Often, it is that little extra something that makes a good thing better. Extra hours, extra climbing, extra fatigue – that is plus you get from our “bonus peaks.” Our route planner Janine always has one or another in mind before we take off. After we’ve been out for a few hours, then she adds as an aside that there is another possible summit for us to do. Or, she asks right out of nowhere, “Anybody interested in another small detour?”
Normally, we let out a short groan, but then we are ready to laugh and take it on. Even when your legs are already a bit tired, we learned one thing: The bonus peak and the effort are always worth it!
The route durch Valais is in itself a big challenge. Along the route there are so many tempting peaks that we just simply couldn’t say “no” to. Thus, on every stage, we sought out another optional summit for the especially motivated. The terrain here is normally technically very demanding, and in some cases, you also have to do a little scrambling to get all the way to the top. Some peaks demand just a short detour and are more or less on the route. Some on the other hand are best tackled directly at sunrise and before you head out on the day’s actual stage. On the fifth day, for example, you head up to the Cabane de Moiry refuge on the Pigne de la Lé. After summiting you run back again to the hut to indulge in a second cup of coffee and to fuel up for the route to Zinal. We couldn’t help ourselves and even had to take on the detour across the Üssers Barrhorn on the seventh stage. With its 3,610 meters, it is the highest mountain for hiking in Europe with a marked route all the way up. Our add-ons transform an already demanding day into a much longer one – but also make it that much more beautiful. Perhaps the most amazing bonus peak on the route is Mettlehorn (3,406 meters) on the final stage. At the Trift mountain hut, you can grab a delicious iced tea as fortification and then all you have left is the descent to Zermatt. If you haven’t had quite enough you can draw out the descent a little bit and instead climb the almost 1,100 meters of vert to Mettlehorn. From this spiny peak, you look directly onto the Matterhorn. You can then visually retrace the complete course and its route along the mountain chain across the various valleys from start to finish, directly under you.
If you do the bonus peak on each stage, the run would be a total of “only” 33.5 kilometers longer. But to that comes another hefty 4,199 meters of climbing.