Le Moleson, Bernese Alps, Switzerland

6:15 p.m. on June 23, 2014 (EDT)
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The Moleson is part of the Swiss Prealps, which is essentially the edge of the Bernese Alps. It stands at 6568 feet, with a prominence of 1680 feet. Because it stands somewhat removed from the more "congested" chains, it provides an excellent lookout into the surrounding area.


I have had an obsession with doing this hike for a while now, and it started quite randomly when I was looking up some information on cheese of all things. The village of Gruyeres is at the foothills of The Moleson. While looking it up, I stumbled on a photo of this mountain, and since then I have wanted to hike it. Even though its not particularly high for Swiss Alp standards, it is quite shapely... and really, if this was situated anywhere else, it would be quite a standout!
 

This past weekend, I decided to just go ahead and do it. I booked a last minute flight to Geneva, got the necessary hotels, and did it!

Like any good hiking trip, it started with some simple gear planning, and I decided to go fairly lightweight, especially since I was traveling with just a carry-on. I took my TNF Angstrom 20 bag, Merrell Protera minimalist hiking shoes, TNF Venture rain shell (just in case), an OR Neoplume primaloft jacket in case it got cold on the summit (it didnt!), 3L source bladder, a Rab Boreas wind shirt, OR backcountry kit with my essentials (sunscreen was a big one!), my calories for the hike (4 gels, and 2 cliff bars), Fuji X20 camera, and Fizan ultralite poles.
Moleson-hike-gear.jpg

Because the forecast was for 27 degrees during the day, the smart thing to do was have an early morning or "alpine" start. Of course logistics dictated otherwise, and I started my morning in Geneva... took a two hour train to Bulle, got checked in and started my hike in the burning mid-day sun at 12:15! That wouldn't stop me, this was a dream I was fulfilling!

You can start at Bulle and walk to Gruyere at the foothills. Its about 1 hour, and while the scenery is pretty, its not that exciting and rather flat, so I wouldn't recommend it, and would just take a train if I were to do it over again. Still The Moleson is in sight, and serves as a good motivator.


Moleson-from-Bulle.jpg

Once in Gruyeres, you can see it towering over the landscape, summit in the clouds. It looks both inviting and imposing, and only furthered my excited as I pushed along. At the edge of Gruyeres is where the well marked trails begin.


Moleson-from-Gruyeres.jpg

The trails for the first 3000 feet alternate between wooded trails, alpine meadows, and fields of very happy cows responsible for delicious swiss cheeses and chocolates!


Wooded trails:


alpine-forest-trail.jpg

Looking back at some lovely meadows and some very nice looking peaks... I wish I could summit them all!
approaching-Moleson.jpg

Starting to get closer and closer, and my heart starts to beat a little faster. A combination of fatigue, adrenaline, maybe a bit of sun exposure!
Le-Moleson.jpg

There is right of access for hikers, which means you often have to pass through farm land. Even though the cows are quite big and can be intimidating they are incredibly docile, and kinda cute.


some-happy-cows.jpg

alpine-cows.jpg

On the way up, you pass through several villages, whose economy centers mostly on cheese making, and tourism.

As you wind your way up the mountain you get to enjoy it from multiple angles, though progress appears slow as it always seems to be towering above you.
approaching-le-Moleson.jpg

Finally, getting closer and the cliff edges are in clear view.


summit-approach2.jpg

As you wind your way around the back of the mountain, the final summit approach comes in clear view. After the initial trail, it is mostly smooth wet stone from run-off melting snow, or fine loose scree so you have to be a little careful.


summit-approach.jpg

Now finally at the top! There are several peaks connected by a ridge. The drop-off is fairly steep but there is a chain to grab onto.


Moleson-Summit2.jpg

Because there is skiing on this mountain, there is a Gondola that goes to the top, so that does draw tourists that summit the easy way! Not a fan, but it is what it is. Thankfully the majority of the hike is unspoilt. The good news is that if you want to make the hike shorter, you can start at segments much closer to the summit. I made it about as long as you can, but I enjoy pushing myself, and the distance I traveled is certainly not necessary to have an amazing day out.


Moleson-summit.jpg

In the distance, you can see where I started my hike in Bulle.


view-from-Moleson-summit.jpg

After exploring the entire summit, I finally took my first, and well earned break of the day!


resting-on-Moleson-summit.jpg

Where I got to enjoy some stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Bernese Alps.


Bernese-alps.jpg

After that, I walked all the way back. The day was long and hot, and I was a little tired. I admittedly had no sleep the night before due to sheer excitement, but I was still running on adrenalin. After a couple of hours, I found myself back in Bulle, where I settled into a nice outdoor patio, watched some world cup soccer with the friendly locals and had a nice meal.


It was a fantastic trip and was even more fun than I could have imagined. I cant wait to go back to Switzerland to tackle a few bigger mountains!

I commemorated my trip by purchasing one of these little guys; a Victorinox SAK Climber. I figured its as good a momento for the occasion as I could think of, and also one of the few models I could take as a carry-on for direct flights back to the UK.


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(image from Victorinox website)

8:40 p.m. on June 23, 2014 (EDT)
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Switzerland?!?!

This is unfair! (JK... just jealous you went to Switzerland!)

Beautiful Photos!

10:06 p.m. on June 23, 2014 (EDT)
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Excellent! Very scenic. I want t go there (Switzerland) to see the Eiger and maybe hike around the lower trails.

11:01 a.m. on June 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Man, oh, man. Can you say jealous?!  Great pics, looks like a fun trip! Thanks TJ1984

11:18 a.m. on June 24, 2014 (EDT)
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<------ Also envious.  Amazing place!  Makes you wonder why out ancestors ever left.

11:46 a.m. on June 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks all, but no need to be envious. I guess the grass is always greener because there are a lot of places in the US and Canada I wish I could hike right now!

12:03 p.m. on June 24, 2014 (EDT)
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Wow, hard not to be a little envious, such picturesque scenes.  Thanks for sharing some of the details on your pack; I love seeing what other people carry and always learn something from it. 

6:23 p.m. on June 24, 2014 (EDT)
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MPaint said:

Wow, hard not to be a little envious, such picturesque scenes.  Thanks for sharing some of the details on your pack; I love seeing what other people carry and always learn something from it. 

 I did it for my previous trip report as well, and I think its something I will continue to do. We discuss gear so often, and the heart of this website is gear reviews, so in that context I think its great to highlight gear as it is being used. It also gives me a chance to analyze the gear I use, and in that way, hopefully make smarter decisions as to what I really need to bring.

7:31 a.m. on June 25, 2014 (EDT)
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TJ1984 said:

... the heart of this website is gear reviews, so in that context I think its great to highlight gear as it is being used. It also gives me a chance to analyze the gear I use, and in that way, hopefully make smarter decisions as to what I really need to bring.

 That's a great point.  I may start adding that as well.  It might force me to refine my choices a bit if I know people are asking themselves, "Why is he carrying a 3 lbs. chair?"  or "could anyone possibly eat that much food?"

Thanks, hope I didn't take things too off topic.

9:52 a.m. on June 25, 2014 (EDT)
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very cool TJ....yeah I agree, the pack stuff is interesting

TJ, are you as organized in all areas as your pack contents seem to imply? :)

1:22 p.m. on June 25, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing, TJ! Switzerland looks beautiful. You got some really nice shots!

2:03 p.m. on June 25, 2014 (EDT)
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re Patman: I try to stay fairly organized with most things lol my OCD about pack neatness is just a way to avoid frustration when searching for stuff during the hike..

re Ashleigh: thank you it was really breathtaking, I cant wait to go back!

11:27 a.m. on June 27, 2014 (EDT)
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Beautiful trip, TJ. Thanks for sharing it.

I was lucky enough to go to Switzerland a few years ago. We have good friends living in Geneva we saw there and then headed to Grindelwald for a week of hiking and relaxing.

The Eiger and the whole area are stunning.

3:01 p.m. on June 27, 2014 (EDT)
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I'm sold I always thought Switzerland looked great for hiking, 

6:59 a.m. on June 29, 2014 (EDT)
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Wonderful report. Those looked like some very fat and happy cows, and I can see why! Way to go in fulfilling a dream.

November 24, 2014
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