohturli, Bunderchrinde and Hahnemoospass. These are the “exciting” passes surrounded by the really high mountains. You may wish to take the Eiger Trail up from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg rather than the way described on the APR website. Look at the Grindelwald section of my More Swiss Walks website

  I’d suggest that you have a rest day break in Grindelwald and Kandersteg and also remember that you are pretty high up and may need a little time to get used to the altitude so don't rush the first days walk. Don’t be reluctant to use the cable cars to get up/down the boring parts of the walks which are generally through forests. We did this out of Attinghausen, Engelberg and Lauterbrunnen as well as down into Meiringen.

  Please let me know how you get on as I keep being asked the question about camping and I’d like to be able to report what people actually experienced.

  Good Luck


In September 2004 Bob Dallon wrote after walking and camping most of the APR

Hi Steve !
Sorry Itook so long to respond ............we've been busy since we returned home.
We had a fabulous time during our 13 days in the Bernese Alps. As you know we planned to carry and sleep in tents and we wondered beforehand if that would work out. It did and it didnt. Two years ago we backpacked a route in France called " Tour de l'oisans". It was  approx 11 days and it allowed us extraordinary mountain tent sites at the huts ( refuges) and also good campgrounds in the towns. On the Alpine Pass Route it was towns only and we found the towns pleasant enough but almost all were overly touristy for our taste. Also the tent spaces in the campgrounds were not rustic or with good at asthetics but simple spaces between the travelling motor homes. We walked every step between Gstaad and Meiringen except the distance between Murren and Lauterbrunnen ( pouring rain ! ). After arriving in Meiringen we chose to set our tents at the high village of Goldern at Hasliberg and take day hikes in that area. That was beautifull !  Thanks so much for your help and interest,

Bob Dallon

I replied
I think this letter gives an interesting perspective on camping on the APR. I suspect, after reading bob's comments, that camping is not the best way for accommodation on this route. Has anybody else a different view?

In October 2006 we received this fascinating email about Peter Webb's experiences

After walking a fair slice of the APR in July 2004 with my brother and our respective two elder sons I would like to say that I found your website really useful as an addition to Kev Reynolds' (mostly) invaluable guide book. I would like to share with you and those visiting your website some of our experiences and make some observations which I hope others may find useful. Some points are warnings, some are suggestions and some are simply observations. I leave it to you to decide whether to post any or all of them.
1.    We started at Attinghausen, after travelling via Zurich airport. The guard at Zurich Hauptbahnhof didn't know how to get to Altdorf and we ended up, on his advice, "changing" trains along the way by getting off one train and then getting back on after being then told we were on the right train after all, losing our seat in the process! It's worth making sure you know how to get to your destination before you set off. Not even the wonderful Swiss travel system is perfect!
2.    We stayed in your recommended hotel in Attinghausen and were met by a lovely couple who didn't speak a word of English. Somehow we managed to to communicate in our pigeon-German, although gave the landlady a shock when we asked for breakfast at 6.30 am. We'd forgotten that in German, half past the hour is expressed as half to the next hour. Half past seven is therefore "halb acht" not "halb seben"! Do be careful when not in the main tourist parts. Not all the Swiss speak English, so at least a little German helps!
3.    We started on July 11th by getting the small cable car up to Brusti, by which time it was raining. It then started to snow and by the time we were 1500 ft below the pass, we had a complete white out. We managed to get to the pass using map and compass, but got very cold in the process of going over the top because we took a long time to get around the large snow drift on the saddle. The drift was passable by going right, up the steep slope and around the end. Going left looks easier, but it gets far too steep very quickly. There is a shelter on the other side of the pass, so we could have a rest and warm up, but we were shattered by the experience. Be ready for bad and very cold weather, even in summer, and take bearings while the pass is visible from below. In snow, even the well marked paths can disappear.
4.    Bad weather meant that we left Meiringen on the third day in rain, with not much prospect of better weather that day. We therefore "bottled out" of some the walking. We got the funicular to the Reichenbach falls (which I don't think Kev Reynolds even mentions, although I may be wrong), which were great. We then walked up to the road from the falls and got the post bus up the valley. We decided that instead of going over Grosse Scheidegg, we'd cut across to First and get the gondola down. This is (or would be in nice weather) a lovely walk, with the Wetterhorn as a backdrop to the view across the pass. In heavy rain, take shelter in the front part of one the mountain huts. Most seem to be unlocked, but make sure you leave them clean and tidy.
5.    We had a rest day the next day and took the train to Thun and the boat back to Interlaken. Thun is lovely (especially the castle), but don't bother with Interlaken.
6.    The next day, instead of walking over Kleine Scheidegg, we took the gondola up from Grindelwald Grund to Mannlichen. We then walked down to Kleine Scheidegg, across the front of and below the Eiger Glacier and cut down the very steep mountain path to the Trummelbach falls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, thus missing out most of the really touristy bits. We then got the cable car up to Murren. If time allows, go into the falls. They are really spectacular.
7.    In going from Murren to Griesalp, we took the funicular up to Allmendhubel, which cuts out some of the slog out of the village and gets you up on to the scenic route much quicker - the views back across to the Eiger are wonderful. On the way up to the pass, after the Rostockhutte, we had to climb straight up a snow field - again unexpected in July, but quite an experience. Beware of excitable Americans coming the other way, "skiing" down on their walking boots, while you are slogging up through the snow. Very nice people, but really annoying if they are enjoying themselves, while all you can see is the backside of the person in front as you battle upwards, digging footholds in the snow!
8.    When you get to the top of the Sefinenfurke don't be surprised that there doesn't seem to be a way down. You have to look over the edge to find the wooden staircase! And don't slide your hand along the steel cable when descending. I used up most of my antisceptic wipes and plasters dressing the fingers on my right hand, after lacerating them on the sharp ends of a cable loop.
9.    We stayed in the hotel in the main "square" in Griesalp, although it didn't seem to matter which room we had booked, as we had virtually the run of the place. Very friendly, but only the daughter spoke English, so we had a few hiccoughs sorting out the accommodation, even though we had booked. This hotel doesn't (or at least didn't) take plastic. We only found that out the next morning when we came to settle the bill. Luckily we had plenty of cash between us, but as the nearest bank is about 2 hours away, I don't know what we'd have done otherwise!
10.    Because of the snow on Hohturli (which we could see from Sefinenfurke Pass the day before) we decided not to go up that day. Instead we had a lovely walk down into Keintal and got the bus around to Kandersteg. There is also (as we found out later) a lower pass further down the valley, which takes you across to Kandertal and is a much safer way than Hohturli if the weather is bad.
11.    We had a rest day at Kandersteg and because we hadn't come over Hohturli the day before, we took the chairlift up to Oeschinensee and walked up onto the path on the mountain ledge over the lake. This has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. We sat for about an hour just watching the walkers on the mountain paths on the other side of the lake coming down from the Blumlisalphutte. The weather by now was wonderful, as were the Feldschlossen Dunkelpearl beer and  Stracciatella ice cream (neither of which sadly are available in England as far as I know).
12.    The Bunderchrind pass to Adelboden was one of our favourites, although we got there by taking the cable car to Almenalp and going straight up the valley before turning left up to the ridge, rather than walking all the way from the village. It's quite a long trek down to Adelboden from the pass, so it's a bit of disappointment to find that the village is a fair way up the other side of the valley when you get there!
13.    It's worth looking at the various alternative routes over to Lenk. We walked south out of the village, climbed up to the ridge to the west and walked along to the pass, which gave us some great views. We can also thoroughly recommend the hobelkase at the restaurant at the pass. If anyone knows where we get hold of a real hobel (cheese plane) in England I'd be delighted to hear.
14.    There are again alternatives when going from Lenk to Gsteig, although all routes lead over the second pass, the Chrinepass. Don't believe tales of this one being easy. When it's been wet and is then hot, the paths are very slippy and the climb is really strength sapping in the humidity. In our case however, we had the wonderful experience of being serenaded by an alpenhorn when we got to the top.
15.    Gsteig was closed!! Luckily we'd booked in advance, but people arriving just before us were turned away from our hotel and the only other one we saw was closed that night. I think they ended up going to Gstaad.
16.    We finished our trek at Col des Mosses, after a really sapping walk in the heat. We arrived at the hotel and collapsed, ready for a beer. Unfortunately, the hotel didn't seem to have heard we were coming, so didn't have any rooms left. Fortunately, I had taken with me a print out of all our hotel booking confirmations, so I could prove we had booked. Amazingly, they simply apologised and opened their other other hotel down the road for us (which was closed in summer) and gave us dinner free of charge!
While this sounds like a catalogue of minor disasters, I ought to say that the whole experience was fantastic and I am looking forward to doing it again, with my younger son this time. Part of the fun was not sticking to the exact route, but finding our own way sometimes. I would thoroughly recommend that anyone who is not too serious or purist about the APR, should look on the whole trip as an opportunity just to enjoy the pleasure that is Switzerland. We can't claim to have "walked the APR" in the true sense, but we can say that we backpacked about 100 miles of fabulous country, met some lovely people and experienced every type of weather from blizzard to blistering sunshine.
I hope some of this helps others doing the APR.
Peter Webb
I replied

Thanks very much for your email and the fascinating insights into tackling the walk during poor weather conditions. We were in Switzerland in early August when the weather was pretty awful - heavy rain, snow quite low down on the mountains and low temeperatures. We stayed in Andermatt for a week and one evening at 8.00pm the temperature was 2 degrees Celsisus on the balcony of our flat. It really is important to be aware that even in high summer the weather in Switzerland can be truly appalling, and often for days on end.  Be prepared to change your plans as both we, and Peter did.