One of the best things of Swiss summer is the opportunity to see glaciers. During winter and spring, glaciers and the area around them are covered in thick snow and it’s not easy to appreciate them: you can only see white shapes, not much else, in case you’re lucky enough and there isn’t fog above the glacier too… In autumn, many hiking trails close early when the snow starts falling in the higher altitudes, so the chance to see the glaciers is very little. Summer is definitely glacier season!
In my previous post I showed you the first part of a two-day adventure that included spending a night in Gaulihütte. The hike to reach the Hütte was short and very hard, but also very rewarding! It was the first night I spent in the mountains. And it was also the first time I could see a sunrise in the Alps! In a Hütte, breakfast is served early in the morning (the latest at 7:30), and we went to bed very early the previous day too (21:45), so it wasn’t a problem to wake up early, in time to see the sky turn into a beautiful palette of soft orange and pink tones. After that, we had breakfast and started early the hiking day. We left behind the beautiful Gaulihütte and headed to the Gauligletscher.
Gauligletscher is a glacier in the Bernese Alps. In 2005 it was 6.2km long, although it has shrunken a lot (if you look in Google maps, the ice tongue reached the glacier lake, but you can see in the photos below that it’s far from it now). It’s still an impressive sight! This glacier is famous because in 1946 a US Dakota C-53 crashed in the glacier. The rescue of the crew and passengers was the world’s first rescue in the high mountains by air.
Once we reached the glacier’s viewpoint, the trail to descend to the glacier lake became an Alpineweg: the path was very narrow and at some point we had to walk on a vertical wall holding a chain and using iron nails attached to the rock to walk along the wall. It was very impressive… and scary!! But once we reached the bottom, we rested at the shores of the turquoise glacier lake, enjoying the magnificent reflections of the glaciers and summits on the water. From there, we walked through a beautiful floodplain full of alpine flowers and ponds and scattered sheep, we crossed a small Tibetan bridge and followed the flowing glacier river until we reached the Ürbach waterfalls. Another mini via ferrata was awaiting there for us: another chain, more iron nails and iron steps took us to the bottom of the waterfalls. Then we followed an easy path to Mattenalpsee and, from there, we descended back to Ürbachtal, where we started the hike the previous day.
It was an impressive two-days hike. Exhausting and challenging, but now I can proudly say that I did my first Alpineweg, which is more difficult than all the previous mountain hikes I’ve done so far. I liked the experience of waking up in the mountains and be able to see my first sunrise in the Alps. I liked it so much that I can’t wait to the next summer for the next two-days hike!
For now, here are the photos I took in this beautiful and unspoiled valley in the Bernese Alps. I hope you like them! 🙂