"Sobriety saves lives. I should know, it saved mine."
Support our intrepid team of Summit for Danny climbers as they hike through the Swiss Alps. Each climber pays for their own trip expenses and fundraises a minimum of $1,500 for adolescent substance abuse treatment at the Daniel Bryant Youth and Family Center by asking their friends and family to support their climb.
This year we had so many hikers wanting to join our Summit for Danny Team that we had to schedule two consecutive trips to accommodate everyone: one group will hike from September 7-12 and another from September 13-17. Follow their journey through the Swiss alps, where trails lead to remote hamlets, glacial lakes and green pastures, over hidden mountain passes and beside sparkling glaciers, where they will delight in panoramic vistas of the winding Gornergletscher, the second-largest ice field in the Alps.
After meeting in Interlaken, the group will shuttle to Adelboden, a charming Swiss alpine village in the Bernese Oberland (Highlands), then set out on a hike through the Adelboden Valley, a region with stunning scenery and crisp alpine air—the perfect introduction to walking in Switzerland. A gondola ride up to Sillerenbühl station (6,500 feet) takes hikers to the Wildflower Trail, which they will follow to Hahnenmoos Pass. Here, they will enjoy breathtaking views of the Adelboden and Lenk Valleys. Hikers can continue hiking a bit higher for more great vistas, then descend past small cheese huts and a babbling brook to Geils, where a local bus or Trotti bike (a two-wheeled push scooter) will return them to Adelboden.
Today our team hikes across the historic Gemmi Pass, an ancient trade route used since Roman times. To reach the trail they shuttle to gorgeous Kandersteg, a town nestled in the broad Kander Valley beneath the towering Blümlisalp and Doldenhorn peaks. It's long been an important mountaineering center and a favored destination of European travelers, becoming far more accessible in 1913 when a 9-mile railroad tunnel created a direct link between Bern and the Rhône Valley. Kandersteg is also known for abundant wildflowers and Simmental cattle, which can be seen munching on the lush grass of mountain pastures.
Just past the center of Kandersteg the hikers arrive at the Sunnbüel cable car, which whisks them up to 6,300 feet. Then they head out on a gradual uphill climb along a wide path through the Spittel Valley, passing the shimmering glacier-fed Daubensee (see means "lake" in German). Dwarfed by the surrounding Bernese Alps, they make their way up to Gemmi Pass (7,600 feet), where on a clear day they will be treated to views of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa, Switzerland's highest peak at 15,200 feet. After lunch along the trail, the Gemmibahn cable car transports them down a steep rock face—a vertical drop that was once a formidable obstacle to anyone wanting to cross the pass. At the bottom is Leukerbad, the largest thermal center in Switzerland, where picturesque narrow streets are lined with old chalets, shops and cafés. Hikers can experience Leukerbad's healing powers at Les Sources des Alpes, their home for the next two nights, set atop the waters' wellspring are are invited to an alphorn concert performed by local musicians in traditional costume. The alphorn was traditionally used by alpine herdsmen and villagers to announce daily activities and can reach 13 feet in length.
Today our hikers come prepared to cross patches of snow and ice during a challenging hike, with jaw-dropping views an ample reward for their efforts. Their journey begins in the Dala Valley with a walk along a trail built into the side of a thermal gorge. As they cross the canyon on a high suspension bridge, they will admire a thundering waterfall. Those who opt to hike further will proceed on a steep and steady climb flanked by majestic mountains. Here they will relish a quintessential Swiss scene of flower-filled alpine meadows and herds of soft-eyed milk cows adorned with leather collars and brass bells. A local cheese maker will meets the group in Flüealp and demonstrate the intricate age-old process by which this classic Swiss delicacy is made. After a picnic lunch, which of course includes a taste or two of deliciously fresh cheeses, they will continue up the valley to a hidden chapel built into the mountain. The return route takes them down the other side of the valley and back to Leukerbad.
Leaving Leukerbad the team will bus down to Leuk to catch the Glacier Express train to the picturesque car-free village of Zermatt. Through the train window, they'll see the higher and drier mountain scenery that differentiates the southern and northern sides of the Rhône Valley. Those who opt to hike today will head into the Zmutt Valley along a rugged mountainside footpath, past traditional huts and hamlets. In the village of Zmutt, they can check out the many interesting old homes and savor a slice of strudel or a cold drink. Then the hikers continue to the villages of Zum See and Blatten, where they'll find one of Ricola's herb gardens displaying signs describing the 13 fresh herbs used to make the world-renowned candy and teas. Those who are up for a challenge will continue climbing to Schwarzsee, where spectacular views await! Then the hikers return to Zermatt on foot or by gondola before settling in at the historic Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, their lovely home for the next two nights.
This morning our hikers take the Gornergrat Bahn partway up the mountain before hiking along a steep, well-manicured trail overlooking Zermatt. After passing the glacial Riffelsee, the trail ascends to the top of Gornergrat, a spectacular ridge. From here, hikers look down upon the bright blue pools and seemingly bottomless crevasses of the Gornergletscher, a glacier surrounded by the impressive peaks of Klein Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and Breithorn. If they listen carefully they may even hear the sounds of glaciers groaning and grumbling with movement. After lunch on the trail, our hikers continue hiking to Gornergrat (up another 1,000 feet) or head to the Rotenboden station and take a cog railway train to the summit. Those who are up for a bigger afternoon hike may follow the Monte Rosa route, which descends toward the Gorner Glacier and then climbs the back side of Gornergrat to reach the summit, where our intrepid hikers will pause at the top to celebrate the crowning athletic achievement of the week! Tonight the team gathers for a festive farewell dinner of Swiss specialties, including raclette and fondue.
Today our hikers are free to relish a leisurely morning at the hotel, lingering over breakfast and soaking up its magnificent vistas. Or, for those who'd like one last challenge, they may hike up to a mountain hut for views overlooking Zermatt and the surrounding peaks.