Cycling, Motorhoming & Hiking From The Oberalp Pass (2044 metres)

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Saturday 28 July 2018

Cycling, Motorhoming & Hiking From The Oberalp Pass (2044 metres)

Our destination after leaving the remote and beautiful Susten Pass was the slightly lower Oberalp Pass a little further to the south. Our reason for coming here, aside from our habit of seeking out steep roads to cycle up, was the fact that we had heard there was a permitted motorhome parking at the top. This was, indeed, true. What we didn’t know before we arrived, however, was that it would also turn out to be a pleasant base to spend a few days of hiking and cycling.

On our first day at the pass I took a rest in the motorhome while Esther ventured out for an afternoon ride up the east side of the pass, a 21 km ride with an average gradient of just 4.4%. In practice this means a mostly gentle ride for some 12 km followed by 9 km of much steeper ascent up some lovely switchbacks.

The following day we headed out in our trail shoes to try a hiking loop we’d spotted on the map. First we made a rapid ascent some 640 metres up to the interesting named peak of Pazolastock, from where we were able to appreciate a stupendous panoramic view over the surrounding summits and valleys. We then hastened downhill to the Tomasee lake (or Lai de Tuma) at 234 metres, a spectacular body of water nestled in a cup of mountains which also happens to be the source of the mighty Rhine river which runs 1230 kilometres all the way to the North Sea.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, this region of Switzerland sits right on the European Continental Watershed. The source of four major rivers can be found close together (Rhone, Rhine, Ticino and Reuss), two of which discharge south and two of which discharge north. Depending on a shift of just a few kilometres, a rain cloud may find it’s cargo ultimately ending up travelling thousands of kilometres in opposite directions.

Our final adventure at the Oberalp Pass was a high speed ascent of the west side on our bikes, starting in Andermatt and racing up the 11 km, 5.7 % road to the top in about 45 minutes. Basically the climb involves 9 hard kilometres followed by an almost flat run in around the Oberalp See where Esther left me for dead.

Overall, the Oberalp Pass was a nice place to spend a few days. However, with building works going on during our stay there, plenty of traffic out for a drive and daytime helicopters passing overhead every few minutes as they ferried concrete uphill to whatever it was they were building, it was also quite a loud place to be as well.

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