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Impressive views of Tschingellochtighorn

Engstligenalp and hikes in the vicinity, July 2006

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.

We discovered the hanging valley of Engstligenalp back in 1982, whilst walking across Switzerland, and it's got a restful environment to tempt the most harried, stressed-out leech-like predatory corporate executive or Israeli war criminal with an environment that's truly "away from it all". Natural beauty in every direction, melded harmoniously with sustainable agrarian economic pursuits (viz., cows), and lots of food.

Here's Kristin taking a little walkabout at Engstligenalp, 8 July 2006. We've only just had time to smile and nod obsequiously at corpulent US TSA goons, trying not to look Islamic at all, and get safely back to Switzerland after our sightseeing in Canada and participation in Marlowe's wedding picnic in Vermont, USA, and here we are at last, already relaxing in the Bernese Oberland.

We've come back to the Berghotel Engstligenalp (where we were so happy and well-fed last year), which lies at 1964m at the top of a cablecar and hiking path from Unter dem Birg (1400m), just out the road from the village of Adelboden, Switzerland.

That's the mighty Wildstrubel on the horizon, behind the little outbuilding of the berghotel where we were lodged this year. The narrator cavorted merrily on top of Wildstrubel twenty years ago but now prefers the comforts of the Engstligenalp berghotel and nearby one-day hikes.

From the berghotel, that's a look, 8 July 2006, towards the Ammertenpass, 2443m, last summer's views of which can be seen here.

NOW, 9 July 2006, we're setting out for a day's hike up to the Tschingellochtighorn, along the Engstligengrat, to the Chindbettipass, and hopefully back down again in time for the berghotel's famous double-dinner (a fixed menu, not entirely inspiring, but once you've finished it they come out and ask if you'd like the same again). Here's (from left) Joe, Teny, Kristin, and Jodi. We're waiting for Sir Charles, who's just making sure that everything's put away nicely back in the room.

On the walk up towards Tschingellochtighorn, we look down at the berghotel on the far left, and the télécabine or cablecar that comes up from the valley floor in the centre.

In fact, there's a cablecar just pulling in to the station now.

These are mostly casual literary discussions going on at the moment, but as we get higher the focus will sharpen.

That's our first destination, the rather strange Tschingellochtighorn (2735m). We're planning to pass along the scree field just to the right of the base of the tower and head off towards the far side.

That's Adelboden down there. If you drive up from Spiez on the Lake of Thun, past Wimmis, past Frutigen, you have to choose -- left, you go up to Kandersteg (and the rail tunnel to southern Europe); right, you go up to Adelboden (dead end at Engstligenalp). Both valleys are equally beautiful and well-provided for active tourist getaways.

As we get higher, whilst pausing to take a couple of telephone calls, we snap a telephoto of the Wildstrubel to the west of us.

Everyone else, however, is more interested in taking photographs of Adelboden and trying to think of English words that rhyme with Tschingellochtighorn.

The meadows yield to scree, and the vista expands still further.

Kristin's sandals are much lighter to walk in, and "they let the feet breathe".

Resting our knees just for a moment, and digging out some more of the ibuprofen, or "Vitamin I" as it might be called.

That's the Tschingellochtighorn (which rhymes with "forlorn"), and we're heading up around the right horizon of the scree. There's a rock climber up there somewhere, and we got a couple of sizable rocks rained down upon us as we were teetering along the traverse to the right.

Exceptional views, as we're crossing around the front of the Tschingellochtighorn, at about 2620m.

Hikers converging

Kristin dropping down into the little hollow at the base of the cliffs in front of Tschingellochtighorn, July 2006.

Flashback. Jane and young Deirdre Peck adjusting gear in the same place, July 1982.

And that's the Engstligengrat before us. A "grat" is a long scree-ish ridge, normally with not much shade.

Once on the exposed ridge, it's time for everyone to don the extra layers.

From this col alongside Tschingellochtighorn (which rhymes with "reborn"), a teeny path leads down (far right) towards Kandersteg (as we did in 1982), but today we're headed along the Engstligengrat towards the Chindbetti pass.

Participants are just drifting off with their own agendas.

In another record July for Global Warming temperatures in Switzerland, getting up into a brisk chilly breeze is even better than being Raptured.

A very good hike, with great views in every direction.

Along the Engstligengrat at about 2650m. In that big notch to the centre-left lies the way down to the Gemmipass.

Two other hikers ahead of us, who passed us whilst we were adding layers at the col. The gentleman was smoking a cigarette.

The grat is a fine easy walk, but soon we have to go down again on aging knees.

Taking a scenic pause above the fast-receding glaciers.

Aging knees. Ouch! Ouch! Ooff! Ouch!

A sentinel

Jodi and Kristin descending off of the ridge . . .

. . . as the path leads across the front of the Chindbettihorn (2691m), with some weather coming in on the top of the Wildstrubel.

Kristin's sandals "let the feet breathe" whilst walking about on a hot day.

Time for lunch, somewhat out of the wind under the Chindbettihorn.

Lunch was deliberately meagre, as no one wants to spoil his or her appetite for the berghotel Engstligenalp!

A few more uphills to get us to the Chindbettipass at about 2630m. (Kristin's got boots on now.)

Joe (background) is normally content to watch others' progress with irony, and then catch up to them from time to time.

A little good-humored discussion of where the path goes.


The Blues Brothers at the Chindbettipass (2623m)

Already the smell of dinner on the stove at Engstligenalp (in the distance) is reaching us on the breeze, and calling.

Teny and Joe

Kristin blazes trail for the rest of us. Or rather Kristin smooshes trail for the rest of us.

We have but to follow dutifully.

A wary foot

A lovely path wandering back and forth across the hillsides above Engstligenalp seemingly endlessly.

Teny and Joe under the Chindbettihorn cliffs

Stepping carefully over some predecessor's footprint -- a four-foot deep hole in the snow. The snow beneath the surface melts away near the exposed rocks and grabs your leg if you don't step out smartly.

In recent years, the downhill parts of hikes always take much longer than the uphills.

Kristin with the Wildstrubel summit looming

Somewhat groggy still, and extremely lucky, after a headfirst fall up in the rocks

Out onto the flats now

The hanging valley of Engstligenalp

Tschingellochtighorn from below

Kristin making friends with the Swiss

Everybody else is still in the showers -- Sir Charles is already out on the balcony with Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, impatient to discuss it. Double-dinners are coming up in half an hour.

A lovely early evening

Away from it all, as it were.

Hikers at Unter dem Birg the next day, at the cablecar station at the foot of cliffs, ready to disperse to the four corners of the earth, give or take a few corners.

Making aspirational hiking plans for next summer: Jodi, Joe, Teny, Kristin, Charlie.

The Tschingellochtighorn - Chindbettipass hike at Engstligenalp can be recommended.

Tschingellochtighorn from the Ammertenpass on the far side of the valley, 2005. We'll come back again inshallah, as we can't get enough of the Tschingellochtighorn (which rhymes with "porn"), in fact we're addicted.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 23 August 2006, revised 22 June 2007, 21 July 2013.

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