Hut to hut hiking in Switzerland
Hut to hut hiking in Switzerland – such experience can be an adventure of your lifetime.
Switzerland has maybe the most amazing mountain views in the Alps, Europe or even all the world. So should you do such a trip? 100%! You are not going to regret it.
How to plan it?
First of all, you must consider the time of the year. Straight away – I suggest summer time. Best time to do such thing is Mid-June till Mid-September. Why? Because simply just then all the mountain paths are snow free and you won’t slip on some rocks and get an injury. BUT you must consider this – if you go up more than 2800-3000m – snow can still be your companion. I did one hike, mid July up to Glacier 3000 and got quite a lot of snow, check out this blog entry: Hiking in Switzerland July.
You can still do hut to hut hiking in other times, but you must consider that it can be dangerous OR you can choose huts which are not that high – up to 1500m, in winter time – up to 1000m. In winter time quite a lot of huts are simply closed or even impossible to reach because of too much snow. You can reach most of huts with snowshoes in Switzerland or skis, but still, they can be left with no one inside.
So, let’s plan it for summer. It’s gonna be much safer, much easier, more huts are open.
NOW, where to find the huts?
Switzerland has loooooooooots of huts. Hundreds. You can find them all here: Swiss huts. It’s an official swiss website with all the huts in Switzerland. You can search them by region, place, city or anyhow you wish.
Once you find a hut, you can see when it is open, what it offers (food, hot food, toilet, separate room, any other cool stuff)
How many places hut have (mostly they are pretty big, and fits quite many people, so it can be crowded, especially on weekends). Basically, you can find all info you need about the hut.
On that website, you can as well find quite many offers and suggestions where to hike, what trails you can find and so on. So it’s pretty well made, I like that website. It’s good.
Where to hike?
Ok, so now you open that map with all the swiss huts. Now, choose the place you would like to hike (maybe closer to your airport, train station). If you want to see the highest and most beautiful places I would suggest to look for huts in places mostly close to Italy and France. Closer to the border. There are most of the most beautiful peaks are sitting. So it can be next to Lugano, Davos, Sion, St. Moritz. In the middle: around Grindelwald, Interlaken, Disentis.
Depending on the days you have time to hike, choose as many huts as you can. If you are going to hike 5 days: 5 huts. Simple 🙂
NOW. Sometimes huts can be far away from each other, sometimes very close. I am not sure what is your experience in the mountains, but I would not suggest to pick hut to hut distance more than 15km. If you are experienced hiker/runner/mountaineer – go nuts 🙂 If not experienced – be very aware. 15km on a flat road in your neighbourhood is not the same in the swiss alps. Especially if you are going to gain more than 1000m. It can be excruciating hard. If you do not pace yourself, take too much stuff (too heavy bag), mountains can kill you even after 3km. Believe me, I was there few times. I start too fast, 3km into hike (600m elevation gain) and I am breathing for my life.
So my suggestion – not more than 15km.
What to do if a hut from your hut last night is just 5km from you? No worries. Hike to your hut, leave your stuff there and enjoy a hike around the place. Most of the huts sit in amazing places with loooooooots of hiking trails. It will be no problem to find a place to hike around. As well, if there are many people in the hut – make some friends 🙂
You can even choose all your huts 5km from each other. Or do a round trip and come back to the first hut in the end. Swiss alps are full of valleys, peaks, so don’t worry, the scenery is gonna change all the time. It’s not like hiking 5km in a flat place, in 5km your scenery can change a loooot 🙂 Especially if you are going up.
Now, the elevation gain. That’s the thing which causes most of breathing problems and muscle pain. It can get pretty hard. Some mountains are extremely steep and you may think that your backpack will push you down the mountain 🙂 So here as well: planning is the key. All the huts on the website I gave a link has elevation information AND information how to get there. It has starting point elevation and the finish elevation. You can calculate the difference. Be aware: if the hut you sleep tonight is at 2000m and another hut is 2100m, it doesn’t mean that you gonna gain just 100m, it can mean that you may go down a loooooot and then climb up. So always look for information. Plan into next day. See where you have to hike, what are elevation differences, calculate it. Be clever. It’s mountains. They are no joke.
Now. How much elevation gain is ok for a day? I would say up to 1500m. Not more. 1000m is nice, 1500m is doable, 2000m can kill you. I did once 2200m in 6 hours, 27km in total distance, I was a very tired man after that. And there’s no pleasure if it’s your holiday. You don’t wanna be dieing one day and then continue your trip next day. If you are not a mountain goat, go to mountains just from time to time, keep it simple – 1000m is really enough.
Hut to hut hiking in Switzerland – what to take on such a hike?
Simply said: as little as you can. Don’t pack couple of jeans, few sweaters, three books and so on. Be clever. Now, in the mountains weather can change as fast as politicians opinions, so you must be ready for crazy weather patterns. Even in mid july on sunshiny day you can get hard winds and cold rain – and in such conditions you can get cold in minutes. I don’t want to scare you, but people die everyday in Switzerland in the mountains. Why? Because they think they can do it with shorts and sneakers. Once again: be clever.
You must for sure take your goretex jacket. Or at least some kind of rain protection (actually, no need to buy expensive goretex jacket). If you have goretex pants – even better. Take one sweater (it can get cold). Take two pairs of shoes (there’s nothing more demotivating as putting your tired feet into a wet shoe in the morning). Take underwear (don’t go crazy with 6 pairs, you will be able to wash it in the hut). Take socks (couple of pairs). Take a good and comfortable backpack (wrong backpack is number 2 thing which can kill you in a long hike (number 1 is wrong shoes)). I have prepared before a list of articles how to prepare for a long hike here: Hiking tips. It was for a Camino de Santiago hike, but most rules apply and are the same.
As well, always have water. Water is very important in hard hikes when you climb. Be aware that Switzerland can be very hot in summer. You will not spend all your time at 2000m, so water can disappear very fast 🙂
Take just most important stuff, nothing unnecessary – too much stuff can kill your back and legs. Be clever while planning it. If you have any questions what to take – let me know. I will help 🙂 I have a lot of bad experience and I learn from my mistakes.
As well you must consider such things: costs, popular routes (maybe choose something what people have done), safety (if something bad happens, where to call?), how to get to the first hut, miscellaneous stuff 🙂
Let’s talk about it in hut to hut hiking in Switzerland part two 🙂
Just to let you know: hut to hut hiking in Switzerland can be an amazing trip.
If you have any questions to me: let me know. I will be happy to help.
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