One of the hikes in Switzerland that left us with the most unforgettable memories in the last few years is clearly the Aletsch glacier panoramic trail (which we did in autumn 2022). Who knows why, even though we didn’t live that far away, it was the 1st time we’d come to admire the biggest glacier of the Alps. Needless to say, it was a sight to behold 🙂
Imagine a 20 km-long glacier tongue with the mythical trio of the Bernese Alps in the background: Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch. A truly breathtaking panorama!
We’d also spotted the beautiful ridge between the Eggishorn and the Bettmerhorn… but at that time, after a long week of hiking, we didn’t have the courage to combine it to the Aletsch glacier panoramic trail (which is already 14 kms long already). So we decided to come back to the area with a crew from Alpiness coliving to redo the panoramic trail and add the ridge between the Eggishorn and the Bettmerhorn to the program 🙂
So let’s us tell you all about it 😉
The UNESCO ridge trail between the Eggishorn and the Bettmerhorn
Better known as the Aletsch UNESCO Höhenweg in German, it’s a high altitude ridge trail (indicated in white-blue-white) that connects the Bettmerhorn to the Eggishorn, offering breathtaking views of the Aletsch glacier.
I guess people call it the UNESCO ridge trail, because it offers a breathtaking panorama of the Aletsch glacier, which itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the Jungfrau region).
The ridge is about 3 kms long and I personally find the trail pretty easy for a white-blue-white… I would say probably difficulty T3. So you need to be okay with using your hands here and there, and you shouldn’t be afraid of heights either… but otherwise for a high-mountain trail it’s pretty manageable and very well equipped (but I’ll put some pictures below so you can get a better idea).
The different ways of doing the ridge trail
So there are several options for hiking this wonderful ridge trail. In our opinion, there are two main ones:
- Do a loop including the ridge trail from Fiescheralp. Here again, there are 2 options, but either way, it’s a good hike (I mean quite long hikes). It’s also the cheapest option, and unsurprisingly the one we chose 😉
- Buy the Aletsch Explorer Day Pass, take the gondola up to the Eggishorn, hike the ridge and take the cable car down from the Bettmerhorn (or vice versa). This is the shortest option, but the day pass still costs €55.
the loop with the ridge trail from Fiescheralp (the option we chose)
As we were all super motivated with the people from the coliving, we decided to combine the Aletsch glacier panoramic trail with the ridge trail between the Eggishorn and the Bettmerhorn. It’s a 20km hike with 1200m of elevation gain and loss. But if that’s too much for you, I’ll share some shorter versions just below.
For information on how to get to Fiescheralp and the panoramic trail, please refer directly to our dedicated blog post.
Here is the map of the hike we did:
As we’ve already shown you, the 1st part of the hike on the panoramic trail is truly spectacular. Leaving the gondola at Fiescheralp, you already have a magnificent view of the Matterhorn, the Weisshorn and the Mischabel range on the other side of the valley. Then, once you’ve reached the spot called “Hohbalm”, the view over the endless Aletsch glacier tongue ( about 20 kms, anyway) opens up. The hike along the panoramic trail is nothing but pure pleasure for the eyes. Judge for yourself:
Then we turn off again towards Lake Märjelen and climb up until we reach the Tälligrat pass. From the pass, this time we carry on up to the Eggishorn gondola instead of back down to Fiescheralp. Above us, an eagle (or so I think) soars majestically before disappearing behind a peak.
Once you’ve reached the Eggishorn gondola, you could head straight for the ridge and the Bettmerhorn… but it would be a shame not to hike the remaining 500m or so to the very top of the Eggishorn (2927m).
We hesitated a bit… but frankly, we didn’t regret making the extra detour. In my opinion, it’s the best view of the Aletsch glacier you can get in the area, and you can literally see the whole Jungfrau glacier from the konkordiaplatz to the end of the glacier tongue. It’s a truly unique sight 🙂 .
After enjoying the view, it was time to head for the ridge. From the Eggishorn summit, we made our way down to the gondola, where the blue trail is clearly indicated on the hiking signs.
We also passed by a funny tiny house with a Jacuzzi (yes, for real): The Aletsch cube… Honestly, I don’t know if it’s really necessary to install a Jacuzzi at 3000m on top of a mountain. I guess it makes for nice Instagram photos and advertising for the region… but for me it doesn’t really belong up there.
From here, a rocky path leads down to the “Elselücke” (2722 m). On the way down, there’s an outstanding view of the ridge we’re about to traverse 😉 .
It’s just beyond this spot that the most difficult part of the ridge path begins. We start a fairly steep ascent in a large scree. You can’t really call it a trail, as you’re going from rock to rock. But don’t worry, there are blue marks every 10 metres, so it’s impossible to get lost 😉 . In addition, all the slightly more difficult sections are well equipped with handrails and stepladders.
Even though it’s a T3 blue trail, at no point did I get the impression that the path was really very exposed. But I’ll let you judge for yourself with these pictures:
Once the climb is over, we keep walking along the ridge all the way to the Bettmerhorn. What a view from up there! It’s fair to say that we saw the Aletsch glacier from every angle that day.
Even though we’re on the ridge, the path is still quite wide and, unlike the Hardergrat, I never felt like I was risking my life if I took a false step 😉 .
Once we’ve passed the Bettmerhorn summit, all we have to do is make our way down to the top of the gondola. The path is steep, but once again well equipped with stairs that make the descent much easier.
After the Bettmerhorn station, we simply pick up where we left off that morning to return to Fiescheralp and complete the loop.
Of course, we’re well aware that 20 kms and 1200m of d+- may not be for everyone. But if you still want to do the ridge between the Eggishorn and the Bettmerhorn from Fiescheralp, you don’t have to add the Aletsch glacier panoramic trail to the program 🙂
From Fiescheralp, you could climb directly to the Eggishorn and then cross the ridge to the Bettmerhorn (or vice versa). This version is actually still 12 kms and around 900m d+-, but it’s quite a shortening of the walk 😉
The ridge trail using the Aletsch explorer day pass
As we explained here, the Aletsch explorer day pass allows you to take any lift/train in the region to easily hike from point A to point B (and then return to your starting point by public transport).
For instance, for the ridge between the Eggishorn and Bettmerhorn, you could take the cable car from Fiesch up to the Eggishorn, hike the ridge to the Bettmerhorn (approx. 3.5 km, 400 m d+-), take the other cable car down to Betten and then take the train back to Fiesch to get back to your starting point. Not bad, eh?
If you don’t have the courage to do a long walking day, we think this pass is an excellent solution at a relatively reasonable price (55€).
Note: The benefit of buying the pass through Civitatis is that you can cancel your purchase up to 48 hours before the activity.
Now I think you know everything about the ridge rail between the Eggishorn and the Bettmerhorn (or UNESCO Hohenweg). I think that between the Aletsch glacier panoramic trail and this slightly more challenging hike, everyone will find an itinerary that suits their level to admire this natural wonder with their own eyes!
We sincerely believe that this is one of the places not to be missed if you’re visiting Switzerland… Especially since, if you’re willing to do a bit of hiking (i.e. away from the Eggishorn and Bettmerhorn gondolas), we found that the trails weren’t that crowded at all. In short, this is one of our Swiss favorites!