Marta's visit - bivouacs in Italy, Breithorn, and Chinzig Chulm

In October (8-14), Marta was visiting me, which meant having some hiking plans. It was raining/snowing quite a lot during the first week of October, but for the visit, we were very lucky (yet restricted to go only to Wallis).

Saas-Almagell to Zwinchenbergen

Hiking in autumn can be a bit tricky, as it is quite difficult to decide what you need. Because of the rains in the first week of October, we were taking snowshoes, and to limit the total weight of gear, we decided to go for a trip with bivouacs on the way, so we do not need to carry a tent. The cabins in Switzerland are expensive, and the experience is far from what we liked in Norway, where cabins were without electricity and service. However, the Italian mountaineering style is closer to what we wanted, so we decided to go hiking on the CH-IT border.

Our route. If you ignore the mark 2, then 3, 4, and 5 are places where we slept.

We started late. We had to pack based on the latest forecast, and it also takes quite long to get to Wallis.

Weather was nice, and only Dom was all the day slightly covered with clouds.

After 3.5 hours, we got the views to Italy, and we found our first bivouac – Bivacco Antigine.

While Switzerland had a clear sky, Italy was covered with inversion, probably due to south foehn. Although we crossed the “snow line,” snow was of no depth and only in the shade. As is common in autumn, water was rather rare. So the snow melting season started again :).

We cooked our only fancy food – a Kari with pumpkin, tofu, and a lot of veggies. My backpack got significantly lighter :D.

We were both quite tired from the long day, the forecast for Wednesday was quite bad, so we were not in a rush for the next day as well.

My view from the window! The alarm clock for sunrise was worthy, I took these pictures and slept further :D.

We were a bit incorrect with weather expectations, if we would left early in the morning, we would evade rain. We hiked only 4 km, mainly descending, and we got to Bivacco Cingino, where we decided to stay. We were not in a rush. There was a water source close to the cabin, and the forecast for Thursday was nice.

Bivacco Cingino was the biggest bivouac, with the capacity of at least 15 people.

We spent the time practicing rope skills for crevasse rescue, as the plan for Saturday was to go to Breithorn, and Marta was never on a glacier tour.

Waiting for better weather was worthy, everything was much more optimistic on Thursday.

When we departed, I noticed a sign on the cabin that immediately reminded me of a youtube video I have seen recently before the trip. We are at the dam from this video showing Ibexes climbing the dam to lick the salt released from the stones. I was curious to see them, so we walked pretty fast.

Yes! Unexpected attractions on the trip are the best!

We were there. Those are not pictures from the Internet.

Cute ibexes


After this surprising attraction, the next one was a 2.2 km long hike through a tunnel. Although I am a fan of caves, carrying a heavy backpack and crawling was no fun. My back hurts when I recall my memories. But still better than hiking in the exposed mountains around.

A typical hiking sign leading to a tunnel

Bivacco Camposecco is the same structure as Bivacco Cingino, we were just passing it, taking lunch inside. After the pause, we continued over the pass behind the bivi.

Civilization, we met one man. shows a short Via Ferrata on this pass. We were concerned, how would we manage to cross it with snow. But as the sunny slopes were snow-free, the chains were accessible, and we did not need even harnesses. An ibex on the path was not so lucky, in the middle of the path was a recently fallen to death adult, and we scared likely its child :(.

We got to the shady side behind the pass, which was likely our riskiest part of the trip, with slippery icy rocks. That took us quite long to get to the next bivi.

Bivacco Città di Varese, this is how I imagine Italien bivouacs! Capacity 2 Czechs/Germans/Nordic people, or 6 or more Latino :D.

We were without water, and so we spend the whole evening with melting snow. When Marta went to take some snow, she was followed by her befriended ibex. He accompanied us for the entire night.

Marta’s new friend

And his family

Last views to Italy

Border back to CH. We met there some Italians, who shared some of their food, and were surprised by my backpack (that sunny day, the snowshoes looked ridiculously).

Grüezi mitenand


We hitchhiked to Brig, and slept under the sky in too warm sleeping bags for the low altitude and early autumn.


On Saturday, we were again slow-paced, as wind forecast was more favorable for the afternoon ascent of Breithorn. I wanted to be as safe as possible because I am not that skilled in leading a mountaineering ascent. Still, Breithorn is the most accessible Swiss 4k, daily ascended by many mountaineers. The only mistake regarding time was that I have not checked the operation time of the cablecar, so it eventually became a bit rushed ascent O:).

We stated from Klein Matterhorn, which is with 3820 masl the highest cable car in Europe. Matterhorn is in the background.

Breithorn at 4164 masl is really close. But you are in 4k, the air density is 66% of the sea level’s one, so the trip is still not without effort.

We started at 13:00 from Klein Matterhorn, and at 14:15 we were at the top. I am surprised to see it now when I checked the photo timestamps. We were pushed by the last cablecar departure at 16:15, but still, it is quite fast for 2.6 km distance and 350 m ascent. We both felt the lower air density, but no dizziness (or just a very slight one). The wind at Klein Matterhorn was 55 km/h, definitely stronger on Breithorn, but it did not feel dangerous.


Only crevasse crossing, Rega - Swiss heli rescue kept an eye on us. Or was it just a signiseeing tourist helicopter?

Top! Swiss side.


With Matterhorn

15 minutes on top was enough to freeze and take only half of the pictures that I wanted, as the camera was freezing as well.

I thought we have some extra time, so I let Marta make an ice anchor. The truth was that we were just in time back, the staff was really pushing us to run to the gondola.

Bye Breithorn, see you soon for ski and fly!

From the north, Breithorn looks a bit scary.

We traveled back to Zurich. For dinner, we had Raclette, which balanced our energy outtake :D.

Relaxing trip to Schwyz Alps

For the last night, we chose a more relaxing trip from Spiringen to Sisikon. I was enjoying a significantly lighter backpack, showing it to Marta maybe a little bit too much.

Gondola? Not for us :).

Harald was finally taken to the mountains.

Cabin at Chinzig Chulm (Kinzig Pass), where we slept. I knew of it since last year’s bike tour.

The nature somehow reminded Dachstein.

Although it was windy (foehn again - but it also brought the sun), we both used the chance to swim.

Autumn colors were reminding us, how lucky with the weather we were.

With plenty of time, we hitchhiked back to Zurich. One of the cars was Tesla 85P, just a casual car :).

Written on November 18, 2019