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Switzerland: Stockhorn

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Stockhorn | Switzerland | Europe

[Visited: July 2011]

When I saw the Stockhorn for the first time, from the train heading to Thun, it seemed like a mountain reserved for mountaineers: the north face looked like a vertical, rocky wall. A few days later, on a sunny morning, we stepped out of the train in the Simmer valley, and prepared to hike up that same Stockhorn mountain. We were on the southern side now, and all I could see, were lovely green slopes and imposing mountain ranges around us. The beginning of the hike was quite easy, climbing mostly through a forest, and we found ourselves sweating pretty soon while working our way up the mountain. We often passed farms, sometimes crossing an asphalted road, even after several hours of hiking, which somehow made it feel like a walk rather than a hike.

Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Stockhorn landscape with Oberstockensee and trees

As soon as we reached above the trees, several things changed at once. First, we immediately noticed some spectacular rocky walls sticking into the sky; secondly, the air was distinctly colder and we soon had to put on the sweaters we thought we only needed on the summit. While before we had only seen the friendly scenery of the Bernese Oberland, we now also saw the rugged landscape above the green valleys. After crossing the mountain pass, we descended to the Oberstockensee, which seemed as good a place as any to have a lunch break. We did so close to a herd of cows, whose ringing bells provided for appropriate background music; we had an unrestricted view of the Stockhorn which seemed pretty close now. The lake looked very inviting, but since the temperature seemed to be getting lower, and we found ourselves having pimples on our arms, we decided to continue climbig for the time being. Higher up, we decided for a more adventurous approach of the Stockhorn, and turned left, and ended up climbing its western ridge.

Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Stockhorn summit and cable car station seen from below

This trail is clearly less used, while providing for great views towards the Alps, but also the north - the city of Berne suddenly seemed close. We had another short break near the shoulder where the final ridge starts, crossed a field with sheep, and quite soon, reached the summit proper. There we were, on the peak of the Stockhorn I had thought impossible to climb. The views in all directions were great, unfortunately not perfect since a layer of serious clouds was hiding the higher mountains from our view. Walking past the station of the gondola, we somehow took a wrong path and realized only later: we found ourselves on the same trail we had used climbing the Stockhorn. We decided to cut straight through the landscape, to a farm, and from there, walked down to the Oberstockensee where we finally succumbed to the temptation of the quiet waters. Once inside, we quickly changed our swim into a dip, and were out before we knew it: the water turned out to be much colder than we had thought! The climb up warmed us again, and we then used so-called trotti-bikes to dramatically decrease the time to get down. Basically a step, or kind of autoped with good brakes, it allowed us to stand up, and sail down the mountain on a good asphalt road. It was a fun way to end another great day of hiking in great mountain scenery.

Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Mountain peak with trees, covered by clouds, in the Stockhorn range
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): The west face of the Stockhorn
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Hiking up the Stockhorn on the western ridge
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Trees surrounding a mountain in the Stockhorn range
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Landscape of the Stockhorn reflected in the Oberstockensee
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Clouds covering the landscape on the flanks of the Stockhorn
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Mountainous view from the Stockhorn: Oberstockensee and Alps in the background
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Rocky walls at the top ridge of the Stockhorn
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Trees and trail on the flanks of the Stockhorn
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): View of the Oberstockensee and the Stockhorn in the late afternoon
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Lake of Thun seen from the summit of Stockhorn
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Trees and vertical cliffs on the southern side of Stockhorn
Picture of Stockhorn (Switzerland): Farm houses on the lower slopes of the Stockhorn on the southern side

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