On to the Rhône

Wow. Riding though the Alps has been spectacular! I had a long, tough day on Saturday, climbing about 4800 feet over 36 miles to get to the top of Oberalp pass, and the source of the Rhine – but it was absolutely worth it! Erin and I rode together as far as Disentis, where she smartly took the train to the top of the pass, leaving me to do the last 3000 feet / 13 miles on my own. It was a beautiful, amazing ride, full of jaw-dropping views and tight switchbacks. I only wish I had done it on a weekday, so as not to have to share the road with so many Ferraris, Maseratis, and many, many motorcyclists, all trying to take the hairpins as fast as possible.

One pass down
The olberalpsee at the top of the pass
View of Andermatt, about halfway down the pass

I was pretty wrecked by the time I met Erin at the bottom of the pass – what a ride that descent was – in the tourist ski-town of Andermatt, so we took Sunday off as a rest day. Too bad we forgot that the grocery stores are always closed on Sundays! Meals at Swiss restaurants are crazy pricey.

This morning (after resupplying as soon as the market opened) we set off to do our second Alpine pass, the Furka. This was was even more beautiful than the last! It was also pretty tough – nearly 3000 feet over 7.5 miles, an average grade of 7.2%, but oh, so worth it!

Switchbacks up Furka pass – as seen in Goldfinger!
Go Erin go!
A mountain stream on furka pass
Greg tries an alternate route up the mountain
We made it!!
On top of the world

After making it to the top, we started our rocket-ride down towards the newborn Rhone river, but not before making a stop to walk inside a freaking glacier!!! The Rhone is formed out of a glacial lake at the base of the Rhone glacier, and they have cut out an ice grotto you can walk through, preserved by layers of heavy UV resistant fabric. It was truly incredible – you could see little pockets of air that have been trapped in the glacier for hundreds of years. It was a little depressing to read all the signs about how much the glacier had retreated, and that it will pretty much be gone by the end of the century.

The Rhône glacier – you can see the preserved ice grotto at the base
Walking inside the glacier!!!
Erin searches for The Thing
Greg finds an ice bench

After touring the glacier, we continued our descent, eventually meeting up with the river and following it through more cute little mountain towns. Luckily, we made it to our campsite and set up the tent just before a thunderstorm started dumping hail down on us!

In nearly every village, and often between villages, there are little spring-fed water fountains – a life saver in a country where a litre bottle of water can cost $4

One thought on “On to the Rhône”

  1. OMG! You guys are truly in the trip of a lifetime! Amazing climbs you both have done; the downhills must have been a tremendous rush. And walking through a glacier — how cool is that. Just wow!!

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