We set off about 8.30 through Grächen and along the lanes to Gasenried (1659m). From here we turned into the valley of the Riedbach to a small chapel at Schalbettu (1683m). Here the Europaweg path to Zermatt crosses the stream but we headed steeply up hill on a path signposted to Alpja and Bordierhütte. The path climbs unremittingly steeply in zigzags up the slopes of the Platthorn through the Riederwald. Eventually at 1827m it heads south, still climbing, before entering a hanging valley. The path crosses the Riedbach on a bridge at 2030m. 

Thw Riedgletscher from the moraines just above the Riedbach

Here the valley has huge moraines on either side, whilst the valley floor is being slowly colonised by young conifers. The path heads up the west side of the moraine on a firm path to a junction with a link path to the Europaweg. The path south to Alpja runs between the cliffs of the Mittelberg and the moraine, passing the ruins of a farmhouse and a more modern chalet at Alpja (2089m).

The path now starts to climb in earnest up the crest of the moraine. In places it is very steep, although not as difficult to descend as we expected, whilst in other places the moraine walls have been heavily eroded by water. The tongue of the glacier comes down to about 2100m in the valley bottom and is squeezed between some dramatic rock outcrops. 

Looking down the valley showing the path on the crest of the moraine

We stopped for lunch at about 2406m having taken 3 ½ hours from Grächen. The path to the hut continues up to about 2750m before crossing the glacier. We were assured that it is perfectly safe, even for children, to cross without any equipment. However, time was against us – it was another one to one and a half hours to the hut. Clearly the best way to complete this walk is to stay overnight at the hut.  

The Wassweleitung

We returned by the outward route as far as the water channel (Wasserleiting) at 1827m. The channels carry water from the Riedbach at four levels and are 300 years old. They are used to provide water for the farms in this very dry area. The path follows the Wasserleitung as it gradually flows downhill. We left the path at a signpost to z’Seeze to have a drink at the lakeside hotel before returning to Grächen.