FKT: Mario Hipleh - Alpine Passes Trail - 2022-09-22

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
15d 15h 19m 31s

Day 1--> St.Moritz - Savognin. 44/695k, 2'650/47'000m altitude up, 3800m down, 6/32 passes done.

The beginning of the Alpine Passes Trail thru the Engadin is already my favorite part. I felt all day long like hiking on the moon plus there where many moranes from extinct glaciers.

Met a young woman today whom camped at 2'800 m.a.s last night. Then the thunderstorm hit the valley she had been in. She had her fair share of adventure and headed straight home.

Also me got very lucky today. Just a liltte overcast. Wouldn't want to do that section in rain or worse. Slippery rocks plus tricky to navigate it is when wet.


Day 2 --> Savognin - Splügen. 76/695k, 5'200/47'000m altitude, 8/32 passes done.

Had a late start due to heavy rain in the morning. The weather also turned rivers into raging waters and the trail into a stream. Had wet feet all day and no time to waste.

That's why I kept this delicous protein-chips-nuts-cheese-tortilla-lunch short.

The second part of the day got me in a surprise: first a fair steep incline through a forest, followed by a hardly ever used trail that took a while to tackle. After a "währschafts" dinner everything's fine though :)


Day 3 --> Splügen - Vella. 122/695k, 8'050/47'000m altitude, 10/32 passes done.

Woke up dehydrated. Very dehydrated. But let's face the facts: It rained last night. A lot. Contrary to the weather reports prediction. Had a cold start in the morning and crossed the pass into Safien Valley for lunch.

Hiked a second leg in the afternoon and hiked into Val Lumneza, where I met Gian, a shepperd of 170 cows and his dog Maxi. The bernaise sennendoggo made a lot of noise when he saw me, but turned into the sweetest puppy as soon as he got his daily cuddle dose. What a sweet boy.


Day 4 --> Vella - Cap Mott. 162/695k, 12'100/47'000m altitude, 12/32 passes done.

One more rainy morning. Encountered a hiker going in my direction on the first pass but lost his sight in the fog. Ran down to Vrin for a delicious Flammkuchen.
Of course my mysterious follower entered the same restaurant after a while wearin' ultra light gear. We talked and walked for a while and he stopped at his hotel while I finally found my way up to the greina plateau! Another spot like out of Lord of the Rings. Ran a tibetian hang bridge stretching over a river.

Took the alternate route to Cap Mott soon after beeing reassured at Hut Terry not to go Scalettas because of an 'incident'.  I hope they are okay. Ran Into the night with snowflakes dancing in front of my headlamp...


Day 5 --> Cap Mott - Airolo. 208/695k, 14'260/47'000m altitude, 14/32 passes done.

Ticino: Welcome to the sunny livingroom of Switzerland - and Houston, we have a problem. Came by Lago di Luzzone and oh boy, the waterline hung pretty low. Same thing later on at Lago Ritom. Where have all those melted glaciers gone?

Ran through a couple of rough mountain tunnels and one avalange gallery by accident but fortunatly didn't got hit by a car. That was so far the scariest experience i guess.

The little villages in the valley are beautiful. I still prefer hiking above the treeline. Crossed 2 Passes and to my amazement came by a spot my friend Luki and me camped at a couple of weeks prior.

From Paso Sole on it was mostly a downhill until I'd reached Airolo for a big vegan Burger with fries.


Day 5 --> Airolo - Rif. Margaroli (I). 250/695k, 18'410/47'000m altitude, 17/32 passes done.

I wake up - shivering. It's 5 a.m. and my down sleeping bag is soaked. I tighten the wet bag as much as possible and move my body until the sun rises around 6.30. How did that happen? Artificial floors (like those from airolos cable cars roofs) seem to attract humidity when they cool down. I look tired and feel humiliated.

That's why I shift down a gear and just enjoy the day with a little swim in the river plus some beauty time in the sun.

Got a fine dinner at Cap. Corno Gries after the walk up Nufenen Pass and experienced a dying Gries Glacier while exploring Swiss Bunkers facing Italy. That's some hardcore History right there folks!

Ciao Ticino - Bona sera Italia.
Ran the trail down into Italy - the general direction of Domodossola, then took a right over another Pass and made my cowboy camp for the night right there, just above Lago Vannino.


Day 6 --> Rif. Margaroli (I) - Rosswald. 287/695k, 19'760/47'000m altitude, 20/32 passes done.

I woke up pretty relaxed, and that's no lie. Cowboy camping above the treeline is still a thing in late september in bella Italia. Good for me.

The mountain hut people from Rif. Margaroli served a rich breakfast. Soon after I drank water out of a rich river and headed back to Switzerland - only to find out that I'd walked yet another trail (the third) that I already experienced in the past.

Hiked over the scree of Scata Morra followed by Albrun pass and ran all the way to a lunch in Binn. Had the pasta. They weren't al dente. Underwhelmed.

Thought It'll be a walk in the park to Rosswald. It was quiet the opposite: Had to get up from 1300 meters and across the Saflisch pass with over 2500 meters first - but there was a big reward!

The valais showed itself with all it's beautiful 4'000ers - and the DOM with it's impressove 4545 Meters hight stands right there in the middle.

I'm curious about what you got up your sleves next for me Valais!


Day 7 --> Rosswald - Gspon. 330/695k, 22'910/47'000m altitude, 23/32 passes done.

Let's cut to the chase. It was a long day. It was a windy day. It was a rainy day. It was a foggy day. Let's just call it that. A foggy day.

Passed Simplon pass around noon. It's a very weird place and hasn't any of that high glory anymore from when Napoleon had it built - rather than the high age of the bustourists in the restaurant. Had lunch in a public toilett and now I am officially out of food.

Had warm dinner after 30 hours of junkfood in the only Restaurant of Gspon and the Cordon Bleu was de-li-ci-ous!  But too little.


Day 8 --> Gspon - Grächen. 367/695k, 25'060/47'00m altitude, 23/32 passes done.

SRS - Strengthen, (Black)Roll & Stretch. That's my morning routine. I had learned about it on my Gr11 FKT attempt from a guy called Chase, while my knee hurt so bad no amount of ibuprofen could cure it. Anyway, this guy is a scientific wizzard when it comes to building up 1A trail legs. 3 days and some exercise later I was back into shape again and ran up and down mountains like I used to. Go check out @chase_mountains if you are looking for a pair of indestructible hiker legs to crush that trail :) 

But wait, actually my morning routine starts like this: following natures call -  then drying the sleeping bag/tarp, brushing teeth, checking the devices, rolling up the inflatable sleeping mat and packing all my stuff in the pack. Only then SRS kicks in.

Also I'd just passed the halfway mark - yeeha!

Day 9 --> Grächen - Grimentz. 412/695k, 28'750/47'00m altitude, 25/32 passes done.

It has been a long day. 45k and more than 3'300m i n altitude. Woke up in a quiet corner of the sports arena of Grächen. Had a small talk with another friendly local whom cheered me up for sleeping in front of her gym.

Jogged down to st. Niklaus and got some food from Denner.

Then hiked up Augstbord Pass and experienced two things: a super fast couple of trailrunners and a mellow Ibex with huge horns.

Came down to the valley and ... stepped into the fourth place i'd allready hiked when going to the Bishorn. Saw Turtmann hut from afar and walked over the mighty Meidpass. Has been pretty cold up there so I'd pass by Weisshorn Hotel and also cleared the third section of the day into Grimentz.

That's where I'd found a super cheap (54.-) Hotelroom with free breakfast. Why? Because there is no sports centre plus temperatures drop tonight and there will be rain from 4 a.m. on. I am in heaven right now!


Day 10 --> Grimentz - Lac Bleu. 446/695km, 31'850/47'00m altitude, 27/32 passes done.

It was -5`Celsius on the 3'000 meter pass, at least. That's when my gloves not only came in handy - but the center piece of my dress up.

It has been a frosty day alltogether. From passing Corne de sorbois, down to a crazy green colored lake with one more glacier behind, over the windy Col de torrent down and back up to the Pension du Lac Bleu. This is where I'm at right now. Waiting for a delicious bowl of ramen noodles.

My gear is built for a 3 season trip - while season 4 just tickles Switzerland right now.

But I sketched out the plan for the final days to come... and i'm curious about the outcome!


Day 11 --> Lac Bleu - Bonatchiesse. 491/695km, 35'480/47'00m altitude, 33/33 passes done.

Six. That's how many passes I'd crossed today. Six. Most of them where just a couple meters shy of 3'000. The hight and the cold brought snow and ice which turned the trail at times into a slippery slope, especially since my trailrunners tread is almost gone.

The day ended with a long and steep 1'100 meter downhill - into the night :)


Day 12 --> Bonatchiesse - Bourg-St-Pierre. 527/695km, 37'730/47'00m altitude, 34/34 passes done.

Let's make this a quick one: Today I hit a wall. Literally the worst experience in a long time. Had no dinner last night but some left over chunky monkey sweet nut n' dried fruit mix. Hiked out in good spirits and 2 hours later my body shut down. The mind followed instantly. That gave me something to chew on for the rest of the day. The sensation to perform just on around 30% of the full potential has been quiet emotional.

It came down to a sodium deficiency. That's why a salty bouillon soup has been my dinner. Fingers crossed it does the job.


Day 13 --> Bourg-St-Pierre - Trient. 586/695km, 40'950/47'00m altitude, 38/38 passes done.

Call it whatever you want to, I call it a comeback! Walked out "Auberge des Charmettes" after a small breakfast with tea to get 2 sports drinks and snacks at the gas station. Bumped into a herd of cows and felt better as I approached Grand st. Bernard.

Sat down 2 hours later for an extra salty soup with some sweet fizzydrink. And then the magic happened: I was back. 100% full on myself again.

Spent the day crossing four passes while reeling in 59k and over 3'000 meters in altitude, only to end up in the last free Hotelroom in Trient.

Reached the Supermarket of Champex-Lac 5 minutes before closure. In  front of the store stood 2 asian hikergirls having a snack - and - their faces and clothes seemed familiar. Of course it was them, the @twinslilivivi . What a coincidence. They appeared in my feed from time to time since they started the Pacific Crest Trail in Spring 2022. And here they where. We refueled on calories and talked for a while. Has been nice meeting them. Cu another time twins and take care.

Today was a good day :)


Day 14 --> Trient - Barme. 530/695km, 44'550/47'00m altitude, 41/41 passes done.

Two things happened today. Pass 2 & 3 have had a steep up and nasty rubble on the downhill. Then i'd hit heavy winds against me all afternoon. And I cleared three stages.

Had lasagna for dinner and slept like a baby.


Day 15 --> Barme - Saint-Gingolph. 695/695km, 48'310/48'310m altitude, 45/45 passes done.

The Alpine Passes Trail is DONE. I am happy & proud that I have been able to cope with the physical & mental obstacles during this adventure. From Altitude to Zero degrees Celsius (and below).

What a ride. All needed for now is a long and hot shower - my odor is off the charts.

Also ran the remaining 65km and 3'750m in altitude today in about 12 hours 5 minutes and finished in time to grab a cold beer and hopp on the last train back home, yeehah!