Via ferrata Kandersteg-Allmenalp Allmenalp 1723 m
- 2:45 h, 350 m
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Set in a spectacular landscape in the Bernese Oberland, the Kandersteg–Allmenalp via ferrata is a direct, route up a 350 metre high wall structured with pillars and gullies; it starts not far from the northern entrance of the Lötschberg tunnel. The route is often exposed and therefore unsuitable for beginners. However, there are a number of ledges where one can relax, watch the trains thundering by on the valley floor and listen to the babbling of the Allmibach waterfalls. The via ferrata was built in 2005 by local mountain guides, assisted by the Köppel brothers: builders of the via ferrata at Leukerbad, the longest and most challenging via ferrata in Switzerland. With 7000 visitors a year, the Kandersteg via ferrata is among the most popular in Switzerland. In 2006 readers of the «Bergsteiger» magazine named it their all-time favourite. In the summer of 2009 a nightly ascent was organised, which was welcomed with a lot of enthusiasm. In June 2020, the new variant "Freude herrscht" will be inaugurated.
Climb a 100-metre-high wall, keeping to the left. The long traverse brings to mind the famous Hinterstoisser traverse on the Eiger north face. Cross the Allmibach on a Nepali style three-rope bridge. A grassy slope leads up to the Swiss flag and route book below a 10 m overhanging roof. This is then overcome with the help of a unique ladder which is twisted 180 degrees. To the left of the waterfall climb up to a ridge behind which the Allmibach flows. Facilitated by ladders, the crux, a long traverse up to the right and around a corner, requires strong arms. A second three-rope bridge (more courageous via ferrata climbers can take the 40-metre long zip-line further up; pulley and brake/retrieving rope available) crosses the Allmibach once more. The last of the group must slow down himself using his gloved hands on the supporting rope or take the bridge. Finally, climb up a partly vertical face to the exit at ca. 1600 m (3 h 10 min). In 20 minutes, hike to Undere Allme (1723 m) to reach the top station of the cableway and the restaurant.
The route is well secured, though there is a distinct lack of artificial steps in places, meaning one must rely predominantly on the movable safety cable for stability, which requires a lot of strength. There are some ladders; one of them is of a twisted construction and helps to overcome an overhanging roof. Two ca. 30-metre-long Nepali style suspension bridges allow crossings of the Allmibach (stream). There is also an optional Tyrollean traverse, which lets you "fly“ over the water (pulley and retrieving rope on site). Another, 110-metre-long zip line leads from the via ferrata to a separate rocky outcrop and back. However, this may only be used in the presence of mountain guides.
The via ferrata is open from the beginning of June until mid-October, as is the Allmenalp aerial cableway (info at 033 675 16 90 www.allmenalp.ch). Make sure that you start in the morning! The via ferrata equipment can be rented from the outdoor stores of Kandersteg and the valley station of the aerial cableway.
Total time 3¾ hrs.
Approach 25 min.
Via ferrata 2¾ hrs, to the summit station 20 min.
From the valley station back to the railway station ¼ hr.
Take the cable car down to the valley and walk back to the railway station. Or descend the hiking trail via Ryharts and Schneitböde (1¼ h).