We headed over to Fiesch by train this morning to visit the mountains that are part of Aletsch Arena. We visited two mountaintops by gondola & aerial tram and also walked between two mid-mountain towns. A fantastic day!
Fiesch up to Fiescheralp
We saw many cut tree trunks on the ground below the gondola. They must have been left over from when this gondola was built.
Despite some high altitude clouds, the weather looked pretty good. We could see some distant peaks.
After about ten minutes or so, we arrived at the upper gondola station at the mid-mountain town of Fiescheralp.
Fiescheralp up to Eggishorn
We next headed to the adjacent aerial tram station for the ride up to Eggishorn. We didn’t get a position by a window for photography.
Eggishorn is the highest point that can be reached at Aletsch Arena by gondola or tram. The station is at around 9500 feet, about 100 feet below the actual summit of Eggishorn.
Our first view after exiting the station was of snow on the ground and so many mountains in the distance. We could also see the valley floor and many mountainside buildings.
We headed towards the viewpoints above the Aletsch Glacier, the longest and largest glacier in the Alps.
To our right we could see the upper portions of the glacier as well as a various viewing platforms and areas. And of course, mountains everywhere!
Looking back towards the aerial tram station, we saw one just as it arrived. There is also a secondary summit next to the building though it doesn’t seem to be accessible to the public.
The actual summit of Eggishorn is accessible by a trail that goes over a small ridge before climbing upwards on a series of switchbacks. Like many other mountains in Switzerland, there is a cross on top, though this one looked pretty tiny in comparison.
We didn’t try to make the hike up as there was snow on the ground, the walk over the ridge seemed a bit sketchy, and I really didn’t want to see how my still recovering from ACL surgery knee would deal with it.
The glacier is huge. Too big to fit in one frame, even with an ultra wide angle lens!
We could even see the Matterhorn! It is about 37 miles away from Eggishorn.
We walked to the next viewpoint, a tad closer to the glacier. It is such an amazing sight, you can’t possibly take too many photos!
This viewpoint was large with amphitheater style seating. We took this opportunity to pull out the telephoto lens to look at some of the more well known mountain peaks. Here is the Matterhorn in all its glory!
It does resemble the image on the Toblerone packaging! Too bad we didn’t think of buying a bar and bringing it up with us, we took this photo at the hotel!
Quite a collection of peaks! Not sure which mountains these are but they are rather impressive.
More or less in the middle of the glacier, we saw the Aletschhorn. A pretty perfect pyramid appearance from this angle!
To the right a bit was Jungfrau, one of the famous mountains of Switzerland. It is only about 10 miles away.
The closest us normal people will ever get to Jungfrau is Jungfraujoch. It is an extremely well developed tourist site. We could see the structures atop the peak as well as many people at the various viewing areas. They are easily visible when viewing the photo at original size.
Another famous peak, Eiger, is on the opposite side of Mönch from Jungfraujoch. It doesn’t really look as impressive as its neighbors from this angle.
Mont Blanc is also visible from Eggishorn when the weather allows. It is about 72 miles away! Like when we visited Chamonix two days ago, the question is, which one is actually Mont Blanc? We think it is likely the distant peak with rounded top at the center of the frame. It is far enough that while it is visible, it is rather hazy.
We also took a closer look at part of the glacier, where two rocky tracks show the gradual motion of the snow and ice as it moves down the mountain.
We then switched lenses back to the wide angle and walked to another slightly closer viewpoint. It looks very similar but there are no people at all in front of us.
We were now at the lowest viewpoint. We decided to head up via a different path that was covered in snow! Luckily, traction was extremely good as we didn’t have any traction devices with us.
Looking back up the glacier, we could see the previous viewpoint that we had just departed from.
At the center of the frame, below the Aletschhorn, is the Mittelaletschgletscher. It previously was directly connected to the Aletsch Glacier but no longer reaches it. Per the glacier’s German Wikipedia page, the connection ended in 1970. Like almost all glaciers on the planet, the ones here are all getting smaller over time. Will future visitors here just see a bunch of dirt?
We once again pulled out the telephoto lens to get a closer look at some of Aletsch Glacier’s features. It is hard to really have any sense of scale with something so massive as a glacier, particularly when viewing it from afar.
Eggishorn down to Fiescheralp
We were able to get some photos on the way down! The aerial tram was much less crowded!
The tram is pretty fast and only takes a few minutes to make the trip.
Fiescheralp to Bettmeralp
After returning to Fiescheralp, we started walking to Bettmeralp, a distance of about 2.5 miles and mostly downhill. We took a few photos of the town as we walked through it. It is essentially all restaurant and lodging facilities.
Of course, we took a look back up the mountain towards Eggishorn where we just left. It is pretty high up and the true peak cannot be seen.
These two amusing “people” caught our attention!
It is a really beautiful walk, all one a well graded but narrow road. There aren’t too many vehicles that drive by, mostly just small service vehicles and a few bicyclists.
Looking up, we saw the upper gondola terminal at Bettmerhorn, our next destination upon reaching Bettmeralp.
While we saw quite a bit of dry grass, we eventually reached an area that had small plants that had changed to a beautiful red color. We were above the treeline the whole time so we only saw smaller plants around us.
Other than some man-made ponds that are possibly intended for use as a source for snow making, we didn’t see much water other than this one tiny stream that was running down the mountain. It unfortunately doesn’t show up very well in this photo.
Looking uphill, we could see more of the gondola that leads Bettmerhorn.
The road wasn’t steep at all until we reached this point. Concrete was used to provide traction for vehicles going up and down. We didn’t actually meet any vehicles on this portion of the walk.
The scenery changed slowly but surely as we kept on going.
Eventually, we saw a little bit of Bettmeralp in front of us!
Bettmerhorn was looking quite a bit smaller as we got further and further away.
After what seemed like a very long time, we turned a corner and saw all of Bettmeralp!
The gondola station was in front of us! Just a little bit to go!
Bettmeralp up to Bettmerhorn
We passed under the gondola before reaching the entrance to the station.
The gondola slowly ascended along most of the route. It wasn’t until the very end that it climbed rather steeply.
It took perhaps ten minutes or so to reach the upper terminal.
Just like Eggishorn, the actual summit to Bettermerhorn was next to the station. And like Eggishorn, we didn’t attempt to make the journey up to the peak.
The glacier isn’t visible from the gondola terminal. It requires a very short walk to the viewing areas. On the way, we looked back to see the panoramic view restaurant as well as what appears to be an old aerial tram vehicle. Not sure what it is being used for, we didn’t go to take a closer look.
We were able to see all the way down to the valley floor.
Definitely a different view of the Aletsch Glacier compared to Bettmerhorn. We could see much of the lower portion of the glacier but significantly less of the upper portion. We can’t tell exactly where it ends as the snow and ice may be covered by a layer of shattered rock.
We once again used the telephoto lens to get a closer look at the glacier’s surface.
This part near the end looks like a bunch of dirt but some snow is still visible.
We also took a look at the edges of the glacier, where the snow and ice meets the side of the mountain.
It looks like a rock got completely obliterated here!
Bettmerhorn down to Bettmeralp
We didn’t stay too long at Bettmerhorn as it was starting to get late. We headed back to the gondola to begin our trip back down.
One thing we noticed was the extra gondola car that was hanging the uppermost tower before the station. Not sure what this is for. There was another one further down. Another interesting feature is the extra wire above the main wire that holds the gondola cars. Perhaps this is some system that can be used to evacuate the gondolas?
Just like our ride up, we had a gondola to ourselves on the way down and were able to easily take photos.
The walk through Bettmeralp took longer than expected! The gondola station is a little bit of a walk away from the aerial tram that goes down to the valley floor.
Bettmeralp down to Betten Talstation
There was a large queue when we arrived at the aerial tram station for the trip back down. There are actually two options, one that goes direct and another that has a mid-station. We chose the direct path. It turns out that the aerial tram is huge. It easily fit all the people that were waiting plus additional folks that arrived before the scheduled departure time. And it was extremely fast on the trip down to the valley floor.