Beyond Kandersteg
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At the end of Kandersteg village, beside the rushing Kander torrent, is a small crossroads. To the southwest a tortuous path climbs into the bleak Üschinen valley, which penetrates for 4 or 5km between the summits, and is the scene for some tough mountain-bike trails and tougher hikes up to the Gemmipass above the town of Leukerbad.

Southeast from the same crossroads, a private road (Fr.10, pay at tourist office) allows cars to access the wild Gastern valley; beware that the road is narrow and rocky, and runs on an alternate one-way system (into the valley between 30 and 50mins past each hour; out of the valley between the hour and 20 past). Nobody comes down here apart from local hikers in the know, but this was formerly the main route by foot into the Valais: about an hour and a half’s walk from the crossroads into the forgotten valley – the walls of which are laced with dramatically spouting waterfalls – you’ll come to the hamlet of Selden (1535m) with a couple of inns, including cosy Gasthaus Selden (033/675 11 63, fax 675 21 44; a). From here, a path cuts south four hours up to the Lötschenpass (2690m), passing another inn, the Gfelalp (033/675 11 61; a), on the ascent. From the basic Lötschenpasshütte (027/939 19 81, www.loetschental.ch/loetschenpass; Fr.22) on the summit, three more paths lead down to the villages on the other side. A little east of Selden, the Gastern valley is blocked by the huge Kanderfirn glacier. Check with the Kandersteg tourist office before embarking on exploration in these remote areas.

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