Day 12 Saturday 27 August Gruben to Jungen and Gasenried

Today involved the crossing of the Augstbordpass, the final pass of the trek. The day started clear and sunny as I set off from the hotel . There was a nice, easy ascent across pastures before I entered woodland.

Early morning in the Turtmanntal
The start of the path to Augstbordpass

On the way up I chatted to a couple of Americans from Texas who I also talked to in the Gruben hotel. I was surprised how many Americans were in the trek but then I remembered there were quite a few US web sites organising TMB and Haute Route treks. Several of the groups I spoke to were combining the trek with city visits in Europe. Jamie and his wife (who I spent the afternoon with in Zinal) were coming to York but Angela and I were away so we couldn’t meet up.

The path continued to climb steadily through the forest. Felix and Thora caught up with me in a clearing and I got a rare picture of me on trek

The path re-entered forest and emerged again on a flat grassy area with the final pass in front of me

At the end of the grassy area the path crossed stony ground and steepened to arrive at the Augstbord pass.

Looking west from the Augstbordpass

There was now a steep and stony descent. There was meant to be a good view of the Mischabel, the ridge and peaks that make up the east wall of the Mattertal, but the peaks were in cloud.

At the bottom of the steep section the path crossed to the east side of the valley and then climbed slightly. It passed over boulder fields and then became a thin but good path with some exposure to the steep slopes to the left. Eventually it rounded a spur and I had my first view of the glaciers and peaks above Zermatt. The Matterhorn remained out of view, hidden by the Mettelhorn.

I now turned south towards Zermatt. Initially the path remained fairly level but soon I started to descend steeply, in zigzags to the hamlet of Jungen.

Jungen with the village of Grachen in the distance on the other side of the valley.
The Riedbach glacier and torrent which I will cross tomorrow

At Jungen I had the choice of an extremely steep descent through forest or a cable car ride down to St Nicholas. I chose the cable car to try to take some stress off my knee and went to the hut. Here there was an ancient four seat car with some instructions in German. There was a phone number which I rang. The man who answered spoke no English. I do not speak German but we both spoke a little French and he told me the cable car would leave in 5 minutes.

At St Nicholas I chose to take a bus to Grachen rather than start a 200m climb at 5 in the afternoon. Grachen is the start of the Europaweg, the path which I will follow to Zermatt. The first part is a very easy 20 minute section to Gasenried where I had a bed booked for the night. The hotel terrace had a good view of the east side of the valley and was an excellent place to enjoy steak and chips

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