Bishorn 4153 m

Our story

We had been on a break for a few days to let the snow storms pass, so we decided we’d meet up in Zinal on the morning of the 3rd of April. I arrived in Zinal at about 10 pm after a drive through drifting snow at the Simplon Pass, found a quiet spot where to park my car for the night, folded down the back seat and made myself comfortable (or, as comfortable as possible since I was surrounded by climbing gear, skis and boots) – in double sleeping bags since the temperature was around -10 °C. After a surprisingly good nights sleep I met up with Emma and Hanna, who was joining us for a few days – this would be her first 4000 m peak! 

The approach 

Having loaded up with croissants and sandwiches at a bakery we geared up and began the long approach to Cabane de Tracuit, where we would spend the night. Although we knew that the approach would be long, I don’t think anyone of us had actually realized just how long this approach actually was… But the surroundings were mind-blowingly beautiful and the slopes not too steep, so at first we just really enjoyed it all.

A few hours in we began running out of water, since the sun was scorching and everything was taking a bit longer than anticipated. I still had a few sips left in my bottle, but Emma and Hanna had to resort to filling their bottles up with snow and keeping them inside their shirts to melt the snow. A good way to cool off as well I guess! Then, when we had just done a small descent and begun making our way up a nice, steep slope, the clouds rolled in and it began to snow. Just a little at first, but it increased as we progressed, reducing visibility a lot, so we had no idea how far we were from the hut. At this point we were getting a bit tired, since we had already done about +1500 m and 10 km, but the hut was nowhere to be seen. Luckily there were some good tracks that we could follow, and the slopes gradually got steeper and steeper. After quite a few narrow kick-turns we reached a short via ferrata, and as we reached the ridge we could finally see the hut, right there on the ridge.

A lovely, warm dinner was ready right after we arrived, which was amazing – we definitely needed to fuel up after the long approach. We were even treated to a little concert as one of the other guests picked up a guitar and started playing – we loved the atmosphere here! As much as we would have loved to stay up and enjoy the party we headed to bed early to recharge our batteries for the long day that awaited us.

The climb 

In the morning we woke up at about 6, had a quick breakfast and then stepped outside into the freezing cold air. The clouds had disappeared during the night, whisked away by the strong cold winds that would accompany us for most of the ascent. We were the first ones to leave the hut, and after putting our skis on we headed towards Bishorn. The mountain was now clearly visible, which was a nice change from the previous day – we all agreed that everything feels easier when you can actually see your goal!

The climb starts with crossing the glacier. The snow had covered up all the crevasses really well, so it all went quick and smooth (except for the cold, which had all three of us feeling like we literally were about to freeze our butts off! This was a new feeling for me, I’m used to having cold hands and feet, but cold butt cheeks was something entirely new 😅). We took a short break at the pass right where the steeper section of the climb begins, and then continued our slow and steady progress towards the summit.

There were a few icy sections on the slope, that we crossed carefully, but otherwise it was a very straight forward ascent all the way to the final snow ridge. Here we left our skis and climbed the last 20 meters or so to the summit, where an amazing view of the surrounding mountains awaited us. All in all it took us about 4 and a half hours to reach the summit.

The descent

Oh… the descent. When we stood on the summit we had NO idea how long, and how physically and mentally rough this descent would be! The snow on the higher part of the mountain was actually not too bad – since it had snowed in the previous days there was about 40 cm of fresh snow covered by a bit of a crust that had been formed by the wind. Quite smooth to turn in, but extremely tiring for our poor legs! This, combined with the altitude, meant that we barely managed to string more than 4-5 turns together before needing to stop and take a breather. Lower down however we got some really nice turns in before the flat section leading back to the hut.

Since we were a bit ahead of schedule we decided to take a real break at the hut and have some lunch (this turned out to be a very good decision!). After stuffing our bellies with the best rösti ever we reluctantly headed back out. I think all three of us wouldn’t have minded spending another night in the hut before heading down to the valley, but we needed to get back down, so out we went. We strapped our skis on our backpacks for the short via ferrata, and then stopped right below it to put them on. And then 4 meters lower down both me and Emma removed them again – it was too steep for us! Hanna, who is a stronger skier than both of us, managed to get a few turns in while we walked down the steepest section to put our skis on further down.

From this point on I don’t even know how to describe the descent! The snow was getting really wet and heavy, which made each turn exhausting. And the further down we got, the more the snow had melted, and more rocks were hiding right below the surface, seemingly just waiting to scratch our skis. I’m normally quite comfortable with off piste skiing, but this was rough! And for Emma, who hasn’t skied for that long, it was even harder – she needed to take her skis off and carry them through some sections. Lower down every turn scraped the snow off to reveal grass and bushes underneath – not exactly ideal skiing conditions.

Shortly before the section where the tracks pass through the forest before reaching the valley floor Emma decided that she would just walk down instead and asked me and Hanna to ski down ahead of her since we would be a bit faster. Normally we wouldn’t split up – but at this point we had passed all objective hazards (no avalanche danger or crevasses) so we decided it would be okay for this time. Hanna and I slided back down towards the parking, amazed at how far away it still was – we must have been so distracted by the surroundings while we headed up that we didn’t realize what a long distance we were covering! We got to the cars at about 7.30 pm, almost 12 hours after leaving the hut in the morning. Emma reached us about an hour later, right before dark.

Exhausted but satisfied with our efforts we quickly packed up and went looking for dinner! No luck in Zinal since everything closes early, so we ended up leaving the valley and enjoying a luxurious meal at the nearest McDonalds at about 10 pm before we could finally get some well deserved rest in the van.

All in all, a couple of very long but very satisfying days!

/Emma Håkansdotter



Bishorn 4153 m

Route & grade

Normal Route from Cabane de Tracuit, F


Pennine Alps, Switzerland

Start of climb



12,5 km from Zinal to Cabane de Tracuit via the winter route

5 km from Cabane de Tracuit to the summit of Bishorn

Elevation gain

+1730 m from Zinal to Cabane de Tracuit (winter route)

+900 from the hut to the summit

Estimated time

6-8 hours for the approach to the hut via the winter route

3-4 hours to the summit from the hut

About the route

No major difficulties (watch out for crevasses though!), but this is a LONG route! Even just the approach to the hut is a big day, and while the summit is quite easy to reach from the hut the descent is never ending. So be prepared for two full days!

When to climb

Spring – summer. This is a very good peak to do on skis, since it makes the long descent a bit faster 🙂

Gear to bring

Ski touring equipment, 30-40 m rope, harness, crampons, ice axe, glacier rescue gear, helmet.

GPS Track


Through the forest!

Up over nice, gentle slopes.

Amazing views!

The via ferrata right before the hut.

Ready to leave in the early morning!

We were unroped for a short section before reaching the glacier.

Roping up to cross the glacier.

The summit of Bishorn clearly in sight.

On the final slopes near the summit.

The ridge to the summit, we left our skis right below this spot.

Summit 3 of 82!