The Rhone Glacier near the Furka Highway


A glance of a map of switzerland leads the cyclists' eye to one of the more unique regions of that mountainous country, the Gletsch valley. I approached it from the west, up a very long and scenic climb from Brig at the base of the Simplon, until you finally enter the steep walled and rocky valley of Gletsch itself. There the road divides; one climbs in a series of ferocious switches on the wall above you to the Grimselpass, one item above you in this outline. The other climb is longer and sinuous, with its share of switchbacks but also long sweeping climbs up the valley walls over the Furkapass. I will have many more photos of the Furka soon enough, but for now one should know that the Rhone Glacier, the source of the Rhone river which empties, briefly, into Lac Leman far below, comes marvelously close to the road as the cyclist ascends. The ice is fragmented and even can be approached on foot; some of the fractures form ice caves you can walk into. It makes a fine accompaniment on your climb as the valley drops below. You can hear the incessant horns of the Postal Autobuses echoing from the roadways below and above you. They have the absolute right of way, so give them wide berth; and if you wave them on to help traffic flow freely, they will give you a serenade that will boost your ego. They cannot boost your energy, however, and this is one climb you are not likely to forget. For me near the summit it became cold and drippy with a wind at the summit, and I quickly continued down the other side.