Welcome back to our trip to Grindelwald. Today we go hiking in the mountains. You can have a look at day one here.
Recovering from a restless sleep of wild meat/cheese induced dreams, we attempted to devise a plan of action for the day. Three cups of coffee in, pamphlets and maps scattered over the table, we had too many options and not enough days to discover them all. Our guesthouse hosts came to our aid, simply by their dismay that we would begin anywhere other than Kleine Scheidegg.
Kleine Scheidegg (“minor watershed”) is a mountain pass situated between the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks. At 2061 meters, it’s actually higher than the neighbouring Grosse Scheidegg. From there you could walk up to get a view of all the major hits: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
We walked down to the station passing pristine gardens and chalets decorated with flowerbox windows. The flowers are natural mosquito repellants. With train tickets and some further advice from the boy at the office, we were on our way up. When we told people in London that we were going to the Swiss Alps, more than one seemed confused at the thought of going in summer. Sure, it’s a ski resort town. And sure, we are not rock climbers. But in summer the Alps, are quite possibly at their best. You aren’t battling with scores of people, and the temperature is mild and comfortable.
When the snow has melted, alpine flowers begin to scatter the surface. Many of these only grow above a certain altitude. Braunvieh cows graze on lush mountain pastures filled with these flowers and hundreds of different herbs not found in the valleys. This diet gives them a culinary high that, together with the fresh mountain water and greater freedom of movement, leads to the production of Switzerland’s sought after alpine cheese.
We made our way up the trail to Eigergletscher, passing a reservoir (complete with three park benches facing each of the mountains and freezing cold foot baths). Resting / sunbaking on rocks looking out to the snow covered mountaintops, ravens and bi-planes gliding overhead, we contemplated our next move along the Eiger trail.
The famous north face of the Eiger (Nordwand: North Wall) is 1,800 meters of rock and ice, the biggest north face in the Alps. Since 1935 at least 64 climbers have died attempting it, earning it the German nickname Mordwand, “murder(ous) wall”.
Described as moderately difficult for the experienced hiker, the Eiger trail was for the most part a well-graded path. To be fair, we were walking on a downward gradient, rather than up. But a stark difference from some other scree covered trails we have experienced. Passing streams and waterfalls, we came to a crossroads where the path to Grindelwald went both left and right. The left was shorter. We chose the right. The right path down to Grindelwald involved a pretty nice forest that we wanted to explore. What we didn’t know then is that the trail passed by a snow cave, validating for us the extra 30-minute walk.
Through the forest, and finally at the bottom, we caught the bus back into town. There we got a table at Onkel Tom's Hütte (the first place recommended by our friendly local on the first night, but where we couldn’t get into). Full of delicious pizza and beer, we made our way to our guesthouse, just in time for the rain from that night’s thunderstorm to start coming down.
As you may have seen we are welcoming a new contributor to Cultured Kiwi. Jan and I have been friends since the first day of University many moons ago. Since then we have both developed a love for travel. I chose to document my travels with photos and videos, Jan has always kept a well drilled diary.
So after much convincing she has agreed to do some writing for Cultured Kiwi so long as we plan some more travel. That I can do!
You can get in touch with Jan here:
I have but one ask of you: Please have a good read of Jan's write-up above and let us know what you think in the comments below. We would like to produce more rich content like this in the future and constructive feedback really helps a lot!
Jan / Ben - Cultured Kiwi