With 3610 m of altitude, Barrhorn is definitely a very high mountain in the Alps, and yet the normal route to the summit is usually completely without snow in the summertime. By saying ‘snow-free’ I mean the absence of permanent snow on the route.
However, I have just seen a video on YouTube from the end of July 2014 with the route completely under deep snow. These are high altitudes and better check conditions before you start climbing.
In this page, I give information about the route to the summit, and some other details which you will need.
[Bach Sonata for Violin and Piano in B minor BWV1014 – Adagio.]
You may compare Barrhorn with some other mountains in the area, like Rosablanche (3336 m) which is considerably lower, and yet its two normal routes are long walks over glaciers. Also, in the Austrian Alps, all mountains of similar height and heavily glaciated. So if you want to go very high and without crampons, Barrhorn is a perfect choice, good for solo climbing as well.
Barrhorn is at end of the Turtmanntal (Turtmann valley), in its south-eastern part, in the canton Valais (Wallis), Switzerland. The coordinates of the mountain are:
- latitude: 46.155816 (46°9’22” N) and
- longitude: 7.733946 (7°44’3” E).
In some maps, you will find it under the name Üssers Barrhorn. The normal approach from the north is from the Turtmann valley, and in this case, you will pass the Turtmann hut (2519 m) where you can stay a night, but it can be climbed directly as well from the car parking.
The south route is from the Mattertal and it passes Topali hut (2674 m). However, this is a considerably harder route which implies passing some snow and glaciers. I did not pass this route and cannot provide first-hand details, but some descriptions are available on the Internet.
The north Barrhorn route
The access road from the north is from the Turtmann village in the Rhona valley and from there you should take direction to Gruben, and after passing it drive up to Vorder Sänntum at 1900 m. There, you will come to the point where the public road ends up, there is no formal parking and people just leave cars at that point.
You will notice that the road continues to the barrage, however, this section is not open for the public. The walk to the barrage is simple and not demanding. From the barrage, you will see the Turtmann hut on the rock on left side. The route is well marked so just follow the signs.
Regarding timing, from the car parking to the summit you may get in less than 5 hours, and from the Turtmann hut to the summit in about 3 hours. You will need no other equipment than standard mountaineering boots.
About the necessary equipment
My climb to Barrhorn
I was driving from a place where I had accommodation and arrived at Vorder Sanntum at 1900 m shortly after 3 am, so this was again one climb without sleeping. I set off from the parking around at 3:30 am. In the beginning, I was not sure about the direction, it was completely dark and could not see anything.
I started along a path through some bushes and after some time I turned back to the car and then decided to follow the gravel road. This was a better choice and after about 50 minutes I saw lights rather high on the left side of the lake which appeared in front of me. So I passed the lake along its left side and arrived at the Turtmann hut a few minutes after 5 am.
Through the windows I could see that the hut was already deserted, only the guardian was cleaning the tables. Those who spent a night in the hut were already in the rock about half an hour in front of me. There were two long groups of lights in the distance. Later, I realized that one group was going to nearby Brunegghorn.
The other was a group of about 15 young boys with guides going to Barrhorn. The boys obviously had a good breakfast at the hut because soon many of them started going off the route and doing the usual things when nature calls, and others were waiting for them. This allowed me to pass them and the rest of my climb was in solitude.
I was at the summit at 8:15 AM. There was nobody around and I could enjoy the views and the early Sun for half an hour in perfect weather conditions, before cheerful boys arrived.
I stayed at the summit till 9 am and descended the same way, and arrived at the parking at 13:30, tired but happy. So for me, this was a 10-hours adventure, you may do it differently and you will enjoy it whichever way you do it. I was carrying food, and 2 liters of water which I used all.
Remember that you pass the hut along this route, and you may have a proper meal and get water (but not for free) there. Here are a few photos with great views around:
To summarize, climbing a mountain of 3610 m is never easy, however, the route is indeed straightforward and without dangerous sections. Only about twenty minutes above the hut there is a short section with some fixed cables. So in general, this is just a walk-up, but do not underestimate the altitude, you will feel it in every step you make.
Note also that from the parking you do not have to walk along the road, there are some other paths on the left side of the water stream, which will get you to the same direction. Once on the summit of Barrhorn, you will have an ideal overview of the glacier route to Bishorn which I climbed a few years before that. You will also have a nice view of the first neighbor Brunegghorn.
If the weather is fine, you will be able to see the Aletsch glacier, the largest in the Alps, in the north-east direction. If you are in the area and want to play it safe and hire a guide, please follow this link, they will find you somebody from the local area who will take you safely to any of the summits around.
Regarding accommodation in this part of the Alps, I myself have been renting apartments through Booking.com. They have plenty of options with fully equipped apartments, houses, and hotels. You can save a lot through their loyalty program.
I hope you find the text above useful. It will be a great pleasure to see your comments in the box below.
Here is a useful video from YouTube with the climb to Barrhorn: