Swiss perimeter plan 2015

Book published! See blog of 17th April 2020

I put the following text in the site right from the start.  During the circuit I found I had been somewhat too ambitious (or naive).  For example, it was not possible to “visit” all the frontier stones – some were really inaccessible without the necessary authorisations or procedures, for others I was close enough but the last few meters would have cost me unreasonable extra time.  I had to bypass several summits on advice from the guides, because of unfavourable or even dangerous conditions, or for logistical reasons.  The “corridors” on either side of the border turned out to be too strict.  Apart from a few rare exceptions, I kept to 300-400 meters instead of 150 m outside the mountains, in the mountains it was 1 km and on Lake Geneva I was obliged to go closer to the French shore instead of paddling in the middle of the lake.  I consider that these deviations do not detract from the value of the accomplishment.  Later, I was able to consult the book by Andreas Vogel (see “Other circuits”), where I found that he allowed himself a “corridor” of 1.5 km each side of the border.  As for the overnight stays in the mountains, we found it more convenient to go down to a hut rather than to bivouac, even if the extra vertical distances exceeded 500 m.  Finally, I had to interrupt the circuit in November 2015, and resume in 2016, due to illness.


Go around the whole Swiss frontier, if possible in one go


On foot, by bicycle, by scooter, etc, or by canoe, without using mechanical means (ski lifts,cable cars, vehicles, etc).

Code of practice (“rules of the game”)

  • Follow the frontier as closely as possible, within reason; free to go either side of the frontier
  • Visit all the boundary stones, except those only accessible through private property or are fenced off, or located in marshland or on the walls of dams, or that cannot be accessed for other reasons.
  • Visit all the main summits (all those named and given a spot height in the Swiss national maps 1:50’000 and most of those in the 1:25’000 national maps)
  • After leaving the frontier to sleep, eat, rest, etc, start again in the same place
  • It is permitted to deviate from the frontier to avoid obstacles, e.g., but one must stay within a band whose width extends 150 m either side of the frontier, where there are no mountains, and 500 m on either side on the lakes (1 km for Lake Geneva).
    • In the mountains, no such limits are set, but see below:
  • Mountain areas:
    follow standard routes (described in the guide books) even if they deviate from the ridges
    bypass in the best way possible those sections that are advised against because of stone fall danger, etc,
    or that have never been climbed, or are considered impassible in the guide books
    avoid some gendarmes where indicated in the guide books or if only climbed up and down by the same route (e.g. climb up, then climb down or abseil to the same place, i.e. not traversed in a continuous manner)


    In non-mountainous areas, look for accommodation close to the frontier
    • In mountainous and alpine régions, use mountain huts, if possible with a hut warden, as long as the vertical
    distance is not too great, which would imply too much of an effort and loss of time the next morning
    As a rule, I consider that a vertical distance of 500 m is still acceptable, if conditions are good
    Over 500 m, to be considered carefully, or only descend to the hut in bad weather. Where there is no suitable hut, it will be necessary to bivouac.

Sections to be done by canoe

What was foreseen in March 2015

1. Rhine in Basle. Kleinhüningen -– Dreiländereck – French frontier on the left bank, 2 km

2. Le Doubs. Barrage du Refrain – Biaufond -– La Rasse, barely 3 km

3. Le Doubs. Saut-du-Doubs village -– customs post Les Brenets (Lac des Brenets), 4,5 km

4. La Versoix. Customs post Chavannes-de-Bogis -– boundary stone 3 (spot height 436 m, close to La Vieille Bâtie), 9 km

5. L’Allondon. Boundary stone 135 – boundary stone 136, 2,5 km (possible??)

6. Rhône. Boundary stone 180 (La Plaine) – Barrage de Chancy-Pougny – boundary stone 1.5, 7,5 km (ca 500 m of portage at the dam)

7. L’Arve. Traverse, “ferry” technique

8. Lake Geneva. L’Hermance – –St-Gingolph, 57 km

9. Lago Maggiore. Valmara – Dirinella, 7,5 km

10. Lago di Lugano (Ceresio). Ponte Tresa – customs post, boundary stone 49, 10 km

11. Lago di Ceresio (Lugano). Boundary stone 8A (Cantine di Gandria) -– borne 8 (customs post Gandria), 2 km

12. Lago di Ceresio (Lugano). Boundary stone 17 (La Punta) -– boundary stone 1 (Caprino)(enclave de Campione), 4 km

13. Lago di Livigno. Dam at Punt dal Gall) – boundary stone 6E (mouth of Ova da Chaschabella), 2,5 km

14. River Inn. Martinsbruck – Altfinstermünz, 5,5 km

15. Rhine. Sargans – boundary stone 44 (Diepoldsau), 42 km

16. Old Rhine (bypass of Diepoldsau), 8 km, in 4 sections.

17. Rhine. Diepoldsau – St. Margrethen, 6 km

18. Old Rhine. St-Margrethen – river mouth into Lake Constance, boundary stone 73, 13 km

19. Lake Constance. Boundary stone 73 – frontier Kreuzlingen-Konstanz, 35 km

20. Rhine. Konstanz – frontier Stein am Rhein-Öhningen, 22 km

21. Rhine. Frontiers with Gailingen am Hochrhein and Büsingen (German enclave), 11 km

22. Rhine. Altenburg – Ellikon, 13 km

23. Rhine. Rheinsfelden (ZH) – Basle, 87 km

What really happened

1.    Done, but impossible to land at the frontier (building sites, Novartis campus).  I had to go further upstream beyond the Dreirosenbrücke; total 3 km

2.   Not done;  access to the Barrage du Refrain too difficult, even forbidden

3.   Done, as foreseen

4.   Done, but capsized 2 km before the end

5.   Not done;  not enough water

6.   Only paddled as far as the hydroelectric dam, impossible to land (building work, fenced off).  I had to go back upstream some 500 m; total 3,6 km

7.   Not done.  Access only possible too far from the frontier, on both sides

8.   Done, taking a line closer to the French side; total 49 km

9.   Done, as foreseen

10.  Done, as foreseen

11.  Done, as foreseen

12.  Not done; access only possible too far from the frontier

13.  Done,  landed 1,5 km further on

14.  Not done; river descent forbidden due to a building site

15.-17.  Not done, high water in Upper Rhine

18.  Done

19.  Done as far as Romanshorn, 15 km

20.  Done from Ermatingen onwards, 17 km

21.-22.  Not done (done by bicycle)

23.  Sections done:  Rheinsfelden – Laufenburg, 42 km, and Rheinfelden – Basle, 16 km