The Bishorn Expedition
The Bishorn mountain forms part of the Pennine Alps, located in the southwestern part of Switzerland’s Valais region. It towers over 4000 meters above sea level and offers anyone brave enough to hike up a fair share of menacing risk and mounting rewards.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like, or perhaps plan on trekking across these set of mountains and its accompanying glaciers. You may want to continue reading this article. Doing so could save your life.
In order to complete this hike, one needs to book a place to sleep inside the Tracuit hut. Accommodation for the night cost 60 Swiss francs which include dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday morning. The hut also acts as a base camp for ascents up the Bishorn. The climb towards the Weisshorn and Les Diablonsmountains also starts here. Space fills up quickly so book in advance, on this occasion the hut was full of visitors.
Journey to the top
Once overnight lodging is secured, make sure to arrange a tour guide. Without which an ambitious trip such as this may go south very quick. A few Kooloco team members and friends completed this two-day trek across the mostly untouched, vast landscape.
This early autumn adventure started at the Zinal ski resort, which is already around 1600 meters high. It took approximately 4 hours to reach the cabin, which is double the altitude of the mentioned resort.
What the remote cabin lacks in luxury, is well made up in the scenery. Expect to see breathtaking views of the nearby peaks. Take note that the eerie feeling of being this high up can either have a positive or adverse effect on one’s physique.
Get up and go
At 5 a.m. the local guide, Vincent gave us a wake-up call and also announced that breakfast was served. At around 5:30 a.m., a while away from sunrise, the hike began. The climb up took around 3 hours. The trail, which is rugged and somewhat flat, led up and onto the glacier.
From here onward spikes are required, as well as a rope that gets tied onto each hiker, to create one long convoy. Up we went one foot in front of the other, digging into the icy snow to ensure grip while relying on grit. Slowly navigating toward the summit. The expedition is a thorough team-building venture. The pace is set by the group and not the individual. Helping and motivating others is an essential part of this trip.
While nearing the 4153-meter peak, brace yourself for heavy breathing and moments of feeling light-headedness. Being surrounded by snow and mountains can seriously overwhelm one, it’s therefore essential to remain hydrated. After persevering and persuading weaker team members, the journey neared its climax.
Risks and rewards
Again, it is advisable not to take this trip without an experienced guide. The quick altering weather, designated route, special equipment, even one’s level of fitness and the subsequent pace at which you should walk, are essential know-how that a guide can advise you on.
The feeling of reaching the top is what makes the trek worth the agony. A blurred view suddenly sharpens and one can regain perspective. On this day, there was hardly any wind, mostly clear skies and a manageable temperature. All that was left was to savour the moment and take in the crisp air.
Then came the inevitable descent. Carefully navigating down the slippery terrain towards the base camp cabin, which proved to be needed shelter after being immersed in nature’s best and worst elements.
We recommend this climb and rate the level of difficulty at medium. Though the route back often seems faster, re-reaching the Zinal valley below felt long, but was easier than expected. What won’t be easy, is forgetting this must-do glacier trek.
Article co-authored by Romain Magnin