«Timing» Bütlasse in Kiental – Bernese Oberland, SUI

Timing is crucial on Spring Ski Tours

While you still can set off for a ski tour in the deepest winter even by afternoon, in spring-time you usually have to leave before sun dawn, often equipped with a headlamp – especially on longer (+4h) tours. The right timing depends on many factors and often decides over fun or frustration on your tour. With a great deal of experience, the avalanche risk and the changing snowpack, which are rising over the course of the day, can also be better assessed.

Once again Rönee and I have agreed on a versatile and humane weekday in the middle of March to ski in the Bernese Oberland.
Driving off at 06: 00 o’clock in the morning in Berne, we started our skitour from the parking lot below the Griessalp at 07: 00 o’clock. The first part up to the Griessalp we had to hike with our skis shouldered (bootpack), since the road here was already free of snow. From there we had up to the middle part of the tour grippy hard snow, sometimes also some ice. The use of the crampons was an option, but not necessary. From about 2’500 m. a. S.  on, mainly in the northern slopes, we even had some powder. The large traverse along the “Vorderi Bütlasse” proved to be a pleasant old snow-traverse and did not involve any significant risk. The key point in the couloir below the summit was easy passable with hard snow in it, both in the ascent (bootpack) as well as in the descent (ride / scrub).

Our goal was to be on the summit before the noon because of the radiant weather (-> + 2 ° C on 2000 m above sea level). Enough time for the snow, to change from hard packed snow into the much more appreciated slush – as an established touring team, we mastered the almost 2000 vertical meters and 10 km of distance including two short breaks within 4 1/2 hours and enjoyed the 4000er summit spectacle of the Bernese Alps from 3192 m. Ü. M at 11: 30h from the top of the Bütlasse. The upcoming descent seemed promising, as we experienced on our climb an all-in-one snow experience – just the right timing was still in demand. The early departure of two individual touring people at 09: 30h and 11: 00h was decidedly premature, because the middle part of the snow had not yet softened, and they “scrubbed” so many vertical meters on a hard snow cover.

The legendary 2000 meter-descent back into the Kiental was truly worth the ambitious ascension. In the top third we had 15cm of powder snow. Only the short part above the couloir, which is facing north, proved to be a transitional zone because of the hard-cover snow. After the couloir, the snow continued to change during the whole descent, softer and softer, until we landed in the bottom part of the “Super Slush Fun Zone” and it felt more like water-skiing than snow-skiing. Thanks to the playful terrain in the lower part of the descent and the top conditions, we did not let us take to play with the terrain 🙂 At 13:00 on the bottom of the Griessalp, we sizzled on our seats from the meanwhile intense spring-sun and enjoyed our beer we truly deserved. It’s worth mentioning that we have forgotten in the morning to buy a parking ticket. Back at the car, we noticed the park fine on our windshield, which was only 10 CHF (the usual parking price for one day). A littlebit embarrassed by ourselfs, I paid the bill on site via e-banking – to clear our good Karma on the way home and not to put any more stones in our way …


Figures

Region: SUI -> BE -> Kiental -> Bütlasse (2’629’269.750, 1’152’010.500)
Ascend: 4:30h
2041 m  | ↓0 m | → 9.8 Km
Descend: NW
↑2041 m | ↓2041 m | → 8.6 Km
Conditions: Powder – Snow-Crust / Firn – Slush – Snow-Free
Gradient: 30°- 45° | Crux: the short Couloir below the peak-slope
Avalanche Situation: 2 (Moderate)
Level: ZS
Frequency: Low
Participants: Al, Rönee

Media

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Data

Due to technical issues, my GPS tracker has recorded only the 2nd half of the tour correctly. The GPS track reflects the ascent route, the departure took place without recording, but on the same route …


Links

Journey

  • Public Transportation
    Attention: In winter / spring, the Postbus only goes to Kiental, from there it is again a few kilometers to the starting point, an overnight stay for spring trips is recommended!
  • Car
    Carsharing over Mobility or Sharoo: From the village Kiental continue along the Tschingelsee to the car park Wildmoos – Attention: Do not forget your parkticket! ;)

Board & Lodging

  • Griesalp Hotels
    The Resort on the Griesalp offers 40 rooms in five hotels. They offer their guests ambiance and down-to-earth charm. The complex is very nice made and also offers spa and wellness facilities. The prices are rather high (nothing for lowbudget travelers) but why not even treat yourself to something … In addition, they also offer a bed in a dormitory including breakfast for about 75 CHF. Their culinary offer is also very appealing – since we arrived by car from Bern and didn’t stay over night, we chilled after our tour on the sun terrace in front of the hotel with food and drinks. We highly recommend this place for a moment of peacefulness!

Maps & further tour information

  • Swiss Map Mobile
    Best map-app in Switzerland. It’s free. Available For Iphone & Android. There’s the option to display all ski tours which are stored in the SAC library.

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Alpine Tracker's Rating

7 Challenge

7 Conditions

6 Scenery

6 Remoteness

Surely one of the "longer" tours you can do in the Bernese Oberland. The ascent is varied and worthwhile. The ski run over 2'000 meters makes every skier's heart beat faster and offers a variety of terrain for advanced and pro skiers!