Switzerland: Via Alpina

Sample a 100-mile stretch of the Via Alpina, Europe's first trans-Alps trail, linking ancient paths across 3,500 miles and eight countries.
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Sample a 100-mile stretch of the Via Alpina, Europe's first trans-Alps trail, linking ancient paths across 3,500 miles and eight countries.

Established just five years ago, the Via Alpina is Europe's first trans-Alps trail. This 3,500-mile link-up of local wanderwegs—many of them hundreds or thousands of years old—winds through eight countries along the backbone of, Europe's greatest mountain range.
You'd need more than a year off (not to mention some serious bail-out money) to hike the whole thing—which is why we scoured the route to find its greatest, most mountainous 100 miles. Hiking from the Swiss villages of Adelboden to Altdorf, you'll cross the route's tallest passes, snack on local cheeses and chocolates (so tasty you'll be ruined for life), and have a chance to summit the Monch, a Mount Rainier-like peak and Eiger neighbor that you can climb in an afternoon.
-Mapped by Backpacker Editors

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 160.3

Waypoints

VIA001

Location: 46.493479, 7.560155

Adelboden: Bus station at Adelboden

VIA002

Location: 46.491149, 7.563545

Beginning the climb out of Adelboden to Bunderchrinde Pass.

VIA003

Location: 46.491121, 7.563626

Beginning the climb out of Adelboden to Bunderchrinde Pass.

VIA004

Location: 46.491095, 7.56377

You'll climb from town on narrow paved roads, dirt farm roads, and trails.

VIA005

Location: 46.489625, 7.566323

Hang a left at this intersection.

VIA006

Location: 46.492437, 7.57663

Chalet

VIA007

Location: 46.492162, 7.576867

Dennis Lewon

VIA008

Location: 46.488864, 7.58121

VIA009

Location: 46.486573, 7.585143

VIA010

Location: 46.486127, 7.588275

The Via Alpina is very well-signed.

VIA011

Location: 46.486268, 7.590646

VIA012

Location: 46.488441, 7.595412

Dennis Lewon prepares to hang a left to climb through the woods.

VIA013

Location: 46.488546, 7.597714

VIA014

Location: 46.489053, 7.601767

VIA015

Location: 46.489126, 7.601761

Looking back on Adelboden.

VIA016

Location: 46.490083, 7.60167

VIA017

Location: 46.488086, 7.604526

VIA018

Location: 46.488239, 7.604579

Adelboden

VIA019

Location: 46.485134, 7.614411

VIA020

Location: 46.485115, 7.614529

VIA021

Location: 46.484982, 7.616615

VIA022

Location: 46.484984, 7.616677

VIA023

Location: 46.484986, 7.616755

VIA024

Location: 46.482386, 7.624595

VIA025

Location: 46.482365, 7.624616

VIA026

Location: 46.482343, 7.624632

Our first look at snowy Bunderchrinde pass.

VIA027

Location: 46.48236, 7.625995

Shannon Davis layers up atop 7,825-foot Bunderchrinde.

VIA028

Location: 46.482402, 7.626049

Looking east from the pass

VIA029

Location: 46.482417, 7.62607

VIA030

Location: 46.482459, 7.626124

VIA031

Location: 46.482496, 7.626172

Beginning our descent to Kandersteg

VIA032

Location: 46.48253, 7.626218

VIA033

Location: 46.482583, 7.626285

VIA034

Location: 46.478372, 7.631484

VIA035

Location: 46.476777, 7.630046

Keep an eye out for chamois, a local goat-antelope species with distinctively curved horns.

VIA036

Location: 46.482674, 7.664895

28-OCT-09 18:31:29

VIA037

Location: 46.495216, 7.67174

Rail station at Kandersteg

VIA038

Location: 46.494862, 7.674015

Kandersteg

VIA039

Location: 46.495449, 7.674406

Hang a right near this hotel in downtown Kandersteg.

VIA040

Location: 46.493409, 7.700471

The Via Alpina is marked by a #1 logo.

VIA041

Location: 46.497611, 7.714639

Berghaus by the stunning lake

VIA042

Location: 46.497883, 7.715138

First view of the lake

VIA043

Location: 46.498045, 7.715471

The path tracks long the left shore.

VIA044

Location: 46.498281, 7.715814

VIA045

Location: 46.498333, 7.716694

VIA046

Location: 46.502587, 7.72385

Just past the lake, you'll start gaining some serious elevation.

VIA047

Location: 46.502602, 7.723989

VIA048

Location: 46.504334, 7.727809

VIA049

Location: 46.509477, 7.736998

Navigating through a boulderfield.

VIA050

Location: 46.509484, 7.737234

VIA051

Location: 46.508229, 7.740029

VIA052

Location: 46.508916, 7.74431

VIA053

Location: 46.508893, 7.744406

VIA054

Location: 46.508336, 7.751053

VIA055

Location: 46.508362, 7.751225

Hanging glaciers on the opposite side of the valley.

VIA056

Location: 46.508395, 7.751402

VIA057

Location: 46.508923, 7.753279

VIA058

Location: 46.508934, 7.753336

VIA059

Location: 46.509286, 7.754236

Climbing toward Hohturli, the highest pass on the Via Alpina at 9,114 feet.

VIA060

Location: 46.511582, 7.759216

VIA061

Location: 46.512356, 7.760768

VIA062

Location: 46.512401, 7.761004

VIA063

Location: 46.511888, 7.767769

First clear view of Hohturli pass.

VIA064

Location: 46.511873, 7.76787

More impeccable signage

VIA065

Location: 46.511862, 7.767956

Kelly Bastone on her way to Hohturli.

VIA066

Location: 46.511301, 7.770225

Descending toward Griesalp, using the fixed hand-line for support.

VIA067

Location: 46.512937, 7.771107

The sun setting on a ridge to the east.

VIA068

Location: 46.528871, 7.77257

VIA069

Location: 46.53046, 7.771845

VIA070

Location: 46.534451, 7.769823

The Via Alpina passes through a small farm just outside of Griesalp.

VIA071

Location: 46.547173, 7.761146

Don't Blink: The village of Griesalp is nothing more than a few hotels and cottages.

VIA072

Location: 46.547528, 7.761639

Griesalp: Interesting post bus ride. It's the steepest road serviced by bus in all of Europe.

VIA073

Location: 46.547535, 7.761787

VIA074

Location: 46.548472, 7.766562

Dennis Lewon hiking out of Griesalp.

VIA075

Location: 46.537954, 7.796279

Access the trail to the pass just behind a small collection of shepherd huts.

VIA076

Location: 46.53785, 7.796538

Dennis Lewon climbing toward the pass

VIA077

Location: 46.532759, 7.809774

VIA078

Location: 46.5324, 7.812684

Shannon Davis

VIA079

Location: 46.531521, 7.813028

Our first view of the Eiger (peak on the left) as we crest Sefinenfurgge Pass.

VIA080

Location: 46.537226, 7.819777

VIA081

Location: 46.537639, 7.820292

VIA082

Location: 46.537934, 7.820678

VIA083

Location: 46.538466, 7.821396

VIA084

Location: 46.540912, 7.823702

Stay straight. Another route (to Rote Hard) branches off to the left.

VIA085

Location: 46.542156, 7.824841

VIA086

Location: 46.542789, 7.825656

VIA087

Location: 46.545971, 7.832441

VIA088

Location: 46.544761, 7.837134

Rotstockhutte, an alpine hut with 52 bunks is open from June to October.

VIA089

Location: 46.545344, 7.854538

View across Lauterbrunnen Valley. Hanging glaciers often crash down the steep walls.

VIA090

Location: 46.548826, 7.874

Creek crossing. Just past here, look for a trail to the left leading to a small collection of cheesemaker's huts.

VIA091

Location: 46.551217, 7.881821

VIA092

Location: 46.558329, 7.891295

Muerren-CableCar

VIA093

Location: 46.558329, 7.891595

Village of Murren. Keep hiking to Lauterbrunnen or get a room at the Eiger Hotel.

VIA094

Location: 46.559491, 7.892373

Left turn.

VIA095

Location: 46.565342, 7.897883

View point near train station.

VIA096

Location: 46.598381, 7.907892

Rail station in Lauterbrunnen

VIA097

Location: 46.598395, 7.908064

Camping Jungfrau, a great place for trekkers. There are bunks and a community kitchen. camping-jungfrau.ch

VIA098

Location: 46.575324, 7.937493

The best lunch break ever, halfway between Lauterbrunnen and Kleine Scheidegg.

VIA099

Location: 46.575589, 7.947621

View of the Eiger.

VIA100

Location: 46.584951, 7.961526

Kleine Scheidegg, a beautiful mountain pass at the base of the Eiger. Hop the train here to Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe, or keep hiking to Grindelwald. Or stay awhile--there are restaurants and hotels here too.

VIA101

Location: 46.584947, 7.961601

Jungfraubahn

VIA102

Location: 46.548, 7.98749

Jungfraujoch, the highest train station in Europe and the Aletsch Glacier

VIA103

Location: 46.548029, 7.98779

Bust at a rail stop on the Jungfraubahn

VIA104

Location: 46.548974, 7.996159

Hiking to the base of the Monch.

VIA105

Location: 46.549149, 7.996404

Hiking from Jungfraujoch to the base of the Monch.

VIA106

Location: 46.549904, 7.997854

Looking back at Jungfraujoch

VIA107

Location: 46.552578, 8.00265

Rope up

VIA108

Location: 46.552589, 8.002939

Roping up to attempt the Southeast Ridge.

VIA109

Location: 46.555157, 8.002617

Shannon Davis kicking steps.

VIA110

Location: 46.555924, 8.001781

Looking back at Jungfraujoch.

VIA111

Location: 46.556942, 8.001008

Southeast ridge of the Monch

VIA112

Location: 46.558034, 7.999249

Summit ridge, The Monch

VIA113

Location: 46.558137, 7.998884

Descending the summit ridge

VIA114

Location: 46.558255, 7.998487

Descending the summit ridge

VIA115

Location: 46.558447, 7.997746

Summit cornice.

VIA116

Location: 46.558506, 7.99751

John Harlin on the summit of the Monch.

VIA117

Location: 46.558528, 7.99736

Summit of the 13,474-foot Monch, a peak that lies in between the Eiger and the Jungfrau.

VIA118

Location: 46.584464, 7.962218

Dennis Lewon in front of the Eiger

VIA119

Location: 46.584343, 7.962314

Executive Editor Dennis Lewon with the Eiger behind him.

VIA120

Location: 46.585368, 7.96129

Kleine Scheidegg

VIA121

Location: 46.624169, 8.033924

Rail station in Grindelwald

VIA122

Location: 46.675885, 8.133974

Schwarzwaldal

VIA123

Location: 46.713694, 8.186944

Schwendi1

VIA124

Location: 46.727367, 8.184759

Meiringen Train Station

VIA125

Location: 46.705599, 8.2295

Innertkirchen

VIA126

Location: 46.727356, 8.263454

Near Underbalm, the contours of the Wetterhorn come into glaring clarity as the team moves further into Meiringen. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA127

Location: 46.755299, 8.305106

Camp

VIA128

Location: 46.754975, 8.305922

Kristin Hostetter tests the Sierra Designs LT Strike 2. The Wetterhorn sets the perfect backdrop. (Anthony Cerretani)

VIA129

Location: 46.755505, 8.305836

VIA130

Location: 46.766853, 8.315191

Snow melts below treeline along the valley route. (Anthony Cerretani)

VIA131

Location: 46.767176, 8.315749

VIA132

Location: 46.774995, 8.327336

Anthony Cerretani works his way towards Meiringen.

VIA133

Location: 46.777441, 8.333431

L off Via Alpina

VIA134

Location: 46.778837, 8.337848

VIA135

Location: 46.775788, 8.344288

Beer

VIA136

Location: 46.775444, 8.344556

Overnight in Engstlenalp

VIA137

Location: 46.775876, 8.36184

VIA138

Location: 46.778361, 8.386778

JochChairTop

VIA139

Location: 46.778695, 8.387759

Joch Pass

VIA140

Location: 46.783194, 8.391366

Kristin Hostetter and Jon Harlin work their way above Trubsee lake. Rigidalstock, and Wissberg mountains can be seen in the distance. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA141

Location: 46.783484, 8.391575

Anthony Cerretani, Kristin Hostetter, and John Harlin work their way up to Jochpass. In late October, snow started appearing at around 6,000 feet. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA142

Location: 46.790917, 8.387722

JochChairBase

VIA143

Location: 46.792299, 8.395234

Trubsee lake

VIA144

Location: 46.792803, 8.395185

Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter takes in the sites from the Trubsee lake as the team gets ready for the push up to Jochpass. (Anthony Cerretani)

VIA145

Location: 46.793006, 8.395911

A view of Trubsee lake. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA146

Location: 46.793625, 8.398876

Engelberg-GondolaTop

VIA147

Location: 46.807756, 8.40055

The Gasthaus Gerschnailp in Engelberg. The team awoke to the sound of cowbells echoing through mountains at 4,139 feet. (Anthony Cerretani)

VIA148

Location: 46.812778, 8.392696

Expensive gondola

VIA149

Location: 46.816083, 8.396361

Engelberg-GondolaBase

VIA150

Location: 46.819416, 8.403082

Rail station in Engelberg

VIA151

Location: 46.83544, 8.546015

VIA152

Location: 46.836354, 8.545636

VIA153

Location: 46.836413, 8.545593

From left, John Harlin, Kristin Hostter and Anthony Cerretani recharge for the descent down the south side of Surenenpass. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA154

Location: 46.836512, 8.545549

Pass (Jon's Photo)

VIA155

Location: 46.836512, 8.545625

VIA156

Location: 46.836908, 8.546215

As the sun begins to set, John Harlin takes in the view from the south side of Surenenpass at 7516 feet. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA157

Location: 46.837011, 8.547782

Anthony Cerretani postholes his way towards Surenenpass. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA158

Location: 46.838163, 8.553221

VIA159

Location: 46.838369, 8.553736

VIA160

Location: 46.842713, 8.561332

John Harlin pushes towards snowy, postholing ground. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA161

Location: 46.843726, 8.569229

VIA162

Location: 46.843744, 8.569508

VIA163

Location: 46.843976, 8.577488

Angistock peak, on the way to Surenenpass. In late October, snow started appearing at just about 6,000 feet. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA164

Location: 46.844064, 8.578163

Snow starts appearing more frequently along the path to Surenpass. Angistock peak looms in the background.

VIA165

Location: 46.844115, 8.578354

John Harlin and Kristin Hostetter on the trail to Surenpass.

VIA166

Location: 46.845304, 8.585739

Gear Editor Kristin Hostetter and Contributing Editor John Harlin.

VIA167

Location: 46.843802, 8.591781

Backpacker.com editor Anthony Cerretani works his way up the trail.

VIA168

Location: 46.843513, 8.593733

Snowy, rocky peaks line the horizon.

VIA169

Location: 46.843433, 8.594002

Anthony Cerretani takes in the view on a set of natural steps on the route.

VIA170

Location: 46.843249, 8.598009

John Harlin makes time. Oberalpstock and Piz Tgieschen peaks can be seen to the southeast. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA171

Location: 46.843231, 8.5981

Backpacker editor John Harlin leads the way.

VIA172

Location: 46.843356, 8.598449

Backpacker editor John Harlin leads the way.

VIA173

Location: 46.843356, 8.599065

A view of the Angistock peak hovering at over 9,000 feet. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA174

Location: 46.843689, 8.60207

Backpacker editors Kristin Hostetter and John Harlin make their way up the trail. Angistock peak hovers in the background.

VIA175

Location: 46.84327, 8.605906

Backpackerc.com Editor Anthony Cerretani gets moving. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA176

Location: 46.843168, 8.606415

At the trailhead in Grat. Time to head up to snowy 7516-foot Surenenpass. (Anthony Cerretani)

VIA177

Location: 46.843117, 8.606662

At the trailhead in Grat. Time to head up to snowy 7516-foot Surenenpass. (Anthony Cerretani)

VIA178

Location: 46.842961, 8.60693

Top of bahn (Jon's Photo)

VIA179

Location: 46.842956, 8.607005

At the trailhead in Grat. Time to head up to snowy 7516-foot Surenenpass. (Anthony Cerretani)

VIA180

Location: 46.845986, 8.616414

A view of the town of Altdorf from the seat of a Gondola. It would rise some 3,000-plus feet. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA181

Location: 46.847102, 8.617358

A view of the town of Altdorf from the seat of a Gondola. It would rise some 3,000-plus feet. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA182

Location: 46.848393, 8.618388

A view of the town of Altdorf from the seat of a Gondola. It would rise some 3,000-plus feet. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA183

Location: 46.856967, 8.622607

The team jumps a gondola near Attinghausen and heads to the trailhead. (Jonathan Dorn)

VIA184

Location: 46.861453, 8.62916

Attinghausen bus stop

VIA185

Location: 46.875716, 8.631772

Altdorf Train Station

VIA186

Location: 46.875741, 8.631831

Altdorf Train Station

VIA187

Location: 46.875686, 8.631842

A view from the Altdorf Train Station. (Jonathan Dorn)