Pragelpass

Remote and beautiful mountain pass between Klöntal on the Glarus side and Muotatal in Schwyz. Breathtaking views and the sense of true remoteness make Pragelpass one of my favorite passes. Despite it being a relatively small one with only 1548m above sea level it is an unforgettable experience.

Stone chapel atop the Pragelpass.

I set off from the Glarus train station pretty late and instead climbing directly towards Klöntalersee I target the Schwammhöchi, a small peak overlooking it. Sun over here is pretty high already and the first portion of the climb is nothing but pure pleasure.

Perfect day to hit the Pragelpass, one of the last days like this this ending year.
In the forest on my way to Schwammhöchi.

It is not the shortest way to get to the Pragelpass, but a short and well worth it detour. It is almost noon already, but the sun just starts to hit the area of Klöntalersee from behind the Glärnisch range. It doesn’t touch the lake though, and given the depth of this valley I’m not sure it ever will this day. After all, it is almost November already.

It is noon already but the sun is yet to touch the lake down there.

Next to the lake. Terribly cold and no sun down here.

I descend quickly towards the lake and it’s cold. The temperature down there is 3’C according to my Garmin, so I keep going in the shadow along the lake to start the second part of the climb. I stop once or twice trying to capture the beauty of the autumn, but the coldness is rushing me towards the sunny slopes at the other end of the lake. The promise of sun I’ve seen from above.

At the end of the lake I start to climb again, stopping at the very moment I reach the first rays of sun shining. I pause next to a small summer house along the way, put the bike down and wait for the sun to warm me up. An older woman comes out of the house and we have a short conversation. It’s her last day here today in this house, for the winter she moves back to her flat in Bern. She will return in spring next year. This tells me it is probably one of the last days to climb this pass during this year. Snow can be here any day now.

Here, from Vorauen, to the top of the pass, it will take me another hour, but the scenery gets only better now. The sun is back and I’m no longer cold. I wouldn’t be cold anyway, as the climbing started again.

On the way up. Amazing autumn colors.
Can’t resist capturing the beauty, so I keep stoping.

Not too many people had the same idea of climbing Pragelpass today. It is long after the season and this makes the climb so great experience. It’s virtually nobody there on the way.

Almost at the top already. Passed a longish 10% gradient stretch.

I hit the top before 2pm, and notice the huge sea of clouds on the Schwyz side. This looks beautiful but it means one thing. It will be cold and I’m still far away from home. I don’t think too much about it now, though. I sit there at the top and admire the scenery.

Schwyz is in clouds.

It was perfect weather at the top, but it’s a thing of a past now. I descend into the sea of clouds and the temperature drops several degrees immediately. It’s the speed of descending, fog and lack of sun that make me almost freeze again.

I don’t stop anymore too much, but just hope I will reach the valley soon and start pedaling for real just not too freeze completely. The clouds are covering all of it all the way to Schwyz and beyond so I don’t have too much hope for sun anymore.

It will happen later that sun returns, several kilometers down the road, to award me with this great sunset to finish my trip. I couldn’t plan it better myself and couldn’t ask for the better ending to it. I stop for a while to enjoy the perfect light and color.

Award for the suffering in cold. Perfect sunset to end this great day.

Pragelpass is a place I will return to. In fact I climbed it four times already, but so far it looked most beautiful in the late fall, on that — warm and freezing at the same time — late October day.