Day 7: Gemmipass and Oeschinensee

A long day of hiking up to the Gemmipass, back across Kandersteg, up to the Oeschinensee, and back to the hotel.

Hiking Distance



Elevation Gain



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Hiking Route
Cable Cars
Showers in the Gasteretal from the Sunnbüel Gondola

Like yesterday, today also began with a bus ride. After breakfast I walked a few blocks through town over to the bahnhof (train station), where I boarded a bus for a short ride over to the Luftseilbahn Kandersteg-Sunnbüel cable car which took me up to the start of today’s hike to Gemmipass. Rain showers swept through while waiting for and riding up on the gondola but started clearing as I arrived at the top.

Trailhead at Sunnbüel
Peaks above Altelshütte

The trail was an unpaved road and was an easy walk. I was a little slow getting started after all of the hiking over the past seven days and gawking and taking photos of the scenery, but I picked up the pace going up the hill past the Berghotel Schwarenbach.

Berghotel Schwarenbach

A half-hour later I arrived at the Daubensee, a lake near the pass. I decided to take the longer way around the far side of the lake to the right, opposite the main trail to the left as the trail so far had not been very interesting. This trail was much narrower, went up and over a small ridge, and wound around the shore of the lake up to the inlet stream and a small bridge.

Der Daubensee und das Daubenhorn

There was a small gondola here, taking riders up the Gemmipass from the Daubensee. I decided to make my way up the steep hillside instead of riding the gondola. I couldn’t see the pass from here but guessed it wouldn’t be far from wherever the gondola went after it disappeared over the ridge.

Daubensee Gondola to Gemmipass

The going was much more challenging here, with no trail and a steep route up to the top. It took me about a half hour, but as expected (guessed) I popped up pretty close to the Gemmipass.

View From Gemmipass Down to Leukerbad and out to the Valais (Pennine) Alps

At the pass, there is a fantastic view of the big peaks in the Valais Alps, including the Matterhorn and Dufourspitze (aka the Monte Rosa, tallest peak in Switzerland). There is a large station with a restaurant and a cable car going down the south side to Leukerbad in the Canton of Valais, which brings up a lot of tourists. The restaurant (cafeteria) menu was bland compared to what I had been enjoying over the past week. I had the Alpine Macaroni and Cheese (with apple slices) and an apfelküchen (apple pie).

Alpine Macaroni Cheese at Gemmipass with Leukerbad below

After lunch and a few photos, I headed back down the main trail making good time. A little way past the Schwarenbach I came to a junction with a trail that went around the back side of the Spittlematte valley. I opted to leave the main trail here and was rewarded with a more interesting and scenic route looping around the other side of the valley. I rejoined the main trail near the Gondola station and a few minutes later was relaxing on the patio at Sunnbüel enjoying a Coke Zero before heading back down the cable car to Kandersteg.

Kandersteg from Sunnbüel Gondola

At the lower Gondola station, I learned that the next bus would not arrive for another hour. I decided to walk back into town rather than wait another hour even though I was getting a little tired now at around 3pm. It was a long and warm walk back through town to the hotel.

Hotel Bernerhof

I decided there was enough time for a quick trip up to the Oeschinensee before dinner. I was pretty tired when I finally arrived at the Oeschinensee Gondola station. From the upper station it was about a one-mile hike through the forest over to a good view of the lake. The Oeschinensee is noted as one of the most scenic lakes in the alps with glacially-fed turquoise blue water and surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the region.


Clouds had gathered in the late afternoon and had been getting darker as I boarded the gondola, and as soon as I had taken a couple pictures of the lake it started raining really hard. Thunder and lightning followed shortly, which was concerning as the lightning was so bright and the thunder so loud with hardly any gap between the two. My Gore-tex jacket and Seattle Sombrero (which I finally got to use after it taking up precious space in my pack all week) kept me dry, but my feet got completely soaked. I squeezed into the cable car station to get out of the rain and rode down with an Italian couple.

Rain showers approaching the Oeschinensee

Back at the hotel my shoes were so wet I didn’t even want to wear them to my room. The hotelier offered to dry them downstairs overnight. Since this was my only pair of shoes, I was confined to the hotel without shoes for the evening. I had planned to go out and explore for dinner but was happy to just relax with another good meal in the hotel restaurant: a delicious veal Zürich and three-chocolate desert!

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