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Climbing the Grosser Mythen, 47 hairpin turns and all

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This taller of the two Mythen peaks has my brother in its spell: time and again, he has climbed it and afterwards posted marvelous pictures on Facebook.  Now it’s my turn to head up there!

I had always wanted to scale this symbol of Schwyz Canton. So, on a magnificent autumn Sunday morning, Walter and I drove up to Brunni-Alpthal via Einsiedeln.

The parking lot in Brunni was still half empty – terrific! That means we avoid the stampede. Or so I thought.

By aerial tram from Brunni to the Holzegg

After watching some lively hikers set out briskly from Brunni toward Holzegg, we hesitated for a moment. Should we also start our hike from here already? Or should we do the first stage via the little aerial tram?

It’s an experience all its own, jammed with 14 others in the little gondola car, whose maximum occupancy is 15 people at a time.

View from the Holzegg back toward Brunni and Einsiedeln

View from the Holzegg back toward Brunni and Einsiedeln

In hindsight, I’m glad we bravely resisted all peer pressure and instead took the “softie” way out by riding the gondola… it took 5 minutes to the Holzegg, where the actual Mythen trail starts. Visible in all its grandeur from here already, the Grosser Mythen reigns majestically over the Schwyz basin like a rock pyramid.

Grosser Mythen

Grosser Mythen

Not doubting in the least that I would really make it to the top, we set out in the best of spirits. It lasted until we caught sight of a signboard listing the trail “do’s and don’ts,” so to speak – including this cautionary one: “Be sure to rope up with children.”

Say again?…

Through 47 hairpin turns to the top

The serpentine trail to the Grosser Mythen summit with a total of 47 sharp U-turns is fairly steep and demanding. In particularly exposed stretches, the rocky path is secured by chains. Fortunately, I am sure-footed and have never been afraid of heights. Even so, the trail has its moments. And, gradually I become aware of the burning in my thighs.

Serpentine trail up the Grosser Mythen Serpentine trail up the Grosser Mythen

Serpentine trail up the Grosser Mythen

I silently repeat my brother’s words to me that the climb “with the proper precautions is makeable.” Well, then. If your brother believes in you, why wouldn’t you!

And, after all, every year over 40,000 hikers scramble up the Grosser Mythen. Kids included! We encountered more than one family. I’m still awed by the thought of kids with their short legs managing the long climb.

Climbing Grosser Mythen Switzerland

As it turned out, we were not the only ones…

Be that as it may – even as we labored up to the top, the views were already beguiling.

Climbing grosser Mythen Switzerland

Climbing grosser Mythen Switzerland

Climbing grosser Mythen Switzerland

Walter just before the last ascent

Hiking grosser Mythen Switzerland

Almost made it!

Once we arrived on the summit, all exertions and the muscle burn are forgotten. That is because the 360-degree panorama of the Glarus and the Urner Alps from here is nothing less than glorious.

View from grosser Mythen Switzerland

The view from Grosser Mythen takes in Schwyz, Lake Lucerne and Lake Lauerz

Hiking grosser Mythen Switzerland

Yeah! Made it! Color Walter and me tired but happy.

The sight of the Swiss flag flapping in the wind almost makes me launch right into the Swiss anthem. But I hold off on giving voice to my jubilation at having arrived at the top (some of my friends know how much I like to break spontaneously into song in the mountains on occasion) ;-)

Swiss flag flying over the Grosser Mythen

Swiss flag flying over the Grosser Mythen

Instead, I manage to upset a fellow mountain climber — presumably an ornithologist? — when I mistake his jackdaw for a crow.

“City dweller, are we?” he practically sneers at me.

Well, excuse me! After all, the jackdaw is part of the crow family. I mean, it’s not as if I mistook the bird for a cow, now is it? Give me a break…

Never mind – I was not going to let anything or anyone spoil the feeling of pure happiness at having finally managed to climb this mountain, and so I gave myself completely to contemplating the view. And watching the acrobatic aerial stunts of the jackdaws.

Jackdaw doing aerial stunts

Jackdaw (that’s no crow!) doing aerial stunts

The way down the mountain may not be as arduous as the way up, but it took its toll on the knees all right!

Although my muscles are still sore the next morning, the hike absolutely was worth it!

Grosser Mythen Switzerland

Grosser Mythen – I’ll be back!

 

Mythical facts

Grosser Mythen, 1,898 m, Schwyz SZ
Vertical climb: just short of 500 m from the Holzegg mountain station (at 1,405 m)
Distance: 2,400 m of hiking trail
Technical difficulty: T3 – predominantly uneven surfaces & somewhat rocky = more difficult

On the summit, you have a well-frequented mountain restaurant run by Annagreth Schuler and Werner Ruhstaller. For opening hours, best check their website or call ahead to +41 79 768 71 90, as the times are highly weather dependent.

Restaurant Grosser Mythen

Restaurant Grosser Mythen

An absolute must for the climb is a good set of boots. You should also not be prone to vertigo and be surefooted. We saw a few hikers turn back halfway up the mountain.

Counting from the Holzegg, the climb takes about one and a quarter hours. That said, we met a very fit couple (I guessed they were 70ish) at the summit who do it regularly in 45 minutes! Kudos!

For hikers of average fitness, we recommend using the gondola lift from Brunni to Holzegg. Otherwise, you will already have one hour of uphill hiking in the legs: the hiking trail looks easy at the start from Brunni, but soon branches off into the woods and from there it is nearly as steep a climb as going up the Grosser Mythen itself.

A word to the wise: When the weather is nice on a weekend, you’ll encounter a veritable crowd scene on the Mythen. It pays to get an early start! At least during our outing, when we returned to the parking lot in early afternoon, it was jam-packed.

Also, at the postbus stop, an unbelievable number of people were waiting! I doubt there was enough room for all of them in it. It made us doubly glad we had our own wheels.

Turning in at the Skihaus Holzegg mountain inn

If you made it to the top early, you can be back at the Holzegg summit station by lunchtime and, just a few steps from there, you can put your feet up on the sundeck of Skihaus Holzegg and have lunch, too. While you’re lunching, crane your neck to look up and the realization will suddently dawn on you that just a little while earlier you had been “up there”!

Skihaus Holzegg grosser Mythen

Skihaus Holzegg at the foot of the Grosser Mythen

Skihaus Holzegg Grosser Mythen

If you want to catch the sunrise on the Grosser Mythen, you can overnight here at the Skihaus. (There are no overnight accommodations in the hut on the Grosser Mythen summit.)

And also groove to the sounds of the Tell’s Angels alpenhorn quartet ;-)

Tells Angels alpenhorn quartet

A serenade by the Tell’s Angels alpenhorn quartet

Idyllic chapel on the Holzegg

Idyllic chapel on the Holzegg

Here is our route and Walter’s heart rate. If you wish, you can als view them interactively on TomTom. Good gracious, Walter!

To get an idea of the weather conditions on the Mythen during one 24 hour period, check out this timelapse view:

Brunni: Mythen region − Einsiedeln (summit station) − Holzegg

Wishing everyone a happy and safe hike!

And, please: do not address your complaints about muscle soreness to us. Take it up with your fitness trainer…!

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About Author

Katja is travelmemo.com’s destination research and booking expert. She always has the upper hand on itineraries and travel details. When not on the road Katja is a corporate communications and events manager.

2 Comments

  1. Gioconda Schärer on

    Kein Wunder ihr seid begeistert mit diesem Ausflug! Gratuliere, so ein Panorama mit schönem Wetter, himmlisch

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