Ascent of Schafberg on 2009-06-13

Climber: Lee Newton

Date:Saturday, June 13, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:7343 ft / 2238 m

Ascent Trip Report

Due to the number of Schafbergs in Switzerland (Schaf is German for sheep), this one has to be identified as the Jaun (not just the Fribourg) Schafberg. In fact you look carefully at the map carefully, you can see that the true summit appears to be in the Canton of Bern and only the western subsummit (which is about 20m lower despite the fact it carries the summit cross and logbook-in-a-tin often found on Swiss mountains) to be in Fribourg.

Semantics aside, this is a reasonably challenging hill. It is very steep on all sides, including a very steep north face, falling 400m to the valley below. The routes I used both have sections of very steep grass and would be rather dangerous after or during wet conditions.

The ascent route took me from the small village of Jaun norhtwards, up a steep sided valley, signposted Kaiseregg. After a couple of kilometers, a left turn is made when you pass the bottom wires and basket of a goods lift heading left up a side valley. Turn left following the valley (and a further sign for Kaiseregg, another peak in the chain best ascended from the north (Schwarzsee).

Before the top of the lift is quite reached, break left off the path and climb directly up very steep grass trending a little rightwards round the hill. After about 200m vertical ascent you will see the tiny Schafberg hut and as you reach it's level you will find a path contouring over the top of the couloir which prevents a direct approach. From the hut continue upwards. You are aiming to get quite close to the level of the crags before contouring rightwards, this time on reasonable sheep tracks. Soon you will come to a shallow, stony rake. Head directly up this, exiting left at the top (one small move requires hand although it is still mainly grassy. Above it is slightly less steep and you can now see the summits. The true summit is on the right of the one with the summit cross, but both are easily reached by following the fence steeply upwards to a cut in the ridgeline and then going left or right.

The views were tremendous. Mont Blanc was clearly visible in the distance. In the middle distance Les Diablerets and Dents du Midi caught the eye, as did the Wildhorn and Wildstrubel, and further East Glärnisch. Closer at hand was the impressive toothed ridge of the Dents du Ruth and de Savigny with the Jura chain visible in the West and North.

Not liking the idea of descending the same way I sought an alternative. Going East along the ridge brings you over a couple of ver minor bumps towards a rocky tower at the end of the ridge. As you approach the tower the ridge gets more difficult and the drop off to the right even steeper. About 100m before the point head downwards. There is a band of crags below with only one gap but this can be seen on careful examination of the map (they are extremely accurate in this regards). One heart-stopping slip aside, I breached the crag to look back and discover there was really only one feasible point to get through and I had been lucky to hit it bang on. In poor visibility it would be near impossible to find and in wet conditions a slip would swiftly lead to a very poor outcome, overall even less recommendable than the ascent route.

There are now two options, either straight down the valley back to Jaun, or what I did, which was to contour left and ascend the grassy ridge opposite. I then picked up an easy trail downwards, which became first a farm track, and then a metalled road. A tiny farmhouse cafe provided a welcome cold drink on a hot sunny day, and the choice of paths down to Jaun are obvious.

Overall a great first day of the summer season after a hard winter whose snows are still lasting well at higher levels.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4177 ft / 1272 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4180 ft / 1274 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6.5 mi / 10.5 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Hot sunny yet beautifully clear day
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4013 ft / 1223 m
    Distance:2.8 mi / 4.5 km
    Route:via Schafberghütte
    Start Trailhead:Jaun  3330 ft / 1014 m
    Time:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4180 ft / 1274 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 4016 ft / 1224 m; Extra: 164 ft / 49m
    Gain on way out:164 ft / 49 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:East ridge and descent to south
    End Trailhead:Jaun  3327 ft / 1014 m
    Time:2 Hours 45 Minutes

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