CLIMB: Susten Pass (2224m)
Route: Point to Point
The Susten Pass: one of the classic Swiss passes
The Susten Pass was built between 1938–1945 and connects Innertkirchen in the canton of Bern with Wassen in the canton of Uri. While both sides start in forested valleys and climb into an alpine landscape, the west side provides the best ascent and riding experience thanks to lots of turns and varying terrain.
The first kilometers of the climb from Innertkirchen start with rolling terrain, where steep climbs are followed by flatter sections. As you arrive to Gadmen you can’t help but feel tiny pedaling along 2000 meters beneath the towering walls of the Wendenstöcke, one of the most famous rock climbing areas in Europe. In the town of Gadmen itself, which oddly resembles a wild west town, the real climbing begins. From here, the pass is never steep, but it is long (13km), which you won’t mind thanks to the views of the Stei Glacier and the Sustenhorn, as well as all the surrounding peaks providing a welcome distraction to the fact that your legs are getting heavier.
After 11 tunnels and 12 switchbacks, the summit lies at 2,224m. A 300m tunnel leads to the other side and the descent into Wassen. Riding up the Sustenpass from the east side is great too, although the long, straight drag up the Meien valley can look a bit discouraging. It is part of the Alpenbrevet, one of Switzerland’s most popular Granfondos, before the twisting and turning, silky smooth paved descent into Innertkirchen, one of the most fun in the Alps.
Like many high passes in Switzerland, the Susten is closed in winter. The snow is cleared around the end of May - visit this website to check the opening date.
Be prepared for any type of weather on the Susten Pass. During the 2012 Swiss CrissCross, we started in the sun and finished in a driving snow. Welcome to Switzerland!
Keep going from Wassen: so many options… more passes? Or, back the way you came. You are in the land of the passses.
The lower slopes of the Susten Pass
A cold but beautiful spring day
One of the many tunnels you'll go through once above tree line
Snow walls are common until early summer
What comes up must go down
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