Your trip begins on arrival in Kandersteg, a village with an outdoors focus on the Spiez to Brig train line. Mountains line both sides of this deep valley. Enjoy a first dinner tonight.
Hotel in Kandersteg (breakfast)
Black 3 (grade) 16.5km with 1355m ascent, 1185m descent
The third of the rockiest passes is today, the Bunderchrinde (2,385m). It is a notch in the rock, framing the onward view to Adelboden. The initial descent path is rocky and loose; lower down, the descent is fine and becomes gently pastoral. Adelboden is one of the most pleasant of Via Alpina resorts.
Hotel in Adelboden (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 19.5km with 950m ascent, 1230m descent
Choose from two routes today, both crossing the mountains at the grassy Hahnenmoospass. We suggest the ascent to the Sillerenbuhl and descent via the Simmefalle, a long stepped waterfall in woods. This is a gentler day than those before or after. Lenk is another charming small resort.
Hotel in Lenk (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 23km with 1420m ascent, 1310m descent
We cross two passes today, the grassy Trutlisbergpass and the wooded Chrine. After the first pass is the village of Lauenen and at the end is the hamlet of Gsteig. At both places we can take the regular bus to Gstaad for its lively resort atmosphere and good hotels. (Staying in Gsteig is a decent option too.)
Hotel in Gstaad (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 24.5km with 1320m ascent, 1040m descent
A steep ascent through meadows to the Blattipass and a long pastoral traverse to the Col des Anderets (2,030m) takes us into French-speaking Switzerland. This is an intriguingly cross-country day with some challenge. Above Les Diablerets we traverse several meadows, turn the corner of the hillside and come to the road at Col des Mosses.
Hotel in Col des Mosses (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 32.5km with 960m ascent, 2065m descent
Our long last stage goes cross-country to the Rochers de Nayes, a peak high above Montreux. From this last high point the descent is long, but the middle section of path is a delight, twisting and surprising in its views. Arriving in Montreux is likely to be a sudden change, despite the charm of the old town. The lake-front and the Avenue des Alpes are quite busy. We hope that the holiday atmosphere and the charm of Lac Leman make an exciting finish. (The stage can be shortened by using the mountain railway from the Rochers de Nayes down to Montreux, or taking it from a station lower down.)
Hotel in Montreux (breakfast)
After a last breakfast we depart from Montreux, in what will feel like a very different environment to most of the trek. The paddle steamers on Lac Leman are a fine way to reach Lausanne or Geneva, blue water and hills above. The train speeds to both and to Geneva Airport, or by a pastoral route to Bern and Basel. We love to advise on Swiss travel. Congratulations on the Via Alpina West!
With the days on our normal Via Alpina West trip already being quite long, we don’t recommend shortening the trip by walking longer stages. Instead, we would suggest missing out the first tough day from Kandersteg to Adelboden. This keeps the grade of the trip to a red3, with all the cols being grassy passes with good paths. An ideal trip to give a flavour of the Swiss mountains whilst keeping the walking to an easier grade.
Make the Trip longer
For hikers with a little more time, we recommend splitting the last very long stage into 2. This gives a 19.5km day to Rochers de Nayes and a 11.5km day down to Montreux. There is no accommodation at Rochers de Nayes, so we take the cog railway to Montreux for 2 nights in this bustling town. For an even longer 7-stage trip, we split the stage from Lenk to Gsteig with a night in Lauenen. This gives quite a short day from Lauenen to Gsteig (8km with 420m ascent and 470m descent), so a further option is to take the bus down the valley to the slightly larger town of Gstaad and spend the night in this larger resort with plenty of shopping opportunities.
For added rest days on the Via Alpina West, we suggest taking the bus from Gsteig to Gstaad and spending a night in this excellent town. It’s a popular resort with comfy hotels, plenty of shops and bars, and lots going on!
Via Alpina West (Self-guided)
19 July to 18 September 2020
1 rest day
All stops except huts
|Please ask us|
Our Via Alpina West route offers a comfy mix of accommodation with every night spent in a lovely hotel. We’ll book ensuite private rooms throughout, and hope you will enjoy the delicious breakfast awaiting you in the mornings.
As standard, the accommodation on the Via Alpina West is fairly comfy, and in the smaller towns we already use the best options available. If you are looking for a little more comfort, we can upgrade your hotels on 2 nights, in Adelboden and Col des Mosses.
We don't offer a specific Hutty option on the Via Alpina West, due to the limited options on the route and the general spacing of accommodation. However, please do contact us to discuss the minor ways in which we can tweak your trip to suit your preferred style, such as using simpler hotels.
The single supplement covers the extra cost of booking single rooms in the hotels and auberges, compared with 2 people sharing a room.
Our trip gives a complete journey on foot from Kandersteg to Montreux, along the third week of the full Via Alpina. On the trek itself, no transport is taken except for any that you would like to add in, to skip certain sections of valley walking or to shorten descents by cable car. Our routecards explain the different possibilities; none are necessary to complete the route.
The terrain comprises the full range of Alpine walking, a typical day starting with wide tracks through forests, tarmac country lanes, then up to zig-zagging hillside paths and steep, rocky mountain paths. The highest col, the Bunderchrinde (2,385m), involves walking over loose scree and shale, on both approach and descent. The Via Alpina has no via ferrata or climbing sections and is considered a trek throughout.
Is it for me?
This hike will suit walkers who are used to long days in the hills and want to stay in comfy accommodation with private rooms. The hardest part of the route in terms of ascent and terrain is the crossing of the Bunderchrinde Pass on the first day. For clients looking for less of a challenge, a 5-stage trip missing the first stage and splitting the last stage in two, creates a great moderate trip with comfortable accommodation.
Our Via Alpina West is a walk, not containing any climbs or via ferrata routes. There is no glacier walking and no rock climbing. On the first day though, there are sections where the path crosses steep and rocky ground, and care is needed. These full mountain days call for self-reliance, particularly in wet weather and bad visibility
For an even more detailed read, please see our Via Alpina Walking Guide
Swiss Train Station
Your holiday starts in the valley village of Kandersteg and ends on the shore of Lac Leman at Montreux. Zurich and Basel (for Kandersteg) and Geneva (for Montreux) are the most convenient airports, with good trains.
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.
- Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
- Breakfast every morning
- Dinner at the auberges (on 1 night for our main trip)
- Detailed Routecards VAS14-VAS18 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- The topographical maps needed
- Expert advice and local information
- A comprehensive 'Season Update' following our pre-season recce
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (9am until 9pm in the Alps)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in the towns (this would be 18 nights on our main trip)
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferWe offer baggage transfers as an extra to all stops on our standard Via Alpina (baggage transfers aren’t available to the huts if this option is chosen). Due the high cost of transferring luggage by road and rail in Switzerland, we generally recommend that you carry everything you need for the trip on your back; there is not too much you need during your trek. We can also advise on more cost-effective ways of sending additional kit ahead to meet you on the rest days and at the end of your trip. If you would like more information about our baggage transfer service, please ask.
2020 and provisionally for 2021
Via Alpina West enquiry form
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
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