Here is a story for the independent hiker or independent traveller – if you wish – that really wants to get in touch with the Alps in Switzerland.
Back in September 2012 I decided to meet my friends at Rotondo cottage. They used to be the tenants up there until 2015. I was pleasantly surprised! When I heard about Alpine cottages before, I was always warned, that only experienced hikers can access them, as inbetween some climbing might be required. I also thought, you can go there only in winter, going up the mountains with your skis equipped with furs. But the cottages are open in the summer season as well. And some are easily accessible for hikers like the Rotondo cottage while others are not.
On the way up and down I enjoyed some beautiful sights
What might this be? It is a signpost for the Rotondo cottage in winter time. The area can be covered by 3 metres of snow. Then it stands out just a little. I estimated the height of it to be 4.5 metres. Amazing!
Two more pictures with amazing views:
The Rotondo cottage and around it
On the right side you can see the cottage. It really melts perfectly with the area around it. On the left you see a small glacier.
And here is the cottage photographed from just below. It lies on an altitude of 2570 metres.
This is the terrace of the Rotondo cottage with a magnificent view to the glacier. Can you imagine how much I enjoyed my beer after the walk up?
If you get up early you will be rewarded with a view like this just before sunrise.
A muddy lake saving some of the melted glacier water photographed form the Rotondo cottage.
More information about the Swiss Alpine cottages
The Rotondo cottage belongs to the SAC (Swiss Alpine club) . They run cottages throughout the Swiss Alps, that usually are only reachable by hiking, sometimes even with some climbing inbetween. They call them huts, but I find cottage the better word to describe it.
More information about the Rotondo cottage
Find the Rotondo cottage web page here (in German only).
To stay overnight you should call them for a reservation on 041 887 16 16 (They speak English).
The price to stay overnight is 73 CHF. That includes a bed in a dorm (no private rooms), dinner, breakfast and hot tea for on the way the next day, if you have a thermos jug. If you go during the week you have a good chance to have one dorm for yourself and your friends.
Best time to go in summer
The summer season starts in July and lasts until the first snow in October falls. Snow showers, that melt away quickly, can occur even in summer time.
How to get there in summer (!!!)
Before you go, check the weather forecast. The Alps can be somewhere from unpleasant to dangerous when the weather is bad!
Take the train to Realp (timetables on sbb.ch) or go there with your car. If you go with your car make sure to ask where you can park it for two days. From Realp you can hike up to the cottage in about 4.5 hours. The way is signposted with white-red-white marks. Start by 2 pm at the latest so you can go up with daylight and warm temperatures.
For a day-tour you should start at 9 am at the latest, because hiking in the Alps after sunset is dangerous.
If you don’t want to walk that long there are two options:
Get a permit for your car two workdays ahead by sending an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your car license plate, your name and address with the keyword “Fahrbewilligung Witenwasserntal”. Then you can drive up the small Witenwasserntal road. Get someone’s help to handle this in German.
Or call a special taxi one workday ahead. The numbers are 041 887 07 77 or 079 204 93 45 (mobile). This should also be done in German.
From the parking lot you still have to walk up one hour. The way is also signposted with white-red-white marks.
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