"Give me a break!"Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Summer 2005

Engstligenalp and the Ammertenpass


Engstligenalp, unparalleled and unpronounceable home of the wiener-schnitzel-and-a-half

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Engstligenalp is a high, closed, flat hanging valley overlooking Adelboden, Switzerland. We came upon it in 1982 whilst on a long walk across Switzerland, and for the next few years came back from time to time to walk up under the waterfalls for a big lunch at the Berghotel Engstligenalp near the top of the skilift. It's a beautiful place, but . . .

. . . BUT . . . on 13 August 2005 we can't see very much of it. We've come back to sample the wiener-schnitzel-and-a-half again, we've settled nicely into the Berghotel Engstligenalp, and now we're out for a hike around the valley, but where is it?

That's the other hotel up here, the Berghaus Bärtschi, probably very nice, but not ours. That seems to be a garage in front, and it would be a powerful experience to watch somebody try to get an automobile up here. There's no access road, and the trail under the cable car from Unter dem Birg (1400m) to the top station at 1964m is just wide enough for one cow or one-and-a-half humans, all saying "Grützi mittenander" with a jovial grin, or mooing plaintively, depending upon their species.

We're having a nice preprandial hike anyway, but we seem to have seen this farm more than once in our journey.

Fellow hikers poring over a map to no good purpose.

Up above, the Tschingellochtighorn (2735m) peeking in and out of clouds. Jane, Deirdre, and Dwight passed over the right shoulder (2660m) on their Switzerland hike in 1982 (excerpts below).

Kristin finally begins to doubt the wisdom and competence of whomever recommended this place for a holiday destination.

Looks like a farm somewhere out there on the foggy flats of the Engstligenalp, near the headwaters of the Engstligenbach, or creek, before it leaps over the Engstligenfäll to wind its way through the valley of Engstligen to join the Simme near the Lake of Thun, become the Aare wandering all over northwestern Switzerland, and eventually make its small contribution to the Rhine and North Sea.

The dinner gong sounds and promptly Kristin swarms aboard the restaurant of our hotel, with wretched clouds closing us in on every side. The dinner portions seemed somewhat disappointing and we were beginning to grumble semi-ascerbically, until the waitress came along to ask if we were ready to have the whole thing again! To which we agreed at once! And regretted it later!

Historical digression

Marlowe Peck sitting on that very same terrasse in 1985

But now, in August 2005, over after-dinner coffee and still more beer, it's time for a moment of Christian prayer, to get Jesus or Saint Somebody to take care of all this fog and drizzly rain.

And Behold! even before we turn in for the night, there's the Wildstrubel looming over us and prospects for a good hike the next day. Our prayers have been answered, so Hats Off!!, Jesus or St. Whoever!

Dawn (well, 9 a.m.) on 14 August and the view from the hotelroom window up to the cablecar station is heartening.

There's the northeast end of the Wildstrubel across the Engstligenalp, a few small, stray clouds here and there, but otherwise an idyllic, sunny day for hiking!

We're off.

Time to head off across the flat -- we're determined to march vigorously from Engstligenalp at 1960m up to the right (west) to the Ammertenpass at 2443m, which lies conveniently nestled between the Ammertenspitz on the one hand and the Ammertengrat on the other, with, just across the valley, the Ammertenhorn.

Looking back to Engstligenalp as the path crosses a tributary of the Engstligenbach and starts uphill a bit.

Kristin gazing longingly up at the Ammertenpass in the middle of the horizon.

The farm shed of Rossfärich (2013m) and then, as quick as you can say "plod" . . .

. . . we're there at the Ammertenpass.

Kristin notices a wisp of cloud on the horizon and speculates about the possibility of rain later in the day.

We're at the Ammertenpass (2443m), looking over at the southwest end of the Wildstrubel (3243.5m). That's 0.9 meters (35 inches) higher than the northeast end of the thing overlooking Engstligenalp (the Grossstrubel, 3242.6m), and between them lies the Mittl. Gipfel or Middle Summit, which tops out at -- guess! -- 3243.5m.

The narrator and Sherman Wilson barged up the Wildstrubel in 1985, but we came at it from the far side, from the Lac de Tseuzier (1777m) and over the long Glacier de la Plaine Morte at about 2780m and then a pleasant hour's amble to the summit.

Kristin, now that we're here, wants to explore the Ammertengrat a little bit. According to the map, the little rocky summit behind her, between the two glaciers on the Grossstrubel, is called the Früestücksplatz, which looks real close to meaning the "breakfast place".

Meanwhile, as Kristin cavorts and gambols on the Ammertengrat, that cloud that passed by a while ago has summoned its friends, with a view to an easy win.

And there are a few more clouds passing over the Wildhorn off to the west (the glaciery one); coming this way, actually. The knobby thing in the middle is probably the Rothorn or the Mittagshorn, and somewhere just behind that is the Rawilpass, where we had such a nice walk yesterday.

-- Well, I'm ready to go back down whenever you are. (Hint hint.)

And so now, as rainclouds gather, circle, hover, and smirk down at us, we're headed at a slightly accelerated pace back to Engstligenalp, in the left of the photo.

Tschingellochtighorn across the valley. (One admires Deirdre more and more for having schlepped a heavy camping backpack up there at the age of 14.) [Closer views of Tschingellochtighorn, 2006]

The charms of Engstligenalp lie all before us, in a drizzly rain that holds off a bit and seems to taunt us.

Engstligenalp in a downpour, probably enough rain in an hour to keep the Simme, the Lake of Thun, the Aare, and eventually the Rhine and the North Sea supplied for months.

Well, all's wet that ends wet!

More information about the very recommendable Berghotel Engstligenalp can be found at http://www.engstligenalp.ch


Engstligenalp in 1982

An excerpt from our walk across Switzerland

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Friend Jane sets up the teensy tent, as another storm sweeps in, in the high hanging valley of Engstligenalp above Adelboden.

Friend Jane leads up out of Engstligenalp, on Day 7 of the cross-Switzerland hike, over the Tschingellochtig (2640m), high above Adelboden and Kandersteg.

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Just near the Tschingellochtig pass, friend Jane helps young Deirdre with some equipment adjustments.

And hiking near Engstligenalp in July 2006


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 16 September 2005, revised 5 May 2008, 29 August 2014.


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