Bernese Alps

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Bernese Alps
German: Berner Alpen
French: Alpes bernoises
The Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau
Highest point
Elevation4,274 m (14,022 ft)
Coordinates46°32′19″N 8°07′38″E / 46.53861°N 8.12722°E / 46.53861; 8.12722
Alpes centrales map-fr.svg
Central Alps
CantonsBern, Vaud, Fribourg and Valais
Range coordinates46°25′N 7°45′E / 46.42°N 7.75°E / 46.42; 7.75Coordinates: 46°25′N 7°45′E / 46.42°N 7.75°E / 46.42; 7.75
Parent rangeAlps
Borders on
Jump to: navigation, search
Bernese Alps
German: Berner Alpen
French: Alpes bernoises
The Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau
Highest point
Elevation4,274 m (14,022 ft)
Coordinates46°32′19″N 8°07′38″E / 46.53861°N 8.12722°E / 46.53861; 8.12722
Alpes centrales map-fr.svg
Central Alps
CantonsBern, Vaud, Fribourg and Valais
Range coordinates46°25′N 7°45′E / 46.42°N 7.75°E / 46.42; 7.75Coordinates: 46°25′N 7°45′E / 46.42°N 7.75°E / 46.42; 7.75
Parent rangeAlps
Borders on

The Bernese Alps are a mountain range of the Alps, located in western Switzerland. Although the name suggests that they are located in the Bernese Oberland region of the canton of Bern, portions of the Bernese Alps are in the adjacent cantons of Valais, Fribourg and Vaud, the latter being usually named Fribourg Alps and Vaud Alps respectively. The highest mountain in the range, the Finsteraarhorn, is also the highest point in the canton of Bern.

The Rhône valley separates them from the Chablais Alps in the west and from the Pennine Alps in the south; the upper Rhône valley separate them from the Lepontine Alps in the south-east; the Grimsel Pass and the Aar valley separates them from the Uri Alps in the east and from the Emmental Alps in the north; their northwestern edge is not so well defined, describing a line roughly from Lake Geneva to Lake Thun.

The Bernese Alps are drained by the river Aar and its tributary Saane in the north, the Rhône in the south and the Reuss in the east.


Bernese Alps seen from Bernese Jura

One of the most considerable Alpine ranges, the Bernese Alps extend from the gorge of Saint-Maurice, through which the Rhone finds its way to Lake Geneva, to the Grimsel Pass or, depending on the definition, to the river Reuss (thus including the Uri Alps). The principal ridge, a chain that runs 100 kilometres (62 mi) from west (Dent de Morcles) to east (Sidelhorn), whose highest peak is the Finsteraarhorn, forms the watershed between the cantons of Berne and Valais. Except for the westernmost part, it is also the watershed between the Rhine (North Sea) and the Rhone (Mediterranean Sea). This chain is not centered inside the range but lies close (10 to 15 km) to the Rhone river on the south. This makes a large difference between the south, where the lateral short valleys descend abruptly into the deep trench forming the valley of the Rhone and the north, where the Bernese Alps extends through a great part of the canton of Berne (Bernese Oberland), throwing out branches to the west into the adjoining cantons of Vaud and Fribourg. There the mountains progressively become lower and disappear into the hilly Swiss Plateau.[1]

The north face of the Gross Fiescherhorn

The main chain west of Gemmi Pass consists mainly of a few large prominent summits (as the Wildhorn) slightly above 3,000 metres (9,800 ft), generally covered by glaciers. On the eastern part, the main chain became suddenly wider and the peaks reach over 4,000 metres (13,000 ft), in the most glaciated part of the Alps.[2]

A characteristic in the orography of the Bernese Alps is, that whereas the western of that chain consists of a single series of summits with comparatively short projecting buttresses, the higher group presents a series of longitudinal ridges parallel to the axis of the main chain, and separated from each other by deep valleys that form the channels of great glaciers. Thus the Tschingel Glacier and the Kander Glacier, separate the portion of the main range lying between the Gemmi Pass and the Mittaghorn from the equally high parallel range of the Doldenhorn and Blümlisalp on its northern side. To the south the same portion of the main range is divided from the still higher parallel range whose summits are the Aletschhorn and the Bietschhorn by the Lötschental and the Lötschenlücke. To this again succeeds the deep trench through which the lower part of the Aletsch Glacier flows down to the Rhone, enclosed by the minor ridge that culminates at the Eggishorn.[1]

It is in the central and eastern portions of the range only that crystalline rocks make their appearance; the western part is composed almost exclusively of sedimentary deposits, and the secondary ridges extending through Berne and the adjoining cantons are formed of jurassic, cretaceous, or eocene strata.[1]


The beauty of the scenery, and the facilities offered to travellers by the general extension of mountain railways, make the northern side of the range, the Bernese Oberland, one of the portions of the Alps most visited by tourists. Since strangers first began to visit the Alps, the names of Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Interlaken have been famous. But unlike many other Alpine regions, which have been left to be explored by strangers, this region has been long visited by Swiss travellers and men of sciences. Among them were the brother Meyer of Aarau and Franz Joseph Hugi. They have explored most of the mountain ranges not very difficult of access, and, further than this, have attained most of the higher summits. In 1841, Louis Agassiz, with several scientific friends, established a temporary station on the Unteraar Glacier, and, along with scientific observations on the glaciers, started a series of expeditions. The works of Desor and Gottlieb Studer have been followed by several other publications that bear testimony to Swiss mountaineering activity. Notwithstanding the activity of their predecessors, the members of the English Alpine Club have found scope for further exploits, amongst which may be reckoned the first ascents of the Aletschhorn and the Schreckhorn, and the still more arduous enterprise of crossing the range by passes, such as the Jungfraujoch and Eigerjoch, which are considered amongst the most difficult in the Alps.[1]

Jungfrau-Aletsch area[edit]

Jungfrau-Aletsch area seen from space

The Jungfrau-Aletsch area is located in the eastern Bernese Alps in the most glaciated region of the Alps. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch) in 2001 and further expanded in 2007. Its name comes from the Aletsch Glacier and the two summits of the Jungfrau and Bietschhorn, which constitute some of the most impressive features of the site. The actual site (after the extension) includes other large glacier valleys such as the Fiescher Glacier and the Aar Glaciers.

List of peaks[edit]

Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau
"Top of Europe facility", Jungfraujoch

The chief peaks of the Bernese Alps are:

Finsteraarhorn4,274 m14,026 ft
Aletschhorn4,182 m13,721 ft
Jungfrau4,166 m13,669 ft
Mönch4,105 m13,468 ft
Schreckhorn4,080 m13,386 ft
Gross Fiescherhorn4,049 m13,285 ft
Grünhorn4,043 m13,264 ft
Lauteraarhorn4,042 m13,261 ft
Hinter Fiescherhorn4,025 m13,205 ft
Gletscherhorn3,983 m13,067 ft
Eiger3,970 m13,025 ft
Rottalhorn3,969 m13,031 ft
Ebnefluh3,962 m12,999 ft
Agassizhorn3,946 m12,946 ft
Bietschhorn3,934 m12,907 ft
Trugberg3,933 m12,904 ft
Klein Grünhorn3,913 m12,838 ft
Gross Wannenhorn3,905 m12,812 ft
Klein Fiescherhorn3,895 m13,779 ft
Mittaghorn3,892 m12,769 ft
Fiescher Gabelhorn3,876 m12,717 ft
Nesthorn3,820 m12,533 ft
Dreieckhorn3,811 m12,503 ft
Schinhorn3,797 m12,457 ft
Lötschental Breithorn3,785 m12,418 ft
Lauterbrunnen Breithorn3,779 m12,399 ft
Grosshorn3,754 m12,316 ft
Sattelhorn3,745 m12,287 ft
Wetterhorn3,708 m12,166 ft
Balmhorn3,698 m12,133 ft
Silberhorn3,695 m12,122 ft
Blüemlisalphorn3,671 m12,044 ft
Doldenhorn3,647 m11,966 ft
Altels3,636 m11,930 ft
Tschingelhorn3,562 m11,686 ft
Gspaltenhorn3,442 m11,293 ft
Ewigschneehorn3,331 m10,929 ft
Hienderstock3,307 m10,849 ft
Ritzlihorn3,282 m10,768 ft
Wildhorn3,248 m10,656 ft
Wildstrubel3,243 m10,640 ft
Diablerets3,210 m10,650 ft
Wellhorn3,196 m10,486 ft
Mättenberg3,107 m10,194 ft
Löffelhorn3,098 m10,165 ft
Grand Muveran3,061 m10,043 ft
Sparrhorn3,026 m9,928 ft
Torrenthorn3,003 m9,853 ft
Dent de Morcles2,980 m9,777 ft
Schilthorn2,973 m9,754 ft
Eggishorn2,934 m9,626 ft
Schwarzhorn2,930 m9,613 ft
Gross Sidelhorn2,881 m9,452 ft
Albristhorn2,764 m9,069 ft
Faulhorn2,683 m8,803 ft
Gummfluh2,461 m8,074 ft
Sulegg2,412 m7,914 ft
Vanil Noir2,395 m7,858 ft
Niesen2,366 m7,763 ft
Tour d'Aï2,334 m7,658 ft
Stockhorn2,192 m7,192 ft
Kaiseregg2,189 m7,182 ft
Le Chamossaire2,116 m6,943 ft
Rochers de Naye1,740 m5,710 ft
Le Moléson2,006 m6,582 ft
Dent de Jaman1,879 m6,165 ft


Main glaciers:

List of passes[edit]

The chief passes of the Bernese Alps are:

Mountain passLocationTypeElevation
LauitorLauterbrunnen to the EggishornSnow3,700 m12,140 ft
MönchjochGrindelwald to the EggishornSnow3,560 m11,680 ft
JungfraujochWengernalp to the EggishornSnow3,470 m11,385 ft
StrahleggGrindelwald to the Grimsel PassSnow3,351 m10,995 ft
GrünhornlückeGreat Aletsch Glacier to the Fiescher GlacierSnow3,305 m10,844 ft
OberaarjochGrimsel to the EggishornSnow3,233 m10,607 ft
GauliGrimsel to MeiringenSnow3,206 m10,519 ft
PetersgratLauterbrunnen to the LötschentalSnow3,205 m10,516 ft
LötschenlückeLötschental to the EggishornSnow3,204 m10,512 ft
LauteraarsattelGrindelwald to the GrimselSnow3,156 m10,355 ft
BeichgratLötschental to the BelalpSnow3,136 m10,289 ft
LammernjochLenk to the GemmiSnow3,132 m10,276 ft
TriftlimmiRhone Glacier to the GadmentalSnow3,109 m10,200 ft
SustenlimmiStein Alp to GöschenenSnow3,103 m10,181 ft
GamchiluckeKiental to LauterbrunnenSnow2,833 m9,295 ft
TschiugelLauterbrunnen to KanderstegSnow2,824 m9,265 ft
HohtürliKandersteg to the KientalFootpath2,707 m8,882 ft
LötschenKandersteg to the LötschentalSnow2,695 m8,842 ft
SefinenfurggeLauterbrunnen to the KientalFootpath2,616 m8,583 ft
WendenjochEngelberg to the GadmentalSnow2,604 m8,544 ft
FurtwangsattelGuttannen to the GadmentalFootpath2,558 m8,393 ft
FurkaRhône Glacier to AndermattRoad2,436 m7,992 ft
RawilSion to Lenk im SimmentalBridle path2,415 m7,924 ft
GemmiKandersteg to LeukerbadBridle path2,329 m7,641 ft
SurenenEngelberg to AltdorfFootpath2,305 m7,563 ft
SustenMeiringen to WassenRoad2,262 m7,422 ft
SanetschSion to SaanenBridle path2,234 m7,331 ft
JochMeiringen to EngelbergBridle path2,215 m7,267 ft
GrimselMeiringen to the Rhone GlacierRoad2,164 m7,100 ft
Kleine ScheideggGrindelwald to LauterbrunnenPath, railway2,064 m6,772 ft
ChevilleSion to BexBridle path2,049 m6,723 ft
Grosse ScheideggGrindelwald to MeiringenBridle path1,967 m6,454 ft
JamanMontreux to MontbovonMule path, railway tunnel1,516 m4,974 ft
BrünigMeiringen to LucerneRoad, railway1,035 m3,396 ft

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d John Ball, The Alpine guide, Central Alps, 1866, London
  2. ^ Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn World Heritage Site

External links[edit]