Gastern Valley

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Access road, built in 1924/25
Gasterntal, view into the valley from the Hotel Waldhaus
Head of the valley with Kanderfirn and young Kander

The Gasterntal , also Gasterental or (according to the Swiss national map) Gasteretal , is a valley near Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland . The Kander flows through it. The rear basin is about 1,600 m, the exit from the valley about 1,350 m high. The valley is only inhabited during the summer months.

Gasteren means in the Kandersteg dialect the same as staying overnight. In the past, Selden, the rear part of the valley, was inhabited all year round; two inns offered travelers board and lodging across the Lötschenpass .


The relatively untouched valley, bordered by high cliffs, is approx. 10 km long and lies in the southeast of the Kandersteg community. If you climb out of the basin, you come to the Kanderfirn , where the river rises at an altitude of about 2200 m. In the north the valley is bordered by Doldenhorn , Fründenhorn , Oeschinenhorn and Blüemlisalp , in the south by Altels , Balmhorn , Lötschenpass , Hockenhorn , Sackhorn and Birghorn .

Its beauty stems on the one hand from the secluded location and the untamed meandering Kander, on the other hand from the abundance of flowers with specimens of some rare species that occur especially in mountain spring. The Gastern Valley offers hiking and mountain climbing opportunities as well as accommodation and meals in several inns.

On the south face of the Gastern valley, in warm weather, the Geltenbach emerges from the middle of a 300 meter high rock face. The total length of the Geltenbach cave is around 1350 meters.


The path from the Lötschen valley to the Gastern valley was already taken early: in 1352 a wooden cross was mentioned on the Lötschen pass. In 1367 the residents of the Gastern Valley allied themselves with the Lötschentalers and the people of the parish of Leuk. Between 1384 and 1419, for political and economic reasons, bloody battles between Valais and Bernese were fought several times on the Lötschen Pass.

In 1696, the expansion of the old Roman path from the Gasterntal over the Lötschenpass began; Abraham von Graffenried and Ulrich Thormann, then governor of Aigle VD , were in charge . However, the Valais did not continue to build the path on the south side and the project failed.

Because the easily accessible path over the Gemmi Pass was opened in 1739 , the population in the Gastern Valley declined. In 1785 there were still 50 people living in the valley. The last bear was shot in October of the same year. In 1924/25 the road was built by the Klus as an unemployment program.

The Lötschberg and Lötschberg base tunnels run under the valley floor . In 1908, 26 workers were killed in the construction of the Lötschberg tunnel when the Kander broke into the freshly milled tube after a blast. As a result, the route had to be changed.

The guide system K20 , a government bunker completed in 1999, is located at the lower entrance to the valley .


The Gastern Valley can be reached with a private bus service, on foot, by bike or by car. The access is via a narrow, toll road. The journey is only permitted for twenty minutes per hour in each direction. A reservation is necessary for the bus service. At the back of the valley are the hamlet of Selden (1537 m) and Alp Heimritz (1635 m). From the south you can reach the Gastern Valley on foot via the Gemmi Pass or the Lötschen Pass .

Nature reserve

The lower part of the Gastern valley, the Gastereholz, and the area around the hamlet of Selden in the rear part of the valley have been classified as "floodplain areas of national importance" since February 2012 and are under nature protection.

The Gastereholz is one of the last larger intact floodplains in which the Kander flows naturally over wide gravel banks, changes its course again and again depending on the water level and forms the river bed. Vast gray alder and willow forests, avalanches, debris cones and flowing side streams provide a habitat for rare animals such as the aspic viper , woodcock and Turk's thorn . In addition, lady 's slippers , Turkish leagues and tamarisks thrive here .

The agricultural area around the "Hotel Waldhaus" is excluded from the nature reserve.

Hotel Waldhaus

Waldhaus inn

At the bottom of the valley is the Hotel Waldhaus, one of the few hotels in Switzerland that offers rooms without electricity and running water. The history of the house goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, when the Frutiger councilor Peter Klopfenstein commissioned the Bern office of Steiner & Schneider to build a boarding house in the Gastern Valley. The plan was not implemented; One reason for this may have been that the valley could only be reached via a narrow path at that time.

In 1910, Grand Councilor G. Tönen from Frutigen made another attempt. A much smaller building was realized than the plans of the Friedrich Steiner office in Bern show. The reason for this is not known; maybe the high cost was responsible. In 1936 the seven Ryter siblings from Kandergrund acquired 1000 Juchart land from Walter Thönen in the Gasterntal , including the Waldhaus. It has been owned by the Aellig-Ryter family for several years.

Gastern Bible

Gastern Bible

For around 300 years, the guest sermon has been held at Selden on the first Sunday in August. It goes back to the pastor of Frutigen , who at that time climbed to the Gastern Valley twice a year and held a church service there for the local families. The guest reads from the Gastern Bible, which is kept by the oldest inhabitant of the valley.

In 1696, when the construction of the new path from the Gastern Valley over the Lötschenpass began, the Gastern Valley did not yet have its own Bible. As thanks for the hospitality of the locals towards the soldiers who built the new path, they received a Bible. It is a copy of the first edition of the Bernese Bible edition published by Andreas Hugenet by Oberkeitliche Truckerey in 1684 in a translation by the South German theologian Johannes Piscator . The supervision of the printing lay with Gabriel Thormann, a cousin of Ulrich Thormann, who was in charge of expanding the route over the Lötschenpass. Gabriel Thormann wrote a dedication. At the bottom he stated: “This Bible should always remain in the hands of the eldest householder or housemother of those so that they can live in Gastern for the whole year” .

When in 1785 the Bern magistrates Victor von Wattenwyl , Beat Tscharner and Johann Rudolf Bucher came to the Gastern Valley to deliver wood, they found the Bible in poor condition. They took it to Bern, where it was repaired and given a strong steamed lid.

Storm October 2011

Slipped hiking trail near Heimritz

On October 10, 2011, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., a huge debris flow fell at Alp Heimritz in the rearmost part of the Gastern valley . It was triggered by long periods of heavy rainfall and simultaneous melting of snow. A huge mass of mud, rubble and water pushed down from the Hockenhorn over an altitude difference of 1300 meters towards Alp Heimritz. The Kander was moved around 30 meters to the north towards the building; its old course was filled in. Meadows and Alps disappeared within a short time under a layer of rubble and stones several meters thick, and part of the forest was rolled down. Geologists estimated the debris to be 250,000 m 3 .

The connecting road from Selden to Alp Heimritz on the left side of the valley and a stable were destroyed, and the hiking trail on the right side of the valley slipped. The bridge above Selden has now been rebuilt and a new access road to Alp Heimritz for 4x4 vehicles has been created on the south side.

Gasterntal seen from the Hockenhorn - on the right Kanderfirn and Petersgrat , on the left the east face of the Balmhorn, in the middle the Doldenhorn

Web links

Commons : Gasterental  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Hotel Waldhaus (Kandersteg)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Selden / Heimritz  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Guest Bible  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Kandersteg Heimatbuch group: Kandersteg , 2001

Individual evidence

  1.  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 199 kB)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
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  3. My Switzerland  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
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  5. ^ Rudolf Pfister : Church history of Switzerland . tape 2 . Zwingli Verlag, 1964, p. 529 ( limited preview in the Google book search): "A Piscator Bible printed in Bern in 1684/85 is also the" Gastern Bible "."
  6. ^ AG Heimatbuch Kandersteg: Kandersteg , 2001, p. 35f
  7. Berner Zeitung

Coordinates: 46 ° 27 '45.9 "  N , 7 ° 40' 4.7"  E ; CH1903:  617618  /  145739