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Discover the Alpine Pass Route with a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of Alpine Pass Route
Available as eBook
17 Mar 2008
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
No. Maps
No. Photos
1st Published
1 Jul 2004
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Alpine Pass Route

East to west across Switzerland - From Sargans to Montreux

by Kev Reynolds
Book published by Cicerone Press

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

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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.



  • Seasons
    From the start of July through to September. August can be wet, and an early trek may find snow on the passes.
  • Centres
    Sargans, Elm, Linthal, Altdorf, Engelberg, Meiringen, Grindlewald, Lauterbrunnen, Kandersteg, Adelboden, Lenk, Gsteig, Mosses, Montreux
  • Difficulty
    It's pretty tough, with some longish days and a pass (or more) every day with over 1000m of ascent.
  • Must See
    The Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau near Grindlewald, valley-pass landscapes every day, the Lauterbrunnen valley, The Oeschinensee above Kandersteg.


August 2010 - UPDATES to 2004 2nd edition

p48: Please note, the original path to FOOALP along the west bank of the stream has now been reinstated after being destroyed by avalanche.

p50: Gasthaus Sonne in ELM is now closed on Wednesday, not Thursday

p58: Hotel Adler in LINTHAL is closed on Fridays

p64: URNERBODEN - the only accommodation in the village now is at the gasthof by the church

p67: UNTERSCHACHEN - Hotel Alpenrose is closed on Saturdays

p93: SCHWENDI - sadly Hotel Schwendi has now closed

With thanks to Stephen Clark for this information.

May 2010

Page 103:

Please note that Berghotel Alpiglen, visited on Stage 8 is now known as BERGHAUS ALPIGLEN. The number of beds should read 22, not 12. Apologies! All other details remain the same

Page 59:

Please note that the youth hostel at Braunwald (Stage 3) is now permanently closed. A reader recommends Adrenalin Backpackers Hostel ( as an alternative.


The Alpine Pass Route
The Route
Suggested Itineraries
Getting There – and Back Again
When to Go
Notes for Walkers
Paths and Waymarks
Recommended Maps
Using the Guide
Safety in the Mountains
Information at a Glance
The Route
Stage 1 Sargans – Mels – Weisstannen
Stage 2 Weisstannen – Foopass – Elm
Stage 3 Elm – Richetlipass – Linthal
Stage 4 Linthal – Klausenpass – Altdorf
Stage 5 Altdorf – Surenenpass – Engelberg
Stage 6 Engelberg – Jochpass – Meiringen
Stage 7 Meiringen – Grosse Scheidegg – Grindelwald
Stage 8 Grindelwald – Kleine Scheidegg – Lauterbrunnen
Stage 9 Lauterbrunnen – Mürren – Sefinenfurke – Griesalp
Stage 10 Griesalp – Hohtürli – Kandersteg
Stage 11 Kandersteg – Bunderchrinde – Adelboden
Stage 12 Adelboden – Hahnenmoospass – Lenk
Stage 13 Lenk – Lauenen – Gsteig
Stage 14 Gsteig – Blattipass – Col des Andérets – Col des Mosses
Stage 15 Col des Mosses – Col de Chaude – Montreux
Appendix A Useful Addresses
Appendix B Bibliography
Appendix C German-French-English Glossary
Route Summary
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