When summer kicks in, Swiss Mountain Guide Dan Loutrel can be found climbing Andermatt’s gnarly alpine rock faces… and riverside barbecuing
How many years have you been a mountain guide for?
Nine years ago I finished the Swiss Mountain Guide course. I’ve been working full-time since then.
Why base yourself in Andermatt in summer?
I came from the USA for one season, searching for bigger and steeper lines to ski. I discovered Andermatt and was so thrilled by the freeride skiing that I never went back. I spent the first 10 years starting a ski business, handcrafting custom freeride skis in a basement here in Andermatt.
When my first child arrived I realised I had to get a bit more serious about life, so I decided to become a mountain guide. I founded Andermatt Guides in 2013, a small mountain guide office. In winter, we specialise in freeride/steep skiing and ski touring around central Switzerland; in summer, we guide long classic alpine rock routes, and mixed alpine climbs. Occasionally we accompany clients to the 4,000m peaks of Vallais and Berner Oberland, but with such great routes and half the crowds we prefer to stay local! Andermatt is a great place to be located, with all kinds of terrain, great snow in winter, and excellent summer climbing.
Tell us about your first experience of summer here in Andermatt…
It was really fun – I was in a major skiing phase of my life, but I immediately saw the climbing potential and started discovering the alpine rock around Andermatt and Uri. I really enjoyed the change of pace – winter here can be a bit hectic, while summer is relaxed with long days and more comfortable shoes. The climbing potential is endless!
How would be your ideal Andermatt summer’s day be spent?
Climbing a long challenging alpine rock route with my girlfriend.
How do you relax here in summer?
I love to hike up into the Göscheneralp with my girlfriend and three kids. We start from our house in Göschenen, and walk about 45 minutes up the valley towards Göscheneralp. We find a nice spot by the river, make a small fire and grill some sausages. After lunch I lie in the grass and watch the clouds drift over the Salbit West Ridge. Its truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever found in this world.
What is your favourite climbing route and why?
Peruvian Dancing Dust, on the ‘Teufelstalwand’ (Devil’s Wall) above Andermatt. It’s nine pitches of tricky, steep granite crack climbing. Mostly thin fingers. Other than the belays there are just five bolts in the whole route, so it’s a real full-value climbing experience – you need strength, solid skills, and most of all steady nerves. It reminds me of Yosemite!
Tell us something we don’t know about Andermatt…
Andermatt is known for freeride skiing, but it is also a climber’s paradise. The high alpine is full of amazing granite ridges to climb, with climbing for all levels. Just a bit further down the valley towards Altdorf we have limestone, steep sport climbing, as well as long alpine routes. If the weather is bad in the north we go south through the Gotthard tunnel into Ticcino, and in 45 minutes we have endless sport climbing and bouldering possibilities on beautifully structured Gneiss rock.
What’s good to eat in Andermatt?
The Yak Burger at Gasthaus Göscheneralp is the cult classic for the climbing gang.
Favourite après-hike bar in Andermatt?
Spycher for the good beer and pizza.
Best local superstition?
If you can’t get something done, hire the devil to build it! Legend has it that he built the bridge that connects Andermatt to Göschenen…
Is there anywhere we should avoid?
Nope, it’s all good!