The To-Die-For Swiss To-Do List
Adventure photographers Dan and Janine Patitucci live in a mountain-lover's paradise: Interlaken, Switzerland. And it would be tough to find anyone who takes as full advantage of their surroundings. Just about every day, they're out running, biking, climbing and exploring the mind-blowing Swiss Alps outside their back door. Here's their tick list for a dream trip to Switzerland.
1. Climb a 4,000-meter peak. One of the most easily accessed 4,000-meter peaks in Switzerland is the Mönch, via the Jungfraujoch train, which tunnels through the Eiger's North Face before dropping you off at the base of the Mönch. Views are of the largest glaciers in the Alps.
Hilary Oliver climbing the normal, East Ridge (PD), route of the Mönch in the Berner Oberland, from Grindelwald and the Jungfraujoch.
2. Climb perfect rock at the Engelhorner. Rising above Meiringen in the Bernese Alps is a dramatic, finned ridgeline called the Engelhorner. Spend the day climbing perfect limestone surrounded in alpine walls above glaciers.
Simon Duverney on the Rosenlauistock, 6a, in the Engelhorn group, with big, dramatic views of the Wellhorn and glaciers in the background.
3. Hike on a glacier. Hike on glaciers before they're gone. One of the best long glacier walks to see both their beauty and the sad disappearing act they are performing is the Finsteraargletscher. Spend the day walking on ice before an overnight at the Aarbiwak in a remote glacial cirque beneath 4,000-meter peaks.
Two women hiking on the Finsteraargletscher towards the Aarbiwak and Finsteraarhorn.
4. Hike the Hardergrat. This ridge is 27 kilometers long with 3,100 meters of vertical gain, and is a classic one-day testpiece trail connecting Interlaken to Brienz.
Hilary Oliver on the Hardergrat, also known as the Brienzergrat, during a traverse of the entire ridge.
5. Ice climb at Kandersteg. High above the classic Swiss mountain village of Kandersteg, in a deep, alpine valley, is the famous ice climbing wall of Breitwangflue. Climb the mega classic Crack Baby, WI6.
Simon Duverney ice climbing at Breitwangflue, above Kandersteg.
6. Ski tour in the Berner Oberland to see the Alp's largest glacier, the Aletschgletscher, nearly 25 kilometers long and estimated at 900 meters deep. Numerous huts are found throughout the remote and isolated region of the Alps making it a perfect ski touring destination.
Three ski tourers at sunrise in the Berner Oberland, skinning alongside a huge crevasse.
7. Visit a Swiss Hut! None are so classic or unique as the Berggasthaus Äscher-Wildkirchli, in the Alpstein group in Eastern Switzerland. The huts are mostly wardened and provide beds, blankets, and a restaurant—all in the backcountry, and all allowing you to travel light.
Janine and Doug Mayer arriving at the famous Berggasthaus Äscher-Wildkirchli, in the Alpstein group in Eastern Switzerland during a running tour of the mountain range.
8. Visit Lauterbrunnen, Dan Patitucci's pick for Best, and Most Beautiful of Switzerland. Hike, climb, drink coffee and—especially—trail run in or around the valley. The Trummelbach Falls trail to Kleine Scheidegg is one of the best trails in all of the Alps.
Woman trail running on singletrack above Lauterbrunnen Valley with views of the Jungfrau and Mönch in the Berner Oberland.
9. Watch the first light hit the Matterhorn from either on the mountain or nearby. From across the valley are several other 4,000-meter peaks with great and moderate alpine routes. The Obergabelhorn Traverse (AD) is a Zermatt classic and allows for quality Matterhorn viewing throughout the day while climbing golden granite.
Two alpine climbers at sunrise on the Obergabelhorn's Arbengrat, above Zermatt, Switzerland with the Matterhorn in the background.