Churfirsten is a mountain range in the Canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland. They form the natural boundary between the canton's Toggenburg and Sarganserland districts. They are the southernmost range of the Appenzell Alps, separated from the Glarus Alps by the Seez river and Lake Walen. They consist of a limestone ridge running east to west, with the individual peaks formed by erosion. The ridge is defined much more sharply to the south than to the north, with an almost vertical drop of several hundred meters towards Walenstadtberg and eventually Lake Walen at 419 m. The southern slope of the range was significantly formed by the Rhine Glacier during the Würm glaciation.

Churfirsten mit Sommerschnee.JPG
The Churfirsten range as seen from the north (in September 2006); from left to right: Hinterrugg, Schibestoll, Zuestoll, Brisi, Frümsel, Selun.
Highest point
Elevation2,306 m (7,566 ft)
Coordinates47°9′7″N 9°17′53″E / 47.15194°N 9.29806°E / 47.15194; 9.29806Coordinates: 47°9′7″N 9°17′53″E / 47.15194°N 9.29806°E / 47.15194; 9.29806

The name is a plural, indicating the peaks forming the historical boundary of the bishopric of Chur. It has historically also been folk-etymologized as Kurfürsten, i.e. the prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire who in the later medieval period (until 1648) numbered seven, which in turn encouraged the count of seven main or "official" peaks.[1]

The standard "seven peaks" of the Churfirsten are (from west to east):

The count of exactly seven peaks is contrived; sometimes, Chäserrugg is not included and counted as part of Hinterrugg, because of its topographical prominence of a mere 14 m.

The Churfirsten seven peaks listed above have remarkably uniform heights (within just above a 100 m difference); the ridge continues both to the east and the west with a number of further peaks between 2000 and 2200 m that are not usually included as Churfirsten:

  • Peaks to the west of Selun: Wart (2068 m), Schären (or Schäären, 2184 m), Nägeliberg (2153 m), Glattchamm (2084 m), Leistchamm (2101 m).
  • Peaks to the east of Chäserrugg: Tristenkolben (2159 m), Gamserrugg (2076 m).

Churfirsten Zeichnung.jpg
an early 20th-century drawing (A. Heim 1913) of the Churfirsten as seen from the south, enumerating nine peaks:
Selun, Frümsel, Brisi, Zuestoll, Scheibenstoll, Hinterrugg, Chäserrugg, Tristenkolben, Gamserrugg.


  1. ^ Schweizerisches Idiotikon, s.v. "First" Archived 2014-02-26 at the Wayback Machine. The word First (dialectal also Fürst; from Middle High German virst) has a primary meaning of "roof-beam; gable", but secondarly came to mean "summit, mountain-top".