Kandertal Valley, The Bernese Alps, Switzerland
For our 3rd annual visit to the Alps with the 1034 (Surbiton) Squadron Air Training Corps, we chose to go to Kandersteg in the Bernese Alps. This was a little different to the last two years, being a German speaking part of Switzerland, camping only at 1200 metres, being part of a small busy town and having 3 lifts close by. We camped at Camping Rendez-Vous where Hansruedi and Marianne made us feel very welcome.
The first day we went up the cable car to Allmenalp and on up to First and continuing down and round to Elsigenalp and back down to Kandersteg. The following day we went north down the valley and round to Kiental. There we took the chair lift and followed the Nordramp walk back to Kandersteg. Whilst on the walk we met the alphorn player who was playing a carbon fibre alphorn for the benefit of other walkers. You meet all sorts!
The next day we took the gondola lift to Oeschinen and then walked past the Oeschinensee Lake and up to the Blumlisalphutte. The weather was deteriorating and it was with some relief we arrived at the hut in mid afternoon. This was another hut without fresh drinking water which takes a little bit of management. Bottled water was about £7.50 for 2 litres – as with all the supplies (and the staff) it has to be brought in by helicopter. We returned to Kandersteg the following day. On Thursday we took the minibus up the Kander Valley to Selden and walked to the Kanderfirn Glacier. This was quite a hike because much of the path had been damaged by stone fall in the recent bad weather.
The final day was a bit easier, taking the cable car to Sunnbuel and then walking to the top of Gallihorn. On the way down to Kandersteg we stopped at Usser Uschene for a lunch of Rosti. In the evening we had another excellent barbeque of shoulder of lamb in the BBQ hut.
The camp was quite a challenge for the 16 year old cadets, living in a different culture, walks with typically 1000 metres of ascent, different food, dealing with the basics of the alpine hut and managing the showers (1 SFr gave you 3 minutes)
One cadet said of the trip “This trip has been a truly wonderful experience. It’s opened my eyes to what is out there” and another said “The trip was the best cadet experience that I have ever been on, nothing compares to it”. What more can we say.
I would like to thank the other staff, Danny and Hayley and all the cadets (Chris, Dominic, Hamish, James, Kieran, Matt, Ollie and Richard) for making it such a good trip. I would also like to thank the Ulysses Trust and the 1034 (Surbiton) Squadron CO, staff and committee who supported us.