The Gemmipass is an old roman route linking the Bernese Oberland and the Valais region. Its a popular route and an easy hike - using the cable cars at either end if you want to cut the time down and to save the legs and knees! We didn't have perfect weather for this hike - in fact near the top of the passs we had a short snow flurry! However it was ejoyable and the scenery rugged landscape was reminiscent of Scotland I thought.
Apparently this path is open for winter walking too - love to do that sometime in the crisp snow and sunshine. when the views are clearer.
Website below gives all the details and a neat height gain plan.
After walking for about 3 hours from Sunnbuel we eventually reached the Berghotel Wildstrubel at the top of the Gemmipass. We sheltered from the short snowstorm here and ate a wonderful plate of Rosti :-)) Fortunately we enjoyed a brief view in the swirling mist , from the viewing terrace down to Leukerbad way way below. Amazingly there is a mule path down this steep crag in front - allow an hour if you do this. I think I would have taken the cable-car though!
Leukerbad is a spa town so you could enjoy its thermal baths in this otherwise concrete town. From here you can take a bus to Leuk and then a train to Brig and onwards to Kandersteg.
We took our first ever tandem paraglide with Ruedi Grossen, a very friendly local ex-instructor. It's a fantastic experience and not as scary as you might imagine. Trouble is that it has us hooked and we now want to train to go solo!
Equipment: Everything is provided but you should wear good boots as there is a pretty steep and slushy walk to the take off site.
We had a return gondola ticket for Sunnbuel to Kandersteg so with the snow over and a delicious lunch revitalising us it was back the way we had come. Much quicker on the downward route and an enjoyable hike altogether- one I would like to repeat in better weather and even in wintertime when this pass is open. Oh here's the cows we met on the way back, looking forward to being milked!
We started the easy way from Kandersteg by taking the local bus to Sunnbuel gondola and using this for the easy climb up ;-) The stretch from the Sunnbuel cable-car top station along the wide valley floor was easy and passed the alpine pastures- many cows were out grazing in the meadows. It was even funnier on the return journey when it was milking time and we were faced with the onward homeward bound herd!
After an hour or so the path began to wind its way up over a crest to reach the Berghotel Schwarenbach (see hotel tips if you wish to stay here) A rock proclaims its 30 mins or so to reach here. We enjoyed a couple of coffees on the terrace here, enjoying the brief sunshine before moving on. The path started on a narrow track around the hillside - where those sheep are ! Incidentally there is a big sheep festival up here at the end of July with alpine music and events happening.
Just after we started on the path that gently climbs up the side of the lake to the top of the Gemmipass this horse and carriage passed us. This looked liked an unusaul alternative to hiking the pass but on this cloudy day there were no takers.
The path from the Daubensee to the top of the Gemmipass was easy and nowhere near as steep as the climb we had done to the Daubensee. It took about an hour for this part and it started to snow a little but it didn't put these mountain sheep from wanting the food in my pocket. They followed us for a while up the path - I felt a bit like the Pied Piper! - until we met another couple passing the opposite way whence they abandoned us in the hope of more food ;-0
The sheep had meandered off the path now and our way on the Gemmipass was now clear. A short but moderately steep path led up to the Daubensee - the setting for the sheep festival later on in July. Must be delightful in the sunshine but for us now the weather was really clouding over and no reflection for me either :-(