That time of the year again. To plan the next year mountaineering activities in the Swiss Alps. For 2021 I have three mountaineering goals:

  1. To be comfortable enough on high Alpine tours to summit a 4000er at the end of the season without a guide (might still take one with me)
  2. Do at least two overnight tours on a tent
  3. Complete a K4 level via ferrata with at least 250 m ascent

1. How I plan to be comfortable to summit a 4000er without a guide

Allalinhorn summit
View from top of Allalinhorn, looking towards Strahlhorn direction

As the season for 4000m+ mountains is somewhat short at my current skill level, it would be unrealistic to plan for more than four of these mountains for 2021, and I plan to start with a weekend long glacier course to learn the basics properly. This should give me good level of experience and familiarity to hopefully be comfortable to make the ultimate tour of 2021 without professional guidance.

In addition to these 4k peaks, I plan to have one or two weekend trips with 2500-3000m peaks and hopefully quite a few day trips to various mountains reachable on public transport.

My alpine touring plans for 2021

The 4k+ mountains I have planned for 2021 are all relatively easy ones, and accessible. I plan to start with probably the easiest of them all, Breithorn, very accessible from the Klein Matterhorn, itself reachable by a cable car. This tour is basically to test the equipment and also the season to summit Breithorn is longer (actually around the year), whereas organized tours to other ones commence only mid, late June.

Second and third mountains, Bishorn and Weissmies respectively, are longer and more physically demanding ones. Here I don’t want the equipment (or me) to have any teething challenges anymore. These are both tours with two legs: first a hike with lots of ascent to a hut, and the actual summit then on the 2nd day (with also quite a few meters to ascent).

The main tour will be Strahlhorn. Here the challenge is the long summit day, I believe the wakeup call will be around 3 am.

Interesting to see if I do get all these completed, and if I find the time for all. The middle ones are intentionally a bit similar ones, in case I need to skip one of them (I believe higher rating on Weissmies is due to few more challenging bits, including easy climbing, but otherwise those are technically and physically similar).

PeakAltitudePlannedGradeAscentStarting PointLink to post
Breithorn (Western Summit)4,164JuneF415Klein Matterhorntba
Bishorn4,153JulyF1560+895Zinal & Cabane de Tracuittba
Weissmies4,017AugustPD+1220+1138Saas-Almagell/Almagelleralp & Almagellerhüttetba

Hikes from mountain huts to summits

Windegghütte near Gadmen

In addition to high Alpine tours, I plan to prepare for three one or two night hiking tours to 2500-3000m summits, with as scenic walks in and out as possible and complete one or two depending on the weather and schedule. Places I have in mind are: Piz Terri from Terri hut, Calanda (Haldensteiner) from Calanda hut, and Spitzmeilen from (you guessed it) Spitzmeilen hut.

Piz Terri I believe is not possible as a one night trip, but Calanda and Spitzmeilen will be, and all are squarely hikes, not alpine tours.

PeakAltitudeGradeAscentStarting pointLink to post
Calanda (Haldensteiner)2,805T31530 + 750Churtba
Piz Terri3,149T4tbcPuzzatschtba

I hope at least one of these will materialize, but I am pretty sure I need to prioritise and vote will go to alpine tours.

There is not much story behind why these, except they look promising, and Piz Terri is genuinely in the middle of the Alps, very difficult to reach, which sounds great.

Day trip summits

There are heaps of interesting summits that can be reached relatively easily from Zürich with public transport and make it back home for the evening. I constantly try to keep collecting these in a list and then select according to weather on the day.

There is no point for me to strictly plan for these as these can be very ad hoc and 100% weather dependent, I will simply pick these from my list of Mountains reachable on a day trip from Zurich HB.

2. Sleeping in a tent in the Swiss Alps

Wild camping has been on my radar for quite some time already. The challenge has been to know how to actually do it. The guidance seems to be “anywhere” with a loads of exceptions. But generally it looks like above tree line it is possible and being next to an established location is not an issue. Last summer I saw people camping right next to Säntis and on Fronalpstock.

Tent in the woods
Hopefully a bit more exciting location (and better pitched) next time

So fingers crossed this will be the year my tent sees a bit more exiting locations than backyards and camping grounds.

The plan is to have an easy location first, and on the second round add a bit wilderness to it.

A strong candidate for the first trip on a tent is the aforementioned Fronalpstock. This is due to large, even ground available there, and that it is grass. The tent I have requires few pegs to be used, so I prefer not to get it too challenging first.

The second round I will plan only after seeing how the first night goes.

3. Next level via ferrata

Via ferrata at Brunnistöckli
Suspension bridge at Brunnistöckli via ferrata

Allmenalp via ferrata close to Kandersteg will probably be my target route for 2021. It is rated K4, and has over well above 250m ascent. The steps I plan to take to ensure I am able to complete Allmenalp would be three trips, all should be doable as day trips from Zurich.

First trip, planned when the season opens, is close to Lautenbrunnen area, not sure yet if both Mürren and Eiger-Rotstock is doable in one day as those are opposite sides of the valley, but remains to be seen.

The Eggstätze close to Braunwald is one of the most popular via ferratas of Switzerland, if not the most popular. It is also very easy to reach from Zürich via train. The beauty of this route is that it is long and combines hiking and climbing.

Pinut I selected as while it is rated only K2, it is long, high wall. And also should be reachable on a day trip.

RoutePlannedGradeHeight differenceStarting pointLink to post
Eiger-RotstockJuneK2260Kleine Scheideggtba

2021 planned full?

With these plans 2021 would be full of mountaineering. Will be interesting to see how well these plans hold, as there won’t be too many weekends to spare for bad weather or other commitments.

If 2021 goes as planned, I think I will be nicely on route to my mid term goal to summit the Dom 2022 or 2023.

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