Friday, 19 September 2014

Hello Jungfrau

Today we were scheduled to leave Grindelwald, but the weather looked pretty good, so we decided to execute plan "Last Minute Jungfrau".  This is not a trip you want to make and have it end in cloud, since a single return ticket from Grindelwald is 184 CHF!  I guess they did dig a tunnel through the friggin Eiger and build a mini city and winter Disneyland at 3466 m, so OK....Thankfully we had half-fare cards (you should almost certainly get one if you are going to do this trip) to make it more palatable.  I'd heard some people had made the trip and been unimpressed, and they thought it wasn't worth the money.  They were wrong.

Travel time from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch is about 1:35 , so this is basically a full day affair once you account for looking around at the top and travel to/from the station.  We had no trouble parking at Grindelwald.  You switch trains at Kleine Scheidegg, where there is somewhat of a panicked rush as people attempt to get a seat on the side with the 'best' view, although it actually matters little because in very short order you enter a tunnel and stay in there till the top.

The first stop of note is at Eigerwand (2865 m), where you depart the train for a few minutes and have the amazing experience of looking out a window down the north face of the Eiger (this is the point of light in the middle of the mountain that you can see in the last photo in my previous post).  Sadly Em and the kids missed this because the youngest was fast asleep in her lap and it was the only chance he would have to nap today.

Looking directly down the face of the Eiger from the Eigerwand windows. This made a huge impression on me.  To get a view that only serious mountaineers and climbers can usually get after years of training, just by sitting on my butt on a train seemed amazing, and also like...cheating.

Looking out from Eigerwand

The windows in the north face of the Eiger

The next stop is Eismeer, same deal, get out and look through the windows.  Em still trapped under kid :(

Em's dad isn't the only guy crazy enough to visit glaciers in shorts.

View from Eismeer

View from Eismeer

Windows at Eismeer

Our train waiting at Eismeer
The next stop is Jungfraujoch itself.  It sits in a col at 3466 m between the Jungfrau (4158 m) and the Mönch (4107 m) and is the highest railway station in Europe.

We're at the top! It's cold outside but not crazy cold.
The Aletsch glacier. The mountain in the distance as the glacier rounds the corner is the Eggishorn, which we were standing on top of 5 days earlier!  In the foreground you can see a party of people crossing the glacier to the Mönchsjoch Hut, which actually sounds like a fairly easy but really fun walk (just crampons required I think, we saw a school group getting ready to do it, this might even be them). 

I honestly don't get people.  I couldn't be less interested in shopping for watches when I could be staring at one of the worlds most amazing views.

View from outside the Sphinx observatory.  It was really windy, so even with warm gear and gloves we couldn't stay out for long, and the kids hated it.  Lucky there is a nice warm glass-enclosed viewing area too.

If memory serves, this is the Mönch

and this is the part of the Jungfrau that was visible

Aletsch glacier

Ice palace.  Honestly this was just not that interesting.  It was way too cold for the kids so we went through in shifts.  It's really slippery ice underfoot, but there is a handrail. 

After a fairly 'meh' spin through the exhibition and the ice palace, we spent quite a while throwing snowballs at each other on the plateau snow play area.  This was probably the highlight of the whole trip for the kids.

On the way back down we got off the train at Eigergletscher.  My original plan was to take the Eiger trail, which hugs the North face of the Eiger from Eigergletscher, rejoining with the train at Alpiglen.  But we were fast running out of time, having a long drive still to do, and Em didn't fancy carrying a kid and a backpack that far.  Instead we opted to walk the shorter but still spectacular Jungfrau Eiger walk from Eigergletscher to Kleine Scheidegg, where we would pick up the next train.

I'd highly recommend doing this, you get spectacular views that are much better than what you can see just from the train.  The walk isn't difficult, it's almost all downhill.

Chocolate and cigarettes, everything you need for the swiss alps

Looking back up towards Eigergletscher station

Sun poking through the clouds and spectacularly illuminating Mürren, where we were the day before.

We spent a lot of time and money looking at these three blobs of rock from many different angles, and I still wasn't sick of it.

A chair with the best viewing angle for each of the 3 peaks! Just beside this is a great little museum that shows you all the different climbing routes that have been taken up the Eiger.
I was amused.

Schilthorn!  (I think anyway).  This James Bond icon is one thing we missed.

Amazing trip.  Worth every dollar.

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