From Brünigpass to Interlaken via Brienzergrat

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Prologue


The vastness of the “Brienzergrat”, I watch it’s mighty peaks every day when I look outside the window at home. In Fall last year I thought about how it would feel to walk the complete ridge from Brünigpass to Interlaken. However, was this even possible for me in only one day? I hike a lot for my photography trips, but I am no athlete.

Eventually, I might have gotten inspired by the Audiobook of David Goggins:

“When your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re only 40 percent done.”

Therefore, it was time to push myself a little further, and this iconic hike made it to my list for summer 2019.

From Brünigpass via Wilerhorn and Harder Kulm to Interlaken, I calculated a Distance of 40km and 3000 meters of altitude. That implied a walking time of 16 hours.

Preparation


Training

I am usually in the mountains for photography reasons, and therefore I am somehow used to marching. However, this tour was already a little advanced stuff for me. Hence, to ensure that I will be able to complete this mission, I started training on the hiking trails in my home area. I bought a trail running shoe and tried to become faster. Without my camera gear, I reduced the weight I carried by more than half. In addition, the trails on this altitude are nice and easy, so I figured a light shoe would be the best choice for this.

I was able to ask some friends that already did this hike for some advice and tips. In addition, there were some reports online, which helped me out too, although most of them were only covering parts of the whole distance.

Water

The big question for this tour was the amount of water I had to carry. There could be found water between the starting point and Wilerhorn, then again on Brienzer Rothorn. However, from there, when the path follows the ridge, there is no access to water without taking big detours. Carrying more water means more weight, so I decided to go with only 2.5 liters.

Outdooractive

To plan my tours, I always use Outdooractive planer. The desktop version allows you to plan waypoints easily. Synchronized with a smartphone, the tours are still accessible, and there is a feature to track the hike.

Additionally, Outdooractive is a huge community. Planned tours can be shared and downloaded, and if you browse the site, you will find a lot of inspiration for hiking trips.

With the discount code, I can share with you especially for the publication of this post, you’ll get a €10 price-reduction on the paid pro versions of the app. These versions allow the offline use of saved tours, and there are more professional maps (satellite / topo) available.

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What I carried with me

Just a quick list of what I took with me.

The links take you to my partners of Bergzeit online shop. Check out their online-magazine for gear review and stories from the mountains.

Hiking the Brienzergrat

Lumix TZ202

So that I did not have to do this hike without any camera at all, Lumix Switzerland sent me a travel camera for a month of testing.

It fits into the belt pocket of my backpack, has a zoom range from 24-360 mm, and the typical Lumix menu made it easy to use from the beginning. Read my review on the TZ202 and find out how the camera puts up.

Lumix TZ202

The Hike


The waypoints [A]-[P] correspond with the waypoints on the map.

I did not plan the exact day for the hike. First, I had to become fit enough. The second weekend of August seemed to be perfect weather conditions. Warm, dry, and no storms were predicted. Spontaneously, I decided to hike the first part to Brienzer Rothorn, and if I feel good on top, I might try the full distance after all.

August 9th, 2019, my alarm goes off at 02:30. At 02:31, I am filling up my coffee cup and felt unexpectedly fit.

Brünigpass [A] 03:06

Shortly after 3 AM I started walking on Brünigpass. I was going at a nice pace, thanks to the cold night. At the Rothorn/Wilerhorn junction [C] I filled my bottles with water.

Wilerhorn [D] 04:46

It was pitch black when I arrived at this first peak. I was able to see some shooting stars as I took a quick break before I continued the journey. After shooing away, some cows that just started to wake up, I found myself on Gibel [E]. Here I took the direct way up the rugged ridge to Höch Gumme. Alternatively, there is a way around the ridge.

Höch Gumme [F] 05:49

Reaching the second peak at blue hour, I wished for a tripod and more time to take pictures. The sky was breathtaking.

From here, the path was easy and fast. In the distance, the first sunrays just kissed the Brienzer Rothorn. In addition, after the ascent to this peak, I was rewarded by one of the best views on this trip, overlooking Lake Brienz to the south and Central Switzerland on the opposite side.

From Wilerhorn to Höch Gumme
sunrise brienzrgrat haslital lumix tz202

Lumix TZ202 | ISO1600 | F3.3 | 1/400"

Brienzer Rothorn [G] 07.34

Leaving the viewpoint, I was looking forward to filling up my bottles. However, I found locked doors and a photographer. “Did you sleep up here?” I asked. “Sleep?” he answered, “no time for sleep; I had to take pictures.” “Right on!” I thought. We exchanged Instagram handles and chatted for a while.

Finally, the first gondola arrived, and I could enter the bathroom for some freshwater.

The Brienzer Rothorn was my first goal. I could easily take the train back home if I did not feel capable of continuing the hike. However, in my mind, I was already on Harder Kulm, so I kept going – after photographing the grazing ibexes.

The way to Chruterepass was easy so far, but this was going to change soon.

From Höch Gummen to Briefenhorn
Ibex at Brienzer Rothorn

Lumix TZ202 @123mm | ISO200 | F6.4 | 1/250"

Chruterepass [H] 08:30

On this little pass, there is the opportunity to hike down to Brienz again. Or you continue following the ridge. I started going further up, but asked myself: “Is this the path?“ A few minutes later I was back at Chruterepass and checked the map, how could you possibly go wrong on a ridge this narrow? I did some extra meters in altitude but this has to be the right track, although it looks like only the ibexes would go there. It gets more demanding and exposed from now on. From here I would not recommend going further on a wet path.

Briefenhörnli [I] 09:13

Arriving on Briefenhörnli, I quickly realized that the next big goal, and the crux of this hike, the Tannhorn, is still too far away. The distance seemed not to bother me so far, but the long exposed sections on the narrow ridge started to mess with my mind. The lack of sleep and the already 6 hours of hiking did not help me feel better here. However, I kept being super focused and arrived at the crux. I took some time to breathe before climbing up the rugged hill.

path to tannhorn

Lumix TZ202 @12mm | ISO200 | F5.6 | 1/800"

Tannhorn [J] 10:05

Finally on Tannhorn, what a view! The color of the lake was so beautiful on that day and helped to clear my mind. The next descent was again not to underrate in its steepness. However, from here on, the path gets a little more forgiving again.

On the section to Blasenhubel, I noticed a small cottage – with a running fountain [L]. A detour I was happily taking for fresh cold water. The alpine dairyman noticed me drinking and a short time later, I was had coffee in front of me. Therefore, the 30 minutes detour turned into a 60 minutes coffee party — what a motivation boost. Strengthened I hiked back up to the ridge again.

From Briefenhorn to Tannhorn
The crux before Tannhorn
Augstmatthorn [N] 13:20

Soon the sound of drones brought me back from my tunnel view. The next peak must be Augstmatthorn then. Looking back to my starting point from here, so far away, I felt awesome! Now I was able to go faster again, and the trail is only going flat or descending from here. Therefore, I jogged a longer distance, although there’s still a lot of ground to cover to Harder Kulm.

Harder Kulm [O] 15:07

Not a lot to see in comparison to the views so far. Too many people are scrambling on the viewing platform anyway, so I kept going. The last section of this hike takes you down through the steep woods. Exactly what my keens needed on that day. This sucks. However, I am almost at the finish line.

Interlaken [P] 15:58

After 12 hours and 45 minutes, I reached Interlaken. Exhausted but unbelievably happy. This was a big achievement for me and nice to see how far I can go. Except for the long exposed paths on the narrow ridge, which were a psychical burden, maybe also because I was already a little tired, I did not have any noteworthy problems. Which I am grateful for.

If you need more details or if you want to add something, do not hesitate to contact me.

From Tannhorn to Interlaken
The view back home from augstmatthorn

Image gallery


Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Panasonic Lumix TZ202
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Hiking the Brienzergrat
Brienzergrat hiking

Paedii

Paedii is a Swiss-based outdoor photographer. He focuses on vast landscapes and constantly improves his own photographic style.

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