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Report 1021: Switzerland in Slow Motion: 100 Miles on the Alpine Pass Route

By Kaydee from Tennessee, Summer 2005

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Page 14 of 19: Day 11: Kandersteg to Adelboden

photo by Kathy Wood

Our hotel in Adelboden

As we expected (but tried to deny), it was raining when we woke up. We turned on the television and tried to follow the weather reports from the various mountain tops. We couldnít quite figure out the German, but it was obvious that there was no visibility at the higher elevations.

We sat with Phil and Kris at breakfast and talked with the hotel owners, a husband and wife who spoke very good English. Phil said Al had already been down to breakfast and was trying to decide what he would do today. The hotel owners told us it was snowing on the top of the mountain we were supposed to cross today, and they advised us strongly to take a lower route or a bus to Adelboden. Our Sherpa notes told us not to attempt a crossing in poor conditions and to heed the guidance of the hotel owners.

While we were sitting in the lobby deliberating, a group of English-speaking hikers was assembling in their rain gear, hiking with a guide. They were apparently going up over HotŁrli, the reverse of the route Charley and Al had done yesterday. Some of the people looked very apprehensive, but they set out in the rain.

We finally called up to Al's room, but it seemed he had already left. Maybe he didnít want to get caught up in our more cautious deliberations. Our family thought we would follow the lead of Kris and Phil, who had more experience hiking in Switzerland. The group decided that we would hike a valley route to the town of Frutigen (which Kelly and I had gone through on our bus ride to Kandersteg two days ago) where we would catch a bus up the next valley to Adelboden. We could have tried to walk the entire way to Adelboden on a lower route, but it was extremely long and not recommended by Sherpa.

The five of us set off in full rain gear in a light rain, first along the road and then along a trail by the river Kander. Kelly was using her new gaiters, and I wore my dorky rainhat. It wasnít a very interesting walk, but the rain wasnít too heavy and we were able to talk in small groups while we walked. I took off my rain hat as soon as the rain slowed to a drizzle. We made good time together, stopping less frequently than our family normally does. I struggle on the steep uphill sections, but I do shine on level or gradual terrain, especially with the walking poles to get my rhythm going. Today I had to slow myself a bit to walk with the others. My knee problems had totally disappeared.

We got to Frutigen about three hours later, taking a route that took us by the ruins of an old castle perched up on a hilltop, through a little residential neighborhood, and finally along the highway. Frutigen is a busy town with some industry and a large train station. We talked about trying to walk further, but the options all required a fair amount of additional walking. We only had to wait a few minutes for the bus and then we were on our way up to Adelboden at the end of the valley. Our bus arrived at a busy terminal at the top of the village, and we walked just a block or two to our hotel, the Adler Sporthotel.

We arrived in Adelboden quite early in the afternoon. We beat our luggage to the hotel and our rooms werenít quite ready, but the friendly desk clerk offered us hot tea and coffee in the lobby. We took a quick tour of the sports facilities: whirlpool baths, a sauna, some special footbaths and some other treatment areas. There was also an indoor play area for smaller kids.

Then we were told our room was ready, so we headed upstairs to hang our wet clothes to dry. Our room was typical Swiss: lots of wood and fluffy white comforters. We relaxed in the room, watching an English-language station on television, snacking on some fruit we had packed for todayís walk, and enjoying the view out our window while the day turned more pleasant. We wondered how Al was doing on his hike over the Bunderchrinde, potentially in the snow.

The weather had cleared (though it was still fairly cool), so we went out for a walk to see something of Adelboden. Itís a very clean village with lots of alpine-style hotels and shops on an attractive main street bedecked with flowers. Many of the shops sell hiking and skiing clothes. Kelly and I browsed in a few of the shops; there were some nice things, but we didnít need any more hiking clothes with just a few days left in our walk.

As usual, we had dinner with Al, Kris and Phil. Al reported on his dayís hike. He did see some snow, and he ended up stopping at a small mountain farmhouse to buy some hot chocolate. He said it was quite cold. Itís probably good that we didnít do the mountain pass today, but I hated to miss another part of the walk. Now we have a reason to come back and do it again, hopefully in better weather.

The Adler hotel had an attractive and busy dining room with several different eating areas. Our meal was very good, actually, all our meals on this trip had been very good! And we enjoyed having three friends to hike and eat with.

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