Gastlosen range - The climbers paradise

Last weekend, from 20 to 23 of August we had a Japanese friend visiting us from Romania. She was very interested in natural beauty of Switzerland more than other things, but the weather had other plans. I had in mind some interesting routes, but remote places should only be accessed on perfect weather, as at high altitudes the weather changes come very fast and sometimes even dramatic. As the weather was unstable, I selected two locations which could provide some activity even on rainy weather: Leukerbad for Saturday and Gruyere area for Sunday.

Leukerbad, or Loeche-les-Bains as it is known in French speaking part of the world, is located under Gemni Pass in the Valais canton and it is one of the most important thermal baths resort in Switzerland. For the beginning we took the cable car up to Gemni Pass (around 2400m) where we walk for about an hour. We were forced to return quite fast, as the weather got very unpleasant and some thick clouds started to limit our vision to only a few meters ahead. From the cable car we saw the hiking route from the resort up to the Gemni Pass and we found that you can further pursue up to Kandersteg, on the other side of the mountains. I made a mental note that I have to return and explore more in depth the area some other time... Of course that we stayed longer and enjoy the famous spas, but we were forced to the inside pools by the storm who unleashed itself shortly after we paid for the tickets and pass through the changing rooms. Unfortunately, the pictures that I took would not qualify for stock as far as I think, so I did not even bother uploading them, but hopefully I will return at this location again.

© Bogdan
After the Saturday's failure, Sunday we stayed patient at home until noon and when we saw that the weather was ameliorating we headed towards the Alps of the Fribourg canton. The Gastlosen mountain range is considered to be a part of the Pre-Alps, with smaller heights and less dramatic peaks. However, the image of this particular mountain range impressed me a few months back when I saw an image of them in an photographic exposition that I visited. It took me some time to find their exact location and how to access it, as I did not remember the name back then... As it is not such a touristic spot and more like a local paradise for the enthusiastic mountain climbers, the information about them was scarce and not easy find...

By finding their location and orientation I have concluded that afternoon light would be the best for observing them, as during the morning they avoid the sun from under their own shadows. Of course the light would have been perfect on the other side during the first half of the day, but getting on the other side coming from Lausanne would prove slightly more complicated...

© Bogdan
© Bogdan
When we parked the car, a little bit after Jaun town (French and German only) the top of the mountain range was under the cover of clouds and we could only see the vertical wall behind the pine trees. We started heading towards the Chalet du Soldat (Soldathaus) - about an hour of walking. By the time we got here and eat the clouds have started to clear away giving away the site of this majestic mountain range. We started even spotting the mountain climbers trying their luck on the vertical walls.

Although the Gastlosen mountain range is a little bit longer than it appears in the pictures in this article, the most imposing sector is Sattelspitzen, visible on the left image with the head in the clouds. The highest point of this sector is 2124 meters high and called Ruedigenspitze.

After lunch we started climbing up towards the right of the range as it is positioned in the images above until a point where we could cross over on the other side, but we did not pursue any longer as the weather was still unstable and we did not want a rain to catch us exposed.

The landscape of the path that we were following was very interesting, dominated by the green of the pine trees and the gray of the dramatic rocks. From above, there was a splendid view of the valley below and of the chalet that we stopped for lunch. I have a few more images that I would like to have the time to upload in the following week...

© Bogdan
© Kgtoh
On the way back to Lausanne we stopped for dinner at Gruyere, the medieval village famous for their chess and the castle. Unfortunately for our guest, by the time we got there, the Castle of Gruyere was closed. My wife and myself already visited it a few months back (hence the left image taken from the inside of the castle), but I was hoping to visit the HR Giger Museum, opened in 1998 right at the entrance of the castle, dedicated to the artist responsible for the artwork in the Oscar winning Alien movie. I had to settle down with a beer in the Giger Bar, design by the same guy, and enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Leman Lake on the way back to Lausanne.

Photo credits: Bogdan Lazar, Kheng Guan Toh.

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