Via ferrata Leukerbad Gemmi Daubenhorn (D, var E) Switzerland

The Leukerbad Gemmi Daubenhorn via ferrata is one of the most beautiful and challenging routes in Switzerland. Located in Leukerbad, Valais, Switzerland, in the Walliser Alps, it is a very long, South-East facing ferrata, spanning over 5 hours and 45 min, and requires significant strength and courage to complete it. The via ferrata goes up to an altitude of 2.942m at the top of the Daubenhorn. The entire tour has a total vertical ascent of 1.150m, of which 930m is the via ferrata. It is rated D, with some variants in the second part offering D/E and E segments.

Summary

Grade: D, var Eview topo
Vertical: 930m ferrata, 1150m total
Time: 30min approach, 5h45min ferrata, 1h45min descent, 8h total
Access / Parking: 46.3837,7.6251Google Maps or any Android maps app
Start via ferrata: 46.3939,7.615Mapy.cz or any Android maps app
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Maps

Access

You get to Leukerbad and park at the base of the Gemmibahn cable car, then take it to the top station, at Gemmipass (2346 m).

Approach to start

The approach to the start of the via ferrata takes approximately 30 minutes from Gemmipass, where you arrive by cable car. Hike down to a large information board, turn right and start a traverse until you reach the via ferrata cable.

If you wish to skip the cable car up, you can also hike from Leukerbad, in which case you need to add another 650m altitude for the ascent, in about 1h 30min or more, on a demanding trail. This will make an already long tour even harder.

The route

The route is long, with several airy passages and long ladders. The first part is considered the “small via ferrata” and makes up for about 1 third of the entire route. It has a C/D segment too. This “small ferrata” ends with 3 ladders in succession and you reach a meadow, where you can take a short rest. Here is the only exit from the route, but not an easy one in bad weather.

If you continue upwards, you enter the “large via ferrata”. This is where you’ll climb several C/D segments and you have the option to choose a variant of D/E or E, which both can be avoided by going up a C segment. There is also an airy pillar and long ladders. “Via Konst” is another section on the ferrata advertised as extremely airy. This section, however, can be skipped by going around it on a walking path. The last ladder is a 30-meter long one, slightly overhanging in the upper part. After it, you hike up for a few minutes to the summit of Daubenhorn (2942m).

Descent

From Daubenhorn summit, in about 1 hour and 45 minutes you reach the upper cable car station of Gemmibahn. To get there you first go towards the Daubenhorn glacier. This glacier receded a lot due to global warming and you don’t need to bring crampons. The descent route goes below the glacier, to the northwest, or straight across the glacier if the conditions allow it. After that, you follow the white-blue-white marked track downhill over the scree to Lämmerenboden, then right back to the Gemmi Pass (2346 m).

Good to know

Depending on the snow conditions, the via ferrata is usually open from mid to end of June until the first Friday of October.

Over 2km of steel cable and 200 meters of ladders are used in its construction.

Very long ferrata, so pay extra attention to the weather and bring enough food and water. The only available exit will be hard during bad weather.

Times are given for approach and descent with Gemmibahn cable car, so it is better to take the first cable car up and make sure you’re back in time before the last one down. Check timetable and prices at https://www.gemmi.ch. Otherwise you are looking at an extra 1200m descent on foot on a demanding trail, or a night at Gemmi Lodge, if there are free beds.

You can combine this ferrata with via ferrata Erlebnisklettersteig Gemmiwand Leukerbad, at Gemmipass, if you have enough time and strength for both.

You could look into Gemmi Lodge at 2350m as an overnight option. Currently (in 2023), staying at Gemmi Lodge includes free transportation via Gemmibahn for both arrival and departure. Staying there would give you more time to climb the second ferrata as well.

Leukerbad is known as Loèche-les-Bains in French, Leiggerbad in Walliser German, and Baadu locally.

The “Via Konst” section is named after Konstantin Grichting, initiator and co-creator of the via ferrata, who died in an accident at work.

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