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Backpacker Magazine – November 2012

The High Life: Pennine Alps, Switzerland

Dine lavishly in the homeland of huts.

by: Michael Lanza

Hiking in the Pennine Alps (Photo by Michael Lanza)
Hiking in the Pennine Alps (Photo by Michael Lanza)

Problem: You want to experience a classic Swiss trek like the traverse of the Bernese Alps or the Walker’s Haute Route, but you don’t want those routes’ busy trails and crowded huts. Solution: this 50-miler from the village of St. Luc to Zermatt. It has all of the trappings of a life-list Alpine walk—wildflower meadows, sweeping mountain and glacier views, and huts with big-vista decks and beer on tap—without the crush of other trekkers. Bonus: You’ll enjoy a cush hotel night with a hot shower, soft bed, and excellent dinner at a picturesque village mid-trek.

From St. Luc, ride the funicular to Tignousa, then follow signed trails 11 miles via 9,154-foot Meid Pass to the Turtmann Hut ( and spend two nights. On the layover, dayhike from the hut roughly six miles round-trip and 3,600 feet up the 11,844-foot Barrhorn, known as the highest hikeable summit in Switzerland (no technical skills or gear required), for views of 12,580-foot Brunegghorn, 13,625-foot Bishorn, and 14,783-foot Weisshorn. Day three, follow signed trails 13.3 miles to Moosalp via 9,495-foot Augstbord Pass. Catch a short bus ride to the village of Burchen to spend the night in Silence-Hotel Burchnerhof ( On day four, take public transport to connect with the Europaweg (Europe Trail) in Grächen. (Travel by bus to Visp, then take the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn little red train to St. Niklaus, then bus to Grächen.) Pick up the Europaweg across the street from the Swiss Tourism office and follow it 9.9 miles to the Europa Hut ( On day five, continue south on the Europaweg 13.4 miles to Zermatt, savoring jaw-dropping views of the Matterhorn along the way.


Season Late June to late September 

Map Kummerly & Frey Zermatt-Saas Fee ($35;

Get there St. Luc and Zermatt are served by bus and train ( 

Cost/info 50-85 Swiss francs/person/night for room, dinner, and breakfast (reserve three months in advance for July and August weekends);,

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Star Star Star Star Star
Dec 28, 2012

I understood that part of the Europaweg is closed due to the danger of rockfall between Europa Hut and Zermatt. There is a detour but it adds an extra nine miles or so. Is there an alternate detour that makes the total on day five only 13.4?


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