Sustenpass – Try and Fail (?)

August 20, 2023

Map Link

It seems like forever since I took a day-long ride into the Alps. I had been meaning to “get around to it” for most of the summer and then suddenly: summer’s almost over! The month of August had been hot, but towards the end of the month the temperatures dropped and I started to make my plans for a “Big Pass Loop”. Unfortunately, the temperatures dropped even further, and the passes were listed as “Closed” due to snow.

What? Passes closed in August due to snow? Ah yes, the fickle Alps.

But Wednesday morning I checked the website and they were all open again! Awesome! I got geared up, hopped on the bike and headed south.

Joining the commuters

The roads leading south aren’t all that interesting

But eventually the mountain peaks start to show

The town of Spiez on the shores of Thunersee

One of the many sections of road construction I’d see today

The roads were fairly empty once I got off the main motorways, leaving behind most of the commercial traffic that is typical of a week day. But now I was heading to Meiringen, the town famous for being the supposed death site of Sherlock Holmes at Reichenbach Falls. From Meiringen I could decide how I wanted to proceed, after a quick check of the weather maps.

Skirting around the edge of Thunersee and then Brienzersee – this is Brienzersee, near Interlaken

Entering Haslital (valley)

It was while I was stuck behind some cars at one of the many construction site traffic lights that I noticed the fighter jet screaming low through the hills. Oh yeah! I forgot that there is a military airport here! The Flugplatz Meiringen is located in the valley, an unassuming collection of buildings set off to one side, nestled against the steep, rocky cliffs.

The first thing I noticed was that the runway lights were lit

I had seen this sign before, but I hadn’t really considered exactly where it was. And now here I was, standing before it.

Judging from the current flight pattern I had seen, and the runway lights still lit, I estimated that another jet would be landing soon. I parked the motorcycle and settled in for the wait.

Just in case the plane didn’t stop in time

A member of the Military Police keeps an eye on us

Twenty minutes later, I got this video.

After watching the jet trundle around a grass-camouflaged hangar and out of sight, I realized that I should get on with my day. I had decided to skip Grimsel and Furka passes, but would instead head for Sustenpass. I love Sustenpass, both coming and going, so no matter how far I got today, I would be pleased.

Leaving Meiringen behind

Innertkirchen, where the choice of Grimsel vs Susten pass had to be made

My GPS clearly realized that I was on my way to Sustenpass!

I admit that I grin and sing to myself every time I see this sign

Cloudy and cool – about 12°C here

The waterfalls were flowing nicely

Looking back down the valley – the road went up and the temperatures were going down

At this point, I figured that I should just turn around

I went a little further, to my favorite waterfall / tunnel combination

Ok, this is where I made the call to turn around: 6°C and clouds

There wouldn’t be much of a view after this

What is left of the Stein Glacier

One more parting shot

Back under the waterfall!

I love this road

Going back down was quick. There had been a few motorcycles coming down while I was going up (indicating that it was indeed passable at the summit), but otherwise the road was clear. I moseyed my way down, taking it probably easier than necessary but still enjoying myself all the same.

Ok, it wasn’t that exciting…

I was almost back to Innertkirchen when I had to turn around: Highland cows were in a field and I simply cannot ignore these fuzzy creatures. So cute!

That is one healthy bull!

I stopped in Meiringen for a late lunch on the way back through. It was a quick but good pizza at Pizzeria Leone and then I was on my way home.

More road construction

The incredible color of Sarnersee

I had left the solitary pass road behind me and was now in a parade of vehicles, a mix of cars, trucks and a couple of very slow motorcyclists. The road options weren’t that great, and it was either “move slowly with traffic”, or “move slowly through towns”. I admit that I was tired, and not at my peak game, so I went with the slightly more mind-numbing “slowly with traffic”.

The return to the motorway opened up the traffic situation considerably

The return slog to get home

All-in-all, it was a great day. I didn’t regret not being able to complete my original Big Pass Loop and was happy with the new things that I saw along today’s ride. Sustenpass never disappoints.