Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse

Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse
Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse
Photo: © Jean Pavillard

A majestic ski mountaineering tour across the biggest glaciers of the Alps, the Berner Oberland Traverse in central Switzerland offers some of the most breathtaking views of the European Alps.

You will find yourself surrounded by incredible peaks such as the Jungfrau, the Monch, the Eiger, Finsteraarhorn with many options to ski one of the peaks nearby peaks.

The Berner Oberland Traverse includes skiing over eight glaciers, starting at the Jungfraujoch and finishing in Munster, after enjoying an incredible descent of over 6,000 vertical feet.

Surrounded by glaciers and peaks, the high altitude environment gives a sensation of a different world.

Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse

Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse
Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse
Photo: © Jean Pavillard

Wilhem Paulke traversed the Berner Oberland for the first time in 1897, starting at the Grimsel pass and skiing over Oberaaejoch, Grunhornlucke and down to Belalp via the Alestch glacier.

Today, the Berner Oberland Traverse is very accessible, thanks to the train that brings us to the Jungfraujoch at 3,454 meters in one hour from Interlaken.

I find skiing the Berner Oberland tour in late spring yields perfect conditions.

The comfort of the beautiful alpine huts, combined with the short distances between each hut, makes this tour very enjoyable with so many options.

From easy to extreme, there are many opportunities for alpine climbs and skiing the nearby peaks.

Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse: Itinerary

Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse
Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse
Photo: © Jean Pavillard

There are numerous variations to the Berner Oberland Traverse but a typical itinerary for the ski tour is:

Day 1: Travel from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch via train. Ski up to the Monchjoch Hut (3,630 m/11,906′) and spend the night. There is the possibility of climbing the Monch along the way (4,099 m /13,444′).

Day 2: Ski traverse to the Konkordia Hut (2,850 m/9,348′) via Trugberg Mountain (3,867 m/2,684′). This is a great ski descent with spectacular views of Konkordiaplatz  the glacial ice is ~3,000′ thick!).

Day 3: From the Konkordia Hut, ski to the Finsteraar Hut (3,048 m/9,997′) via Grunhornlucke (3,266 m/10,712′). Ascent of Weissnollen (3,594 m/11,788′) over two glaciers followed by a fantastic ski descent.

Day 4: From Finsteraar Hut, ascend and extraordinaire ski descent of Gross Wannenhorn (93905m/12,886 ft) or Agassihorn at (3,953m/13,044 ft). Return to the Finsteraar Hut.

Day 5: From the Finsteraar Hut, embark on a mellow ski traverse to the Oberaar Hut (3,258 m/10,686′). Ski a peak along the way.

Day 6: From the Oberaar Hut, descend to the town of Munster (1,388 m/4,552′) via Galmilucke (3,293 m/10,801′) or Galmihorn (3,486 m/11,434′). This is a great descent from the white ice and snow of the glacier to the green valley floor (6,134′ vertical). Return to Interlaken.

Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse: Difficulty & Preparation

Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse
Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse
Photo: © Jean Pavillard

The Berner Oberland Traverse is a strenuous tour and requires:

  • A high level of fitness
  • Strong skiing skills with the ability to perform strong stem christies while carrying a pack
  • Skiing in variable snow conditions – powder, hard spring snow, crud and everything in between – while under control.
  • Basic mountaineering skills. Alpine climbs require the use of crampons, rope and climbing skills.

Skiing the Berner Oberland Traverse: A preview

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Article & photography by Jean Pavillard