Traverse of Balfrin and Ulrichshorn from the Bordierhütte | Alpinism | Ulrichshorn | Swiss Alpine Club SAC

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Hiking or climbing on routes in alpine terrain requires good physical health, meticulous preparation and technical skills in mountain sports. The routes presented here are undertaken at one’s own risk. If you want to safely practice mountain sports, taking training courses run by experts is highly recommended by the SAC. All the contents of the SAC Route Portal are put together with utmost diligence. However, the Swiss Alpine Club and the authors cannot guarantee that the information provided here is up-do-date, correct and complete. Therefore, the SAC and the authors cannot be held liable for possible errors.

Traverse of Balfrin and Ulrichshorn from the Bordierhütte Ulrichshorn 3924 m

  • Difficulty
    PD, I
  • Ascent
    5–6 h, 1300 m
  • Descent
    2–2:30 h, 850 m

From the Bordierhütte you climb almost to Riedpass and on then take the South Ridge to Balfrin. Then you go back to Riedpass and climb the Ulrichshorn via its North (firn) ridge. Descend to Windjoch and continue to Mischabelhütte.

Route description

Bordierhütte - Riedgletscher

From the Bordierhütte (2886 m), follow the path south until it splits; the right-hand branch leading down to Gasenried. Here turn left and ascend over a small saddle and out onto the northern lateral moraine of the Riedgletscher. Follow the moraine ridge to about 3030 m, then continue along the screes and slabs up to the foot of the Bigerhorn, here level with the glacier plateau at about 3200 m. Contour round onto the glacier.

Riedgletscher - Balfrin

Climb up across the glacier until you reach the foot of a rocky shoulder (P. 3527 m) which descends from the NW summit (P. 3782) of the Balfrin. Here the glacier is severely fractured. Depending on the circumstances, decide here for one of the following: a) If the glacier is snowy enough, climb up the glacier rim near the rocks and continue up southeastwards to reach the upper glacier plateau at about 3400 m. b) Climb the rocks of the shoulder below P. 3527, which are very loose, and re-enter the glacier at about 3420 m. Thereafter, follow the large glacial basin directly to the saddle between Balfrin and P. 3642 (north of Riedpass). This is the foot of the S-ridge (about 3620 m), 2 1/2 hrs. Now climb the partly loose rock and scree ridge up to Balfrin (3796 m), 1/2 hour.

Balfrin - Ulrichshorn

Follow the S-ridge down again and pass P. 3642 on the right (W) to reach the Riedpass via the flattish glacier, 1/2 hour. From Riedpass (3553 m), go over to the foot of the flank, which is very compact. Now climb over the moderately steep firn field to a short firn ridge, which leads to the summit of the Ulrichshorn (3924 m), 1 hr.

Descent

Follow the route of ascent. Or make the descent to the Mischabelhütte: Cross onto the SW-ridge of the Ulrichshorn and descend into the Windjoch, 1/4 hrs. On the SE side of the Windjoch (3847 m), descend the crevassed slope to the Hohbalm Glacier (tricky if icy). Cross this glacier plateau at about 3620 m to the rocky spur of the Schwarzhorn, around which you'll find a path leading to the Mischabelhütte (3336 m), 2 hrs.

Additional information

Departure point
End point
Time

Bordierhütte - Balfrin: about 4:00 hrs.

Balfrin - Ulrichshorn: about 1:30 hrs.

Ulrichshorn - Mischabelhütten: ca. 2:15 hrs.

Waypoints
History

Melchior Ulrich with the mountain guides Johann-Josef Imseng, Franz Andenmatten, Stephan Biner, Johann Madutz and Matthäus Zumtaugwald, 10th August 1848 (N-(firn) Ridge of Ulrichshorns).

Robert Spence Watson, Mrs. Robert Spence Watson with the mountain guides Johann Josef Imseng, Franz Andenmatten and Josef-Marie Claret, July 6, 1863 (S-Ridge of Balfrin).

Neighbor summit

Nadelhorn (4327 m)

From the Windjoch via the Northeast Ridge within 2 hours on the Nadelhorn.

Author

Bernhard Rudolf Banzhaf

Bernhard Rudolf Banzhaf has climbed countless peaks at home and abroad, including all 4000ers of the Valais Alps. He has been organizing trekking trips in the Himalayas and in Europe since the early 1980s. He was a member of the SAC's central committee between 1995 and 2003.

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