One of my favorite hikes in the Valais is the steep, scenic climb over Augstbord Pass that leads to an overlook with stunning, panoramic views of the Bernese Alps and the high peaks surrounding the Mattertal (Matter Valley), home of Zermatt. (full description)
The trail crossing Augstbord Pass between the Turtmanntal (Turtmann Valley) and the Mattertal (Matter Valley) is one of my favorite hikes in the Valais. The trail travels through diverse landscapes with splendid views, crosses a rugged pass and then descends through a rocky moonscape to one of the most stunning viewpoints in the Swiss Alps.
Starting at the Hotel Schwarzhorn in Gruben, a steep climb through forest, pastures and rocky meadows leads to the inner recesses of the untamed Gruobutalli Valley. At the head of the valley the trail ascends through an austere, rocky landscape to Augstbord Pass where fine views encompass the summits towering above the Saas Valley to the east and the Turtmann Valley to the west.
From the pass, the trail drops steeply down scree covered slopes to a rock-strewn valley beneath the flanks of the Schwarzhorn. Soon the trail crosses to the south side of the valley where it traverses a long boulder field before rounding the end of the valley’s south ridge to a grassy knoll with breathtaking views.
From the knoll enjoy a panorama of peaks adorn with glaciers. The Bernese Alps fill the skyline to the north. To the east the peaks of the Mischabel range rise above the Mattertal while the Weisshorn, Bishorn and Brunegghorn dominate to view to the southwest. Monte Rosa, Lyskamm and the Breithorn massifs tower above the head of the Mattertal valley to the south. In the distance to the east are the peaks flanking the east side of the Saas Valley.
From the overlook the trail drops down steep slopes to Jungen, nestled in a hanging valley perched high above the floor of the Mattertal. Here a small cable car whisks hikers down to St. Nicklaus where trains depart for Zermatt or Visp and a bus heads to Grachen.
The trail, while steep is not overly difficult thanks to well-engineered switchbacks facilitating the climb to the pass. There is no place for refreshments between Gruben and Jungen, so pack a lunch and take plenty of water.
This trail can easily be walked in reverse. Frequent trains run between Zermatt and St. Niklaus. At St. Niklaus catch the cable car to Jungen. Hikers staying in Grachen can take the bus from Grachen to the St. Niklaus Bahnhoff (train station) and then the lift to Jungen. See the Jungen Lutseilbahn Jungen cable car schedule for more information.
Check the weather forecast before setting out from Gruben. Sections of the trail are very difficult to follow in thick fog and the high exposed slopes should be avoided during thunderstorms.