Wow! That’s the first thing you’ll say as you rise over the the top of the ridge between Bettmeralp and Eggishorn and are rewarded with one of the best views in Europe.
There are a few options to see the glacier, depending on how much time you have and how strenuous you want your hike to be.
1. Half day itinerary with 500m ascent. Starts at Fiesch, cable car to Fiescheralp, hike up 45-60 mins to Elsenluke between Bettermerhorn and Eggishorn, 30 mins walk to Eggishorn station, cable car down.
You want to earn your hearty Swiss lunch at the top right?! No sweat, no candy; or in this case lots of oozy, melted, nutty cheese (Gruyere or raclette).
Its possible to take a cable car the entire way up from Fiesch (start) to Bergstation Eggishorn but this really defeats the purpose of having an adventure and pushing the limits a little. Low to moderate fitness is required for this option and the trail is not technically difficult unless you choose to do the rock scramble up Bettmerhorn or Eggishorn once you reach the ridge (I recommend the latter for the spectacular views). This option gives you 45-60mins of ascent to Bettermeralp, then a short 30min walk along a dramatic ridge to Eggishorn where a cozy mountain restaurant prepares regional specialties like ham and cheese Rosti. Check the schedule for the cable car to avoid walking back down, but trips run every half hour.
Total walking time: 2-3 hours
Degree of Difficulty: 5/10
2. Full day itinerary with 700m ascent, approx. 15kms walking: Starts at Betten Talstation, cable car to Bettmeralp, 2nd cable car to Bergstation Bettmerhorn, take the trail descending to Roti Chumme, continue to Marjelensee, Tailisee, ascend 300m to Eggishorn station, cable car from Eggishorn to Fiesch.
My original intention was to do this hike alone but my timing so late in the season meant a change of plans. Recent snowfall had covered the trail, and the shady part of the mountain was already buried under deeper snow. Some people told me the snow was no problem, while another guy at the cable station in Fiesch gave me the number to the helicopter to call if I needed help because he was convinced I was on some kind of suicide mission.
It turns out neither was accurate; the snow was only inches thick and I managed the half-day itinerary perfectly in my trail running sneakers. The hiking season is from June to early October; the perfect time to tour along the largest glacier in Europe, meandernaround an untouched mountain lake, and ascend to Eggishorn mountain where you can take a picture of one of the greatest panoramas on Earth.
Total estimated walking time: 8-10 hours
Fitness required and degree of difficulty: 7/10