The Kandersteg, a 350-metre high wall, is a direct route which is not really suitable for anxious beginners. However, there are regular platforms where you can stop off and calm that beating heart.
A via ferrata in stunning countryside, along a 350-metre high wall, arranged in a series of columns and gorges, over which - and through which - the Allmibach flows, creating four waterfalls. For 20 years, paragliders have found promising thermals above this wall, which gets the full benefit of the morning sun. Since summer 2005, via ferrata climbers too have been making the climb, at a point not far from the northern end of the Lötschbergtunnel, to reach a cleverly laid-out via ferrata with a number of surprises in store. It is a route which does not artificially seek out the vertical, but does not shy away from it either. The Köppel brothers (who helped to design the Leukerbad via ferrata, the longest and most demanding in Switzerland) worked on the Kandersteg-Allmenalp via ferrata. As a result, the northern and southern ends of the Gemmi Pass, with its various climbs dating from the 18th century which can still evoke fear today, have modern iron ways for mountain sports enthusiasts who deliberately seek out the sensation of vertigo, and with safety in mind.
K4; the key to the climb is the vertical wall shortly after the start, with the most spectacular passage being the route below and above the roof overhang. Two three-rope bridges, each around 30 metres in length, cross the Allmibach; instead of using the upper bridge, there is also the option of using a Tyrolienne traverse to skim over the water. Two more Tyrolienne traverses are planned, leading from the via ferrata off to the right, to the rocky head and then back down to the climb. These should guarantee even more of that adrenalin buzz. The Kandersteg-Allmenalp via ferrata is open from the start of June to mid-October, when the Allmenalp cable-car is running. Warning: construction is during June 2005; official opening on July 30, 2005.
Kandersteg rail station (1,176 m) or Allmenalp-Luftseilbahn valley station (1,181 m) to the south-west of the village.
From Kandersteg rail station, take the hiking route into the valley. Where the Allmibach flows into the river Kander, turn right and to the north of the stream, reaching the start of the via ferrata at roughly 1,250 m. From the Allmenalp-Luftseilbahn valley station, cross farmland and a private bridge over the stream to join the route already mentioned.
Climb, keeping to the left, along a 100-metre high wall, vertical in places. Cross a three-rope bridge over the Allmibach. A grassed slope leads to a step, with a roof which projects over it by 10 metres and which is conquered using a unique piece of design (a suspended walkway and a ladder which turns through 180 degrees). To the left of the second-lowest waterfall, the climb rises to an edge, behind which the Allmibach roars and falls. A second three-rope bridge crosses it again - brave via ferrata climbers naturally elect for the option further up, involving travel along a 40-metre long suspended rope. To finish, there is a final wall to the exit point, at around 1,600 m. It is a 20-minute walk up to the Undere Allme (1,723 m) with the mountain station of the Allmenalpbahn and the "Beiz-" (inn).
By cable-car. Alternatively, on foot via Ryharts and Schneitböde in 1 _ hours. Alternatively, take a tandem paraglider flight!
Eugen E. Hüsler/Daniel Anker: Wandern vertikal. Die Klettersteige der Schweiz, AT Verlag, Baden 2004
Region: Bernese Alps, Lötschberg
Peak: First (2,548 m) - as an alternative
Time required: 3.0 to 3.5 hours (10-20 minutes to the start of the via ferrata, depending on the starting point).
Variation in height: 550 m climb (via ferrata 350 m).