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Location: Alpstein range, Appenzell
Distance: 6 miles one way
Duration: 5-6 hours
The Lisengrat is the ridge route running between Säntis and Altmann, the two highest peaks in Appenzel's Alpstein range. And although the entire span between Säntis (8218 feet elevation) and Altmann (7989 feet) can be appropriately referred to as the Lisengrat, many people use that name to refer just to the rocky chain-protected stretch with breathtaking views that leads from the Rotsteinpass to the Säntis Summit. The route described here includes the entire ridgeline and can be done as a challenging dayhike or part of an extended sojourn in the Alpstein range .As a day hike, you can get an early morning start from the town of Appenzell by taking the train-bus connection to the village of Brülisau at the base of Hoher Kasten, and continuing on foot in the direction of Platten-bödeli and on up the wide valley to the Fälensee and the idyllic setting of the Bollenwees guesthouse.
From Bollenwees the challenge is clear and daunting-a three-hour, 3000 foot vertical ascent with the Lochlibetter ridge to your north. Arriving at the saddle below the Altmann, a spire summit reserved for experienced and technically equipped rock climbers, continue in the direction of the Rotsteinpass. In this rocky stretch descending to the Rotsteinpass, you'll have as good a chance of spotting ibex and chamois as anywhere in the Alps.
The Rotsteinpass guesthouse has one of the most favored settings in all the Alps, and its perch is prominently featured in many dramatic photos of the Alpstein. You'll be tempted to spend the night here, but the best of the Lisengrat is just ahead.
The sinuous route that leads to the Säntis summit--the quintessential heart of the Lisengrat--dips and swirls around outcroppings of limestone. Here commanding panoramas of the Alpstein pop in and out of view. To the east is the Rhine Valley and Liechtenstein with the Santis summit directly in front of you to the west. Chain protect your exposure on the most rugged sections-but don't be alarmed; it's a safe route.
From the Rotsteinpass to the Säntis summit plan on 75 minutes as you ascend 1263 vertical feet, the last portion by stairs. Once on the highest summit of eastern Switzerland, take some time to enjoy the views. You have rewarding dining and lodging options on the summit and the tram decent to Schwägalp is the easy way down. But if your heart is filled with adventure, you won't want to miss the chain and ladder descent to Tierwis or Schäfler.