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Berner Oberland

The Berner Oberland is a classic ski mountaineering tour in the Western Alps of Switzerland.  While the traditional Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route is more of a traveling tour from one point to another, the tour we offer in the Berner Oberland focuses more on the skiing.

AMA’s trip begins in Interlaken, a scenic Swiss village located below the infamous Eiger.  From here, we take the legendary Jungfrau cog train up 9,000 feet through the Eiger to a high mountain pass where we start the Berner Oberland.  For six days we ski amongst some of the most impressive 4000 meter peaks in the range (the Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau, and Finsterarrhorn); all of which are interconnected by some of the largest glaciers in the Alps.

The Berner Oberland is a must for anyone who enjoys ski touring with the luxury of a well kept hut system.  All our day objectives eventually lead us in the direction of our next hut; where we enjoy a well-deserved dinner prepared by the hut guardians.  Afterwards, we relax in the comfort of the huts in preparation for our following day.  Since European huts are fully stocked, we are able to travel with light packs making the uphill less strenuous and allowing us to maximize each turn on the way down.

The ski tour will demand some climbing (ice axe and crampon use) on easy but exposed ridges, therefore previous mountaineering experience is helpful, but not required.  Descents off peaks range from 30-35 degrees depending on our objective, mountain conditions, and the group’s abilities.  Participants should be moderate to advanced skiers able to ski in a variety of snow conditions.

Photos:

(click on image to view slideshow)

Tentative Itinerary:

Day 0 Arrive in Interlaken no later than today. Meet for dinner, equipment check, and go over itinerary.
Day 1 Start of the Berner Oberland tour; we take the Jungfrau cog train through the Eiger up to the Jungfraujoch, drop gear off at Jungfraujoch hut, 30 minute skin and climb the Monch with ski descent.
Day 2 Ski down a little ways then skin over to the Jungfrau, climb it and have a lovely ski to the Koncordia Hut
Day 3 Climb neighboring peak and ski over to Finsteraarhorn Hut
Day 4 Climb Finsteraarhorn (big day) and stay a second night at the Finsteraarhorn Hut.
Day 5 Work our way over to the Oberarrjoch Hut, potentially skiing Gross Wannahorn
Day 6 Ski out and return to Interlaken
Day 7 Flights home or travel to your next destination.

Sometimes it seems so easy

Required Skills and Fitness:

The Berner Oberland is a grand tour for strong intermediate to advanced skiers who are able to ski in variable snow conditions. Skiers should be able to ski “off piste” (backcountry) in all types of snow (firm, wet, heavy, and breakable crust). For the climbs, skiers should be able to execute uphill kick-turns without difficulty.  Also, basic mountaineering knowledge is helpful, but not necessary as it can and will be taught along the way.

Fitness is another very important component as the days can be long and tiring. You should have good fitness and be able to tour for 5 to 6 hours every day with a pack varying from 20 to 30 lbs. On the longer, steeper days we will typically ascend between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.

Skiing Ability:

    1. The ability to ski in difficult, deep, heavy snow, or bad breakable crust. You never know what it will be like!
    2. The ability to make turns on firm 40° snow slopes in a controlled fashion; either using parallel hop turns or the more conservative Stem-Christie.
    3. The ability to manage firm 45° snow slopes using either a “falling leaf” (sliding back and forth without turns) or side stepping/sliding down as a safe means of descent.
    4. The ability to ski powder. Skiing down the fall-line with short-radius, rhythmic turns. You know, the real fun stuff!
    5. Basic backcountry ski touring experience; using skins and simple understanding of transceiver, shovel, and probe use.

The beautiful city of Interlaken

Price Includes:

  • – UIAGM / IFMGA  guide
  • – Two nights lodging in Interlaken
  • – Five nights lodging in huts
  • – Breakfast and dinner in huts
  • – Train from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch
  • – Train back to Interlaken
  • – Use of avalanche transceiver, climbing harness, shovel and probe (must reserve)

Price Excludes:

  • – Travel to or from Interlaken
  • – Food and drinks in huts
  • – Meals in towns
  • – Rescue insurance
  • – Travel insurance
  • – Gratuities

Getting To and From

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  • Dates: April/May 2013
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  • Cost: $2,495
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  • Ratio: 4 skiers to 1 guide
  • max. 8 skiers to 2 guides

Pertinent Info

Ski Trips

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IFMGA & AMGA certified guides