Walensee High Route, Switzerland
Words and photos: Nick Ashby
Just an hour southeast of Zürich, in between the jagged Appenzeller Mountains and the beginning of the Glarus Alps, lies the Lake of Walen.
The deep mysterious pool was beautiful enough to inspire Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to write a song about it, “Au Lac de Wallenstadt”, and it lies at the foot of the equally inspiring Churfirst peaks, on which this Alpine hike takes place.
The hike begins at the not-so-charming Rehab Clinic Walenseestadtburg, and continues west through the more charming chocolate box Swiss Alpine landscape above the lake. Not many minutes later you pass the ‘Paxmal’, the peace monument built by eccentric Swiss artist and stamp illustrator Karl Bickel.
From there you climb a very steep zigzag to the beginning of the high plateau. There’s a whole other world up there, with panoramic views of peaks in all directions and a “Teletubbyland” of rolling snow fields east back towards Walenseestadt. This route allows for spectacularly close-up views of the Churfirsten rock walls and the fjord-like Lake Walen below.
After jogging hurriedly for a couple of hours because you didn’t realise the snow would be thigh deep and you’re stressing because you’re wearing shorts and sneakers, and your girlfriend already got stuck in a snow drift up to her armpits, you might be pretty stressed.
Thankfully, after just a little more stress, you arrive at the perfectly located Alp Tschingla. Here you can relax with a bottle of Rivella and enjoy the view.
Now it’s a seriously vertical descent through a gorge-like forested valley that ends back at Walenseestadtburg.
This post originally appeared in a slightly different form over on Left Foot Right Foot, which publishes walking guides written by hiking enthusiasts across Australia and the world. They will make you want to close your computer and hit the open road (or at least follow them on Instagram).
Text and images © Left Foot Right Foot.