Arrive in Geneva, Switzerland by 10am to meet your trip leader and fellow travelers. A group transfer from the Geneva airport brings us to Grindelwald (3,390') one of the most scenic Swiss villages beneath the legendary Eiger North Face. The afternoon is free to relax or explore before our welcome dinner and group orientation. Dinner included.
Our spectacular journey begins with a close up view of the imposing North Face of the Eiger. After a short transfer from our hotel we ride a classic gondola to Holenstein (5,016?). From here the trail heads south along the eastern flank of Tschuggen Mountain (8,271?) alternating between forest and meadows, directly towards the notorious Eiger Nordwand (this ?North Face? was considered not climbable before the 1930s). We continue hiking to reach the large saddle of Kleine Scheidegg (6,757?). This pass between the Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald Valleys provides a tremendous close range vantage point of the captivatingly savage rock and ice walls of the Eiger, M���nch and Jungfrau, rising 6,000 feet above the valley floor. A lively and bustling place, we?ll meet alpine herdsmen with their cattle, alpinists beginning their attempt to climb the Eiger, and hikers from all over the world. We continue up to Eigergletscher (7,611?) for a close look at the superb hanging glacier that descends the western flank of the Eiger. After lunch amid the breathtaking mountain scenery, we head down to Wengernalp with wonderful vistas that include the peaks Gspaltenhorn (11,275?) and Schiltorn (9,740?). Hiking northward we come to car-free Wengen (4,265?) where we sleep for the night. It is a lovely hamlet nestled beneath the massive North Face of the Jungfrau. All meals included.
Hiking: 6 hours, 8-9 miles; Elevation gain: 2,595 ft.; Elevation loss: 3,346 ft. Please note that hiking distances and elevation gain/loss are estimates for all days.
Our picturesque route from Wengen leads down to Lauterbrunnen where we take a cable car up to Gr���tschalp on the opposite side of the Lauterbrunnental. From Gr���tschalp (4,875?) we hike a high balcony trail via Allmendhubel to M���rren (5,400?). The trail offers awesome views of the Jungfrau, Eiger and M���nch across the Lauterbrunnen Valley, considered by even the most seasoned alpinists to be one of the most beautiful in Europe! An immense U-shaped glacial valley - the world?s deepest - with steep cliffs on either side rising over 3,000?and doused by over 70 waterfalls, it is utterly spectacular. This evening we stay in M���rren, another car-free village nestled high on a terrace beneath Schilthorn (9,740?). All meals included.
Hiking: 5 hours, 6 miles; Elevation gain: 1,380 ft.; Elevation loss: 2,514 ft.
From M���rren we follow the famous Alpine Pass Route via tranquil Spielbodenalp and onto the Rotstockh���tte where we can enjoy refreshments amid the incredible scenery. As we walk we are treated to one view after another of soaring mountains, pleasant green meadows, and meandering streams. From the Rotstockh���tte the path rises more steeply through a narrow valley between high peaks to reach the crest of the Sefeinenfurka. The descent towards Bundalp is steep and rocky but spectacular with dramatic rock formations and wide-ranging views of sparkling glaciers and plunging ravines. Tonight we rest in Bundalp (6,036?), a working farm that offers simple accommodations in the verdant Kiental Valley. All meals included
Hiking: 9-10 hours, 12 miles; Elevation gain: 4,400?; Elevation loss: 3,600?. Terrain: Steep uphill climb followed by moderate hillside traverse; rocky trails and pastures.
From Bundalp we continue hiking the Alpine Pass Route over the rocky Hoht���rli Pass (8,869?) to Kandersteg. The climb to the crest of this pass is one of the toughest of the trip. Today we will likely have the paths to ourselves. The scenery is stark but magnificent ? high and wild, exhilarating but daunting. As we ascend there are great views back down the Kiental Valley and the lowlands beyond, as well as across to the Sefeinenfurka and the craggy Gspaltenhorn. The pass itself is a broad, stony saddle with awesome panoramic views in all directions. Dropping down the other side of the pass, the trail is barren, steep and rocky before reaching grassy meadows again. Continuing down, magical Oeschinensee Lake comes into view. Its shimmering blue-green waters are like a sparkling turquoise jewel amid rocky cliffs. From here we take the gondola to Kandersteg (3,857?), one of the quietest and most idyllic hamlets in Switzerland situated beneath the towering Blumisalp massif. All meals included.
Hiking: 7-8 hours, 9 miles; Elevation gain: 3,890 ft.; Elevation loss: 3,890 ft. Terrain: Steep uphill climb followed by moderate hillside traverse; dirt and rocky trails.
From Kandersteg we travel by tram up to Sunnb���el and begin hiking past the serene Daubensee toward the historic Gemmi Pass (7,616?) which is thought to have been used as far back as the Bronze Age. From here we take time to enjoy our first views of some of the major peaks in the Valais (Pennine) Alps, such as the Dom, Matterhorn, Weisshorn and Dent Blanche. The descent takes us on an impressive trail carved in the cliffs overlooking the town of Leukerbad at the head of the lovely Dala Valley. From Leukerbad we transfer directly to Gr���chen for the night (1��� hours). Gr���chen (5,314?) is a village perched on a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the Matterhorn Valley. From now on our route remains with the Mattertal, following the valley to the south towards the snow and ice of the Valais (Pennine) Alps - the highest mountains in Switzerland ? including the Matterhorn. All meals included.
Hiking: 5-6 hours, 8.5 miles; Elevation gain: 1,300 ft.; Elevation loss: 2,900 ft. Terrain: Wide pasture trails.
Today we begin hiking from Gr���chen. We pass the charming village of Gasenried, and continue along a refreshing "bisse" or irrigation canal that brings glacier water to fields. From the small town of Herbriggen we transfer to T���schalp and join the last portion of the Europaweg?s path to Zermatt. Surrounded by nearly forty of Europe's most impressive 4,000-meter peaks (greater than 14,000'), Zermatt sits against a backdrop of the iconic Matterhorn (14,692'), which rises almost 9,000' directly outside of town. You'll have time to enjoy the town with a dinner on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.
Driving: ~ 45 minutes; Hiking: 7 hours, 10 miles; Elevation gain: 980?; Elevation loss: 3,775'. Terrain: Forest and pasture trails.
Another phenomenal hike awaits us today! We hike from Zermatt on a steep path that takes us up along the Triftbach gorge to the Trift alpine hut (7,712?). We continue hiking on switchbacks up for another hour to reach the very scenic H���hbalmen trail. The difficult climbing is behind us as the trail now undulates between the altitude of 8,250? and 8,580?. At this point, we are facing the most impressive and famous panorama in the Alps: the north face of the Matterhorn, the Mischabel range, the Breithorn, Lyskam, Castor and Pollux, and Monte Rosa! We bask in the views of this stunning scenery before beginning our final descent along an occasionally steep trail to Zermatt. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore before we gather again for a farewell dinner and toast to an excellent hiking adventure. All meals included.
Hiking: 6 hours, 7 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 3,465 ft.
Our trip ends after breakfast at our Zermatt hotel this morning. Continue to explore charming Zermatt and the surrounding area on your own, or take advantage of excellent rail connections to transfer back to Geneva or onto other destinations in Europe. Breakfast included.