Discover the Alpine Pass Route with a Cicerone guidebook
Alpine Pass Route
East to west across Switzerland – From Sargans to Montreux by Kev Reynolds
This handy guidebook contains route descriptions for the long distance Alpine Pass Route. It covers 326km in 15 days, with stages varying from 13 to 32 km. There are options to shorten longer days as well as to split the entire route into two easier sections. It requires no technical mountain skill to complete but a basic level of fitness is needed More...
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Although it has no official status, the Alpine Pass Route makes a complete traverse of Switzerland from the ancient town of Sargans on the borders of Liechtenstein, to Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva. It covers some 326km (202 miles) of mountain and valley, and crosses 16 passes with an accumulation of more than 18,000m of height gain in 15 stages. Also included is, information on where to stop if walkers wish to shorten the longer days as well as options to complete the walk in two sections as well as completing it as one long trek.
Each day begins with the prospect of wandering for hour after hour through valleys coloured by wild flowers, streams, crags and waterfalls, remote farms and haybarns, pasture and woodland, all flanked by mountains whose sheer scale create a sense of wonder. The scenic diversity is astonishing. Some of the valleys are gentle, pastoral swathes – great grass-bedded hammocks slung between mountain ridges – while some have been scoured by ice into deep U-shaped trenches, like that of Weisse Lutschine.
At first, in the east where you rise out of Sargans, the peaks are little known to all but those who live at their feet. Scantily dressed in snow, their scale is perfect for an introduction; they do not appear forbidding, but have certain benevolence. It would be wrong to imagine that this epic route is the preserve of the seasoned trekker. If it were in wilderness country perhaps it would be, but in Switzerland there are several options for easing the mountain trek as backpacking is unnecessary in a land where villages with food shops are met on practically every stage, where hotels, gastofs and communal dormitories are found all along the route, and where transport alternatives effectively reduce any problems that might occur through bad weather.
From Sargans to Montreux, the route will demand at least 15 days of constant walking. Despite crossing many high passes, some of which are quite rugged, the Alpine Pass Route demands no technical mountaineering skills. However, there are occasional short exposed sections (mostly safeguarded with a fixed cable handrail), and a few places where cables aid the ascent to, or descent from, a pass. Apart from these, the trails are mostly straightforward, albeit with several long stages to be faced. With long days and a number of steep ascents and descents to contend with, it would be sensible to put in some preparation before setting out.