The Lohner Berg in the Engstligenalp peaks at the soaring height of 3000 meters and makes a challenging and typically Swiss mountain-climbing experience. If you lodge in Adelboden you can easily reach the mountain early in the morning to get started.
The Old Man
My father, brother, and I set out early in the morning up the mountain along a nice, well-worn path. After about an hour of comfortably trekking upward we turned a corner to see an ancient, bent old man of at least 80 with a bushy white beard carrying three 7 foot tall logs over his shoulder as he trudged steadily uphill. He turned and greeted us with a friendly “Grützi” and my dad addressed him in German asking “Good morning Öhi (grandpa in the Swiss dialect) what are you carrying those posts for?” The old man answered that he was going up to his cattle-herd in a meadow halfway up the mountain to repair a fence, and that he had made this trip every day for the last week. Suitably impressed by the ridiculously tough old guy we passed and pressed on up the mountain
The mountain has a path and about halfway up the mountain you reach the Lohnerhütli (little Lohner hut) which is a tiny cabin containing provisions, sleeping arrangements for travelers and a log to record your arrival for posterity. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The path to the hut, while well-worn and made as safe as possible, still included bits where your weight was suspended by a chain cemented into the wall, that you would then climb up to reach a ledge or the next but of trail. After several of these bits we reached a wooden fence behind which a few cows grazed nonchalantly. Somehow the old man climbed this while lugging huge fence-posts. For that matter I now wondered how he had originally lugged those cows up there. When they were calves? because there was definitely no way for them to have gotten up there on their own. Whatever the case, my own first-world problems suddenly seemed kind of pathetic. Ironic considering that Switzerland is one of the most first world of first world countries. But hey, rural life in mountains and cold weather breeds ridiculously tough people.
We spent the night in the Lohner hut since attempting the summit at this time of day, or more importantly coming down from it wouldn’t have been particularly wise. The stay at the hut is quaint and somehow just feels quintessentially Swiss what with it being set on a grassy meadow that crops out and is surrounded by plunging cliffs on three sides. Looking down you can get a frighteningly good view of the town in the valley directly below (very very far below)
If you get a chance then getting up onto the Lohner mountain is well worth the trouble. The view is mind-blowing and all around it’s an invigorating experience.