I much prefer multi-day hikes, but walking with a light day pack makes it easier to do more thrilling routes.
It turned September while I was above the Arctic Circle in Norway. Winter was coming.
Where to hike next?
Looking at my list of the best hikes in Europe I considered at least a dozen options.
But the hike that most intrigued was a ridge walk out of Interlaken, Switzerland. A climber, Brendan Leonard, claimed the Hardergrat, or Brienzergrat (“grat” = ridge) was the best hike in the world. I’d never even heard of it.
But his photos could not be denied. This looked amazing.
So I flew to Zurich, my first trip back since the World Gymnastics Gymnaestrada 1982. It did not look familiar. My memory is terrible.
Trains in Switzerland are super efficient, super expensive. It’s easy and costly to zip around. After a day in Zurich, I hopped the train to Interlaken East.
I’d hiked the Jungfrau region in 2009 specifically skipping Interlaken as a tourist trap.
Interlaken is a tourist trap filled with rich Arab, Asian and Indian suitcase tourists. But it was worth staying just to enjoy one of the best hostels in Europe – Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof. In fact, I can’t recall any hostel with more amenities.
On arrival at the hostel I asked the girl at the desk about Hardergrat. She cursed Brendan Leonard. Told me he’d single handedly popularized a very dangerous route. AND they’d hiked it in the wrong direction. All locals KNOW you should do it starting in Brienz, finishing Interlaken. She gave me some good advice.
A really long, tough day, I made it. Almost 10 hours with only very short breaks.
I posted my trip report over on my hiking site.
As I did in 2009 while I was here, I reread the Eiger Sanction by Travanian (1972). It holds up pretty well. Lot’s of violence and murder and politically incorrect sex. Clint Eastwood directed and played the starring role in the 1975 film.
Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.