In Search of Otternpass


OtternpassThis huge climb (2278 metres) has been on my to do list forever. So despite waking up to a less than stellar weather forecast, I decided to stick with my plan.

Starting near Oey, the ride heads up into a typically lovely little Swiss valley — the Diemtigtal — in central Switzerland: A well paved, tiny road, with mountains and cows everywhere.
Local signs all said Otternpass, but I have also seen Otterepass in a few places.

Share the road!

Share the road!

After several nice enough kilometres on a quiet “main” road beside a babbling river, the route turns left and up at Grimmialp. From here it is a much smaller, superb farm road.

Very inviting

Very inviting

I was in good spirits, enjoying the scenery and gradually heading higher. I had the route programmed in my GPS but it was (unusually) acting up: Perhaps due to the storm clouds, perhaps due to the high peaks on all sides.

Could literally see the rain arriving

I could literally see the rain arriving

As I scanned the peaks on all sides I honestly had no guess where a mountain pass with a “road” might be hiding. As things got steeper, they only got more beautiful. I was almost looking forward to the last crazy two kilometres at 20%.
Getting wet

Not dry

As I got higher, it got darker. I reached Oberalp at 1926 metres and the paved road finally ended. My faulty GPS said I was at the Pass. I trudged through a muddy farm, letting myself through a few gates but couldn’t find a road. Only a big muddy track.

It started raining harder.

I am usually pretty organised route-wise. But I was confused as to where the heck the pass was. I was ready to trudge up this trail and see what happened (and I am an expert bike pusher), but I had just passed a promising looking road, so I decided to go back and have a look:

Looked like a good idea

Looked like a good idea

Unfortunately, I had made a mistake: this was a dead-end at a little farm. It started to rain much harder. I was pretty sure that the pass must be up above Oberalp (and it is), but given that there was a chance of lightning in the storm forecasts and the black clouds were flying over the mountains ……. I very sadly decided to just descend.

The good news: Now I’ll have to return.

I have marked Oberalp (the end of the paved road) and Otternpass on the map below. I have friends that have made it there with a bike, so it is clearly more than possible.

I took a little detour mid descent, just following a signed MtB route. As I reached Grimmialp it had stopped raining, but I could see it was seriously storming back up the climb. And it was coming may way. So I decided to get moving and just head back to the car.

Being Chased by storm

Being Chased by storm

I was disappointed to not reach the pass. Still, this is a lovely climb even without adding the last crazy 1.8 kilometres. I had enjoyed the ride and I was happy enough that I had decided to “brave the weather.”

And road bikers will be impressed at the near perfect surface all the way to Oberalp (just a little cow and goat dung here and there). 🙂


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Happiest while cycling uphill.

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