4 alpine climbing tours for every taste | climbing guide

Various new climbing guides were published at the start of the summer, including "Alpine Klettertouren Band 1", a hand-picked selection of 81 alpine climbing tours in western Switzerland. Co-author Daniel Silbernagel has put together four tours for you: From the practice ridge, to the pleasure tour and the lonely insider tip, to the classic.

A contribution by Bächli Bergsport

In search of experiences and adventures in alpine terrain, Daniel and Michel Silbernagel set out to explore classic but also little-known tour destinations over rocky ridges, pillars and ribs. The result is the climbing guide "Alpine Klettertouren Band 1", a selection guide that presents 81 tours in more detail in the areas of Jura, Friborg and Vaud Alps, in the Chablais and Lower Valais.

“These alpine climbing tours lead you all over the place, over hiking trails, pathless craggy terrain and steep grassy slopes, rock-solid Mont-Blanc granite, sharp-edged limestone, but also passages in crumbling rock.”

Daniel Silbernagel, topoverlag.ch

Many of the tours can be undertaken as a day tour directly from the valley. As a rule, you can do without crampons and ice axes. Climbing in lime, granite or gneiss can usually be experienced with light equipment and in mountaineering or approach shoes. The protection ranges from drilled routes to those that mostly have to be protected yourself.

Tour tip: 4 alpine climbs for every taste

The climbing tours presented are as varied as their surroundings. Daniel Silbernagel has picked out four alpine climbs for you from this wide range, each with its own unique character:

  1. The perfect practice ridge: Holzfluh Westgrat
  2. The absolute pleasure tour: La Dyure - Éperon du Dard
  3. The lonely insider tip: Aiguilles de Darbon – east-west crossing
  4. The worthwhile classic: Balmflue south ridge

Area overview: Alpine climbing tours Volume 1

  • Area overview of the Jura region
  • Area overview Regions Fribourg/Vaud, Chablais and Lower Valais

1. The perfect practice ridge: Holzfluh west ridge

The Holzfluh above Balsthal is a popular vantage point in the Solothurn Jura. No wonder several benches line the ridge with a view of the roofs of Balsthal. Not far from the summit is the Holzfluh hut with a viewing platform.

The west ridge on the 734 meter high Holzfluh is a short ridge above Balsthal, which is perfect for practicing. Image: Topo.Verlag
The west ridge on the 734 meter high Holzfluh is a short ridge above Balsthal, which is perfect for practicing. Image: Topo.Verlag

The area of ​​the Brückenwand with its steep and technically demanding routes is particularly popular among climbers. The 400 meter long west ridge is a classic that has been climbed for a long time. The climb offers a few pitches over short climbs and small rock spikes over a ridge hidden in the forest.

Tour details

  • Valley location / starting point: Balsthal, train station (489 m) or bus stops Balsthal, brewery or Balsthal, center
  • Fuse: good with bolts
  • Rock: Lime, mostly solid
  • ideal season: All year round unless there is snow. Best time spring and autumn
  • Equipment: 25 m single rope, 8 quickdraws, 1-2 slings, (Camalots for practice)
  • Tip: Climbing tour for a mild summer evening followed by a barbecue on the summit.
Hidden in the forest: the west ridge to the Holzfluh Photo: Topo.Verlag
Hidden in the forest: the west ridge to the Holzfluh. Image: Topo.Verlag

2. The absolute pleasure tour: La Dyure - Éperon du Dard

The Éperon du Dard (spur of the spike) is somewhat hidden in the forest above the small connecting road between Les Valettes (Bovernier) and Champex Lac. Climbing over 11 pitches in mostly non-slip, best gneiss is entertaining.

Somewhat hidden in the forest, this climbing tour offers slabs, intersections, scales, cracks and many good small steps. Image: Topo.Verlag
Somewhat hidden in the forest, this climbing tour offers slabs, intersections, scales, cracks and many good small steps. Image: Topo.Verlag

In addition to slabs, there are intersections, scales, cracks and many good small steps. Close by, gnarled trees and colorful flowers adorn the pleasure climbing. Chamois climb over the ridge, and watch out, asp viper poisonous snakes sunbathe on the warm rocks.

The scent of nature in the sun-kissed area is strongly reminiscent of the Southern Alps, the Lac de Champex next to the village of the same name with all its conifers is reminiscent of Canada.

View from above in an environment strongly reminiscent of the Southern Alps. Image: Topo.Verlag
View from above in an environment strongly reminiscent of the Southern Alps. Image: Topo.Verlag

Only on the descent over a small path, well marked with cairns and a few short scrambles, should the previously climbers not dream, because in some places stumbling is not a good idea. Good footwear and concentrated descent help to reach the hiking trail in the small Gure Gorge safely and without slipping.

On the way back to Champex Lac, you can quench your thirst at the Gîte Bon Abri in the small hamlet of Champex d'en Haut and later boost your blood circulation with a swim in the lake.

Tour details

  • Valley location / starting point: Col de Champex, télésiège (1497 m), bus stop or p.s. map
  • Fuse: Good with bra, sometimes a little further distances. It can also be supplemented with slings and camalots.
  • Rock: Granite, solid, in the upper part there are loose rocks in between.
  • ideal season: early summer and autumn. In summer it can get quite hot.
  • Equipment: 50 m single rope, 10 quickdraws, (2-3 slings), (2-3 camalots # 0.4-1.0)
  • Note: The route is not set up for abseiling.
  • first ascent: Joseph Morelli & Olivier Roduit, 2007
The Éperon du Dard boasts mostly non-slip, best gneiss. Image: Topo.Verlag
The Éperon du Dard boasts mostly non-slip, best gneiss. Image: Topo.Verlag

3. The lonely insider tip: Aiguilles de Darbon – east-west crossing

There are only a few tracks on the way up, and if there are, then a small path leads under the north face to the Pas de Darbon, where the entry is located. Here begins the ridge crossing from east to west over the Aiguilles de Darbon.

A worthwhile crossing in a lonely environment: Aiguilles de Darbon. Image: Topo.Verlag
A worthwhile crossing in a lonely environment: Aiguilles de Darbon. Image: Topo.Verlag

At first glance, the rocks seem steep and not very slippery for an alleged 3c. Fortunately, this impression turns out to be a positive mistake. The cracks and rocks are well structured, so that climbing and belaying yourself is easy.

Appearances are deceptive: the rock is well structured and suitable for securing yourself. Image: Topo.Verlag
Appearances are deceptive: the rock is well structured and suitable for securing yourself. Image: Topo.Verlag

Because the impact hooks encountered are sometimes not very confidence-inspiring. Even the few old bolts are preferably supplemented with slings and camalots. After the first three rope lengths, easier terrain follows with a few climbing spots on the ascent and descent to the main summit. Two abseiling points lead back to the foot of the wall.

Tour details

  • Valley location / starting point: Bernex (1022m) / Le Fétiuère P (1206m) see map or Refuge d'Oche on the SW ridge Dent d'Oche
  • Fuse: Older drill and hammer hooks, you have to secure them yourself.
  • Rock: Lime, mostly solid
  • ideal season: summer to autumn
  • Equipment: 30m single rope & 30m rapline, 5-6 quickdraws, 3-4 slings, 4-5 camalots #0.3-3.0
  • Note: Since the rock is often supplemented by grass cushions as steps, the tour should only be undertaken in dry conditions.
  • first ascent: G., R. and A. Neplaz, M. and P. Barone, M. Gavard, October 1938
Aiguilles de Darbon: a historical ridge crossing. Image: Topo.Verlag
Aiguilles de Darbon: a historical ridge crossing. Image: Topo.Verlag

4. The worthwhile classic: Balmflue south ridge

The south ridge on the Balmflue is a classic and one of the longer Jura climbing tours, there are no more wooden wedges. No wonder this has left traces on the limestone rocks. The route does not always follow the natural, logical line, but looks for the best climbing spots and is therefore somewhat inhomogeneous.

Both the approach and the route are marked in green throughout (dots, dashes, arrows) and are equipped with bolts throughout. Where the hook spacing is a little wider, you can also secure it with camalots and slings. The trick is catching a day when there is little going on and the weather is still good.

AK_15_Balmfluh-S-Grat_02
The scenery, walking passages between the rope lengths and every now and then a loose stone give the multi-pitch route an alpine touch. Image: Topo.Verlag

Although already a bit worn, the south ridge is a worthwhile climbing tour over the Mittelland with a magnificent view of the Alps. Arriving at the summit of the Balmfluechöpfli, the view widens to Mont Blanc or the Tödi. The Aare meanders beautifully through the Mittelland on the valley floor.

On the summit ridge there are gnarled trees with cozy fireplaces at their feet. All in all a well-rounded experience and an ideal climbing tour to warm up for the coming climbing season.

Tour details

  • Valley location / starting point: Balm b. Günsberg, village (655 m)
  • Fuse: Bras, slings and camalots can also be placed throughout and very well in the difficult areas.
  • Rock: Lime, mostly solid
  • ideal season: All year round unless there is snow. Best time spring and autumn
  • Equipment: 45–50 m single rope, 10–12 quickdraws, 1–2 slings, (possibly Camalots # 0.5–1.0), possibly climbing finches
A worthwhile classic with a view: Balmflue south ridge. Image: Topo.Verlag
A worthwhile classic with a view: Balmflue south ridge. Image: Topo.Verlag

Alpine climbing tours Volume 1

The book Alpine Klettertouren closes the gap between pleasure multi-pitch climbing and high-altitude tours. It presents 81 alpine climbing tours in Switzerland and the nearby border region at low and medium levels of difficulty. Volume 1 covers the regions of Jura, Chablais, Fribourg/Vaud and Lower Valais.

«Anyone who is looking for perfect rock without exception with short ascents has probably reached the wrong place with this climbing guide. On the other hand, if you like to be out and about in alpine landscapes, wide valleys, mighty mountain backdrops and varied rocky ridges, you have made the choice from the bookshelf.»

Daniel Silbernagel, topoverlag.ch

The routes and ascents and descents of all tours are marked on the national map sections from Swisstopo on a scale of 1:25 and supplemented with additional information. Detailed topos and pictures show the course of the route.

The climbing guide Alpine Klettertouren Volume 1 by Daniel and Michel Silbernagel has been published by Topoverlag.
The climbing guide Alpine Klettertouren Volume 1 by Daniel and Michel Silbernagel has been published by Topoverlag.
Topo Publishing

More new climbing guides from June 2023

Switzerland Extreme West, new edition 2023

With 72 climbing crags in the Bernese Oberland, Friborg and Valais described in detail, this climbing guide offers enough material for climbers with well-trained forearms. The difficulties range from 6a to 9b. 

Extreme West Edition 2023

Switzerland Plaisir West, new edition 2023

The guide describes the most beautiful climbing areas from Friborg through the Bernese Oberland to the popular climbs on the Susten, Grimsel and Furka passes. The routes presented range in difficulty from 3a to 6c.

Plaisir West Edition 2023

Climbing St. Gallen
upland

The guide presents over 60 climbing areas in the region of Amden, Churfirsten, Sarganserland, Alvier and Liechtenstein and impresses with detailed topos, precise information and spectacular images.

Plaisir West Edition 2023

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Credits: Cover image Topoverlag

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