Just an hour and a half by car (or 2 and a half by train) on the other side of the Breithorn, the tallest peak that you can see from the balcony, is the village of Lötschental.
Do you dare to cross the mountain? At Carnival, these Tschäggättä masked figures will appear in the Lötschental. These bestial creatures are in fact locals from the valley who wear old clothes inside out, with the fur facing outwards. They are covered by two pieces of sheepskin or goatskin, held together by a leather belt with a cow bell ("Trichla") usually hanging down from their leather belt.
Hiding behind their handmade wooden masks, they run alone or in groups through the narrow streets of the mountain villages and frighten those around them and play pranks. This tradition sometimes became so reckless that the Church repeatedly had to prohibit it. Today, the Tschäggättä chiefly roam the valley on "Dirty Thursday",(Shrove Thursday) and hunt down and frighten anyone who is still out on the streets. There is a masked parade in the village of Wiler on the Saturday prior to Ash Wednesday.
The remote valley in the canton of Valais has only been connected to the outside world by a paved road since 1954. And so customs have survived here that are no longer known elsewhere. The Tschäggätta are the most spectacular proof of this.
In the mountain village of Blatten, the last town in the narrow valley, holidaymakers can see the best mask specimens. The "Maskenkeller" is a small museum and houses particularly impressive masks. https://www.loetschentalermuseum.ch/tragmaske-6/
No one really knows were the custom originated. However a story of the shady side of the valley with even poorer inhabitants is also often told: In order to be able to steal a few groceries from their more affluent neighbors on the sunny side without being recognized, they are said to have disguised themselves and thus established the custom.
You can do a mask carving workshop for 49CHF
The Carnival in Lötschental is from 03.02.2023 to 21.02.2023
Tschäggättä-Procession from Blatten to Ferden: 8pm 16. February
Carnival masquerade in Wiler: 3pm 18. February
Up to 3 people can enjoy their own private and unique wellness spa in 38°C warm water in a private tug boat on Lake Brienz. 248CHF for 90 minutes including a refreshment drink.www.pirate-bay.ch/de/hottug/wellness-hotpot-boot/
Listening to local myths and stories in a culture can really help to reveal characteristics of local people groups. The community of Lauterbrunnen is traditionally one of dairy farming. Since cheese is an elemental product in the livelihood of the farmers, so does it also takes centre stage in a tale from Aarau around the 1800’s.
One day, while looking out over his caramel and white cows enjoying their summer grass, Hans the young shepherd thought that perhaps he wanted to get married. And then he could be as contented as his cows in their high pastures. Surrounded by snow capped mountains, gurgling streams and the chirping of Marmots, Hans thought that being married, would bring fulfilment to his life.
Fortunately, Hans already knew three local sisters with whom he had been in school but he had not heard news of them since his years working on the alps in summer and in a garage in winter. Hans recalled that they were all equally beautiful and that they had all given him attention in class, such that he couldn’t think he had a favourite.
Hans mused over his memories of class times and teasing the girls by slipping half dead crickets into the pockets of their aprons and how he was punished with cow pats rubbed into his hair. Hans chuckled at the screams he remembered over the crickets. Such small harmless insects that always made a big impact. Beate, Dorina and Luzia were “townies” and not familiar with collecting insects and he wondered if they would make a suitable farming partner.
Hans decided to ask his mother, since she knew about girls and she was delighted to answer him, “If you want me to give you good advice," she said to him, "invite all three sisters over for supper and set out cheese for each of them and see how they handle it." The son followed this advice and invited the young ladies to his house and set the delicious matured Mountain cheese in front of them. He had made it himself and it had matured two years in a cool cave.
Beate, with the cheeky smile and chubby cheeks was the first to take her piece and greedily devoured the cheese. She ate so quickly, including the rind, so that not a trace was left. Then Dorina, with her high forehead and wide smile, took the knife and cut off the rind so thick that the piece with the rind that she threw away contained a lot of quality cheese on it. Hans was dismayed, that his hard work of shaping and pressing the cheeses was not understood on someone who could throw it away. Slowly he looked to Luzia, who had waited for her turn to use the knife. With slow and careful slicing, Luzia, with the freckles and short nose, calmly peeled the rind clean from the cheese, just as it should be.
“I’ll get us apples to eat” said Hans getting up from the table and he walked outside to where the apples were stored. Seeing his mother sitting in the sun peeling beans, Hans updated his mother on how the cheese tasting was going. His mother advised: "Take the third one, she will bring you luck."
And so Hans chose Luiza to be his bride, and throughout his life he has never regretted that he had followed his mother’s advice.
From: Otto Sutermeister: Children's and Household Tales from Switzerland (Aarau 1869), No. 39. The Swiss fairy tale has been found in a very similar way in Grimm's collection since 1819 under the title "Die Brautschau", KHM 155.
When we get asked about November weather we are always honest with potential guests. We say that many businesses take a rest in the valley to recover from summer and get ready for winter. So that while many restaurants may be closed for renovations, the Co op grocery store however, is always open since the locals still need to eat and school is in progress.
It is a good time to experience the valley like a local without the summer stream of visitors. The valley takes on a mystical mood and a hush as it breathes a sigh from the busyness of summer. As the earth gives up its warmth, the cold air condenses to a fog, mist or low cloud, although not everyday. That eerie Tolkin atmosphere creeps in and one feels the anticipation that change is coming. As indeed it is and the season moves into bright and beautiful colours with a crispness in the air.
A short ride to Wengen or Mürren and one can be in brilliant sunshine and look down at the low cloud cover over the valley.
The photo below is above Mürren. An easy 20 minute walk up from the station passing some local farms. It is very peaceful with a mysteriousness in front of you with one of Nature’s cloudblankets in front of you. Unless early snow has fallen up high at Kleene Scheidegg, you can walk down to Wengen, or over to Männlichen or up the Lauberhorn. Of course there is also the “other side” of the valley at Mürren. In both cases the trip to the Jungfraujoch and the Schilthorn are available all year. Both have other activities, dining and spectacular views.
Lots of special things seem to happen for guests. Here, a guest saw the birth of a calf in the meadow in front of the Eyhus.
Dairying has been a tradi8n in the valley however it is hard work, no holidays and low income. The average farm size is 18 hectares. These beautiful cows yield around 7000kg of milk per cow per year. That’s about 30 litres a day. Their price is around 4000 sFr.but to their owners they are priceless and are well cared for, even getting a regular wash. Each cow has a name
The diet of mixed meadow grasses and fresh water, really influence the flavour of the milk and then naturally the cheesed produced. A walk along the Farm road al8ng from the Staubbach Falls is a must where you can buy local farm cheese and sometimes fresh milk. The dairy on the path from Grütschalp to Mürren has a show window where you can view their production.
Some slices of cheese on fresh bread are a hiking picnic must-have and you will be helping the farmers pass on their livelihoods to the next generation.
People often ask when is the best time for wildflowers in the Berner Oberland region. There are actually waves of different wildflowers from June to September. The elevation and sun facing slope angle also play their part. At lower altitudes, Spring starts in May.
At Schynige Platte, the Alpine Garden at 1970 metres there mostly opens middle of May. It finishes toward the end of October (23rd October in 2022) when one sees seed pods and autumn colours There are different categories such as endangered species and climate change affected species. See www.alpengarten.ch
Admission is part of the 126 year old cog rail train fare from Wildersvil and there are often tradition alp horn players there and a ch8ice of short and long walks that overlook the stunning aqua coloured Brienz Lake.
Because it is the mountains, the weather is unpredictable. Snow in September was a surprise this year. However nature is full of surprises and not to be assumed.
Lauterbrunnen has always been kn9w for its beauty, dramatic valley rock walls and of courser countless waterfalls. One can say countless, because after rain, there are so many more springs that burst from the rocks from the increased groundwater level from above that squishes the water out anyway it can.
It would be one of the most spectacular sites in the world after rain. The waters roar, like the White Lütchine bursting and busying itself through the valley is met with most of the waterfall waters. It is spectacular. Even without rain, one can feel the power and hear the thunder of a mighty waterfall like the Mürrenbach falls next to the Schilthorn cable car station. Easy to get up close, but don’t go near the impact zone where the water is truly deadly.
Iconic beauty has done well on Instagram. Now there are many daily visitors coming to the Instagram photo sites. The Tourist Bureau even has an Instagram walk that you can do. Tom, the manager there , has faithfully uploaded daily, his beautiful photography to Instagram and everyone is thronging to see where he took his stunning photos.
A lush green valley with spurting waterfalls, all nearly 300 metres tall, and completely in one view. Such an eyeful and as far as you can see. Before becoming a trending social media hot spot, Lauterbrunnen enjoyed the usual day visitors by bus and guests staying in the valley who frequented the village cafes. After going viral, several more cafes have sprung up and at last Annies Chalet take away, right opposite the stunning Staubbach Falls selling ice cream and drinks.
Even when being conscious of social distancing, there is plenty of space and fresh air without feeling crowded. And you don’t get people in your photos because most of the photography is up ! One of the best places for a photos of the Staubbach Falls, is from the cemetery behind it. Seats are there and few people bother to wander through the colourful graveyard to gaze at the Staubbach and the valley view up to Wengen.
Naturally, the best view we think, is from the balcony of Eyhus, directly across from the Staubbach Falls.
Where to sit and watch the Staubbach Falls other than on our balcony or by the stream below?
The Graveyard opposite the apartment offers a few seats that are mostly vacant while people go to the Falls themselves just a short walk through the graveyard. From the apartment, you can walk directly to the Weisse Lütchine River in front of the apartment and across the bridge and up the path to the graveyard and you will find these seats at the top of the path.
Walking left along the Weisse Lütchine River in front of the apartment, with a newly paved road hat is more stroller friendly, one passes the covered bridge. Keep walking and when you view the Heliport on your left, look right for this quiet spot where you can take in the farm economy of the valley as well as the Staubbach Falls.
Another amazing waterfall worth watching is also nearby. Just after crossing the Weisse Lütchine River in front of the apartment, before going up towards the graveyard, you will see this seat in front of a tadpole pond. There is a lovely view back towards the Schiltwaldbach Wasserfall. Higher than the Staubbach, the Schiltwaldbach Waterfall orginates high in the Schiltwald forest not far from Innerwengen on the opposite side of the valley.
One of my favourite walks. This mirror lake, the Grauseeli, is just a little walk down from the Birg Cable Car station on the Schilthorn Cable Car route.
Hardly anyone visits it although most visitors on the cable car ride up to the Schilthorn may see it if they look down.
It is on a walking track that leads down the valley, also one that is not so often walked. It is a red and white, mountain grade track.
The full day walk (7 – 8 hours) can be done in a loop over the 11.06km with an ascent of 967 m and a descent of 964m.
Beginning in Mürren and taking the path up to the Allmendhubel and then continuing up some steep parts to the Schilthornhütte which is open Fridays – Sundays from July to September for a refreshment stop before heading higher where you can see the Birg Cable car station. It is a wide and well signposted track. In winter it is part of the ski run down to Mürren and in summer it is part of the Inferno triathlon.
It is a little steep down to the lake but a lovely place to rest, take a swim and many photos.
The walk continues down the steep and often rocky Schiltalp trail. The rocks can make it slippery so it is best not to hurry. You will wind your way down to Mürren via the Northface trail or a longer choice is over to the Rotstockhütte for afternoon tea before walking into Mürren. A long but rewarding day facing the stunning scenic mountain range the whole day.
Being up high in the world of glaciers is one of my favourite places to be. From the Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier) rail station, one can just sit there for hours and watch the various glaciers in just one view. If you go up to the Jungfraujoch, you can marvel at the heritage protected Aletsch arena of glaciers spilling out before you.
We are all a bit wobblily on the issue of climate change since we mostly feel that our small contribution of reducing our carbon footprint and use of plastics and so forth, seems to be meniscal in comparison to these ginormous and gorgeous glaciers that really are shrinking.
GLAMOS (www.glamos.ch) regularly produce updated glacier inventories. Climate change is real. In the last 5 years or so, the Eiger Glacier has lost some length and thickness.
In 1928 The Eiger Glacier was measured to have an area around 2.62 km2.
In 1973 the glacier had an area of 2.13 km2.
In 2011, it covers an area of 1.54 km2 and is 2.59 km long .
The relative area reduction is 30%.
Photos are: left 31 07 2015 and right 21 08 2020
For more than 300 years, the permanent hole in the middle of the Giessen glacier has kept the people of Lauterbrunnen guessing.
The so-called war hole is a common black spot, a gap in the ice mantle of the Giessen Glacier on the north-west flank of the Jungfrau massif . It can be seen from Wengen.
Whenever the spot is covered with ice, it is said that a major war will break out somewhere in the world. That was the case in the War of the Spanish Succession , in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 , 1914 and 1939 , but also earlier. The hole was also covered with ice during the Gulf War and the Six Day War .
An old valley myth claimed that a climber once reached the hole and reported that warm water flowed from the inside of the mountain. No one can say whether this is true.
Then on June 7, 2000 the Austrian mountaineer and researcher Rudi Mayr, accompanied by the Stechelberg mountain guide Jürg Abegglen, was the first recorded person ever to climb up the war hole after Air-Glaciers' helicopter pilot Sepp Galliker dropped him off.
Rudi Mayr also measured the radioactivity and cosmic radiation over a period of half an hour – all of this from the upper lip of the hanging glacier, where large boulders broke off non-stop, with the greatest risk of icefall. Mayr's comments on his findings of the same radiation exposures measured here as in Lauterbrunnen were: "possibly be resulting from thermally induced emissions of radon from the crystalline rock of the war hole." Maybe that is a glimmer of reason for the myth of warm water.
The mountains hold tight to their many mysteries and secrets and at the moment there is still too much winter snow to know if the war hole has iced over with the current world wars.
Foto: Bgvr - Eigenes Werk Giessengletscher von der Grütschalp aus gesehen
In mid January, the bell of the Grindelwald village church strikes twelve o'clock just before a single ray of sunshine will appear on the church square and then again in mid-November.
The sun star streams from behind the Eiger after passing through a hole in the rock about two by three meters in size to make the star. The rock window is called Martins Loch (hole) and is said to have been formed this way……
Once upon a time, a giant named Martin once lived at the foot of the Eiger.
In those days, there were no glaciers in the valley. The Eiger and Mettenberg stood next to each other, and there was no five-hundred-meter-wide canyon between Bäregg and Bonerren to let the ice flow in between. Only a small gap, a hole in the rock, let temporarily, the melt water pass through and it was mixed with ice blocks, that then dammed behind the rock barrier. Then the glacier creek roared in high waterfalls down into the rocky steps into the forest. But the pressure of the water and ice could get too powerful. Then the dam would break here and there, and a devastating flood would carry away and destroy all that was in the way; houses and barns, humans and animals.
Martin, was a man large in stature, some called him a giant as his strength was well known. He lived in a cave at the foot of the Eiger rock wall. The cave is still there today. Martin, seeing the oncoming devastation, risked his life in these times of glacial water outbreaks as he cared for the residents of the valley.
Rather than always taking these risks, Martin decided to remedy the problem. Martin climbed up into the narrow gap, leaned back against the Mettenberg side, and using his feet and walking stick, he pushed back and stemmed the waterflow against the Eiger. With a powerful pounding and pressing, a crash went through the mountains, that forced them apart. Finally, it was done. Martin had made the hole gape open so far now, that the water had sufficient space to rush on through without endangering the people living beneath. In his tremendous effort, Martin had bumped a hole with is stick into the Eiger. And it is still there.
.Source: Challigroosi and Muggestutz, Grindelwald Sagas, collected and rewritten by Rudolf Rubi (1981/2018)
Inspired by this natural phenomenas all his life, the Grindelwald photographer, Speedy Füllmann, knows the best places to photograph this stunning spectacle.
On certain days Speedy says that he sees the sun shining through the Martinsloch from his terrace. "The mood is different every time”, he says, “Sometimes there are clouds in the background, sometimes the sun casts a shadow on them, and sometimes you can see snowdrifts in the picture". Speedy does not use star filters or Photoshop effects.
Being able to control your speed is the most crucial secret. Ripping down the Schilthorn like James Bond is not going to impress anyone if you fall and take 3 people with you breaking bones and worse.
Position and balance are connected to controlling speed and choosing your path down the slope.
• Keep your weight on the balls of your feet.
• Stay balanced over the centre of the skis.
• Keep your body in a stable ‘ready position’ over the middle of the skis. This means all of your skiing joints (ankles, knees and hips) are ‘flexed’ (soft).
• Keep your hands in front of you and relaxed. When your hands are in the correct position, you will be able to pole plant using only your wrist. If you need to reach forwards with your arm or shoulder, your hands are too far back.
• Look where you want to go.
Staying flexed allows your joints to be shock absorbers without damaging your joints. Do not stiffen or Set your muscles.
Try and keep your body at a 90-degree angle to the slope and stay over the centre of the skis. You will need to move forwards with the increasingly steep terrain, otherwise you will be leaning back.
Finish a turn with your weight balanced over the outside (or ‘working/downhill’) ski. The inside edge of the outside ski has the best grip to the snow.
A short turn will help control your speed. Make it a quick short turn. You can always skid at the start of your turn to help slow yourself down until you get more confident.
To make your ski grip early in the turn, think about putting more weight on the outside ski earlier in the turn to give it more pressure and then it should make a more rounded turn.
The longer your skis face down the slope, the faster you will go. So make many short quick turns and look where you are going.
Sometimes the temperatures have been so cooooold at night and the snow grading machines having been hammering away, that by the time you reach the start of a run at 8:30, it is hard packed and icy. Often the machines makes ridges in the snow with their caterpillar feet. These be an edge catcher on a cold morning.
Also at higher altitude when the snow catches hot afternoon sun, like at Wixi or Eiger Nord Wand, it will thaw and freeze overnight when the temperature drops. Another factor to consider is that after a windy storm the loose snow is blown off exposing very hard or icy surfaces.
We all know that shearing sound, like fingernails on a chalk borad. Then ensing muscles and the pain of a fall as if on concrete. If your ski edges are dull, rusty or dinged, they are basically ‘blunt’ and it will not helpy out to turn or stop on ice or hard packed snow. So stay tuned!
If you’ve been skiing a lot of icy runs, look your edges over daily and file the burrs off.
We love our Ski workbench that is also in the ski storage room,, so easy to check edges everyday.
Now you have sharp edges, you still need to adjust your body position to help hold your edges and keep your skis from slipping out from under you. On ice, you want more of your body in the centre and over the centre of your skis so as to keep your edges gripping.
Do this by lowering your hips and, bending from the waist, lean your upper body down the fall-line. This movement helps keep your body weight more on the inside edge of your downhill ski all the while leaning your feet and ankles into the hill for edge grip.
The best body position for controlling your skis on ice depends on the type of skis you are on - twin-tip, fat, the amount of sidecut, ski length and your body-weight distribution. With all these variables it's necessary to practice on a less steep icy slope until you find that comfort zone.
• If you ski with skis close together separate your skis a little more on ice for better stability - but not so far apart that it is difficult to position your weight over the downhill ski.
• If the icy area is just a small patch and you see soft snow downhill from the ice ski across the ice maintaining balance and then turn in the soft snow.
• When coming to a stop on ice don't try to stop suddenly by digging your edges into the ice. Instead, begin the stop by side slipping to a gradual stop applying gentle pressure to the ski edges. You will hear that prolonged scrapping and know you have side slipped well.
• Be confident to plant your poles firmly, otherwise timing, weighting, balance will be lost.
Great early quality snow in December!
Powder places to ski are still fresh to be found.
Spindrift seen here on top of EM & J.
For snow, Spindrift, is defined as fine grained snow being carried by wind or falling. In practice it is usually used to describe the frequent sluffs of snow that fall down steep slopes, gullies, and faces. This occurs frequently during snowfall or warming, but may occur at other times and for other reasons as well.
The reason very steep slopes have less of a slab avalanche danger is because the snow tends to fall off frequently enough to avoid an accumulation, in the form of spindrift avalanches.
Climbers on steep routes during storms often encounter spindrift at regular intervals. They can even anticipate the next one by keeping an eye on their watch. The intervals will depend on rate of snowfall, winds up above, density of the snow, etc
While it can be windy up on the peaks, the ski slopes can be well sheltered. This photo shows the Wixi ski run accessed from Kleine Scheidegg. A popular intermediate run with lots of options and also a choice in white out conditions for its predictability and position.
At the working Hydropower powerplant run by EWL in Stechelberg, you can visit the Eco Garden on their trail to see the labelled Flora examples. Although there are no benches, you can bring a blanket to sit on, picnic and enjoy the Weisse Lütchine and the Sefinen Lütchine Rivers after looking through this “compensatory garden”.
Since 1905 the hydropower had come from both the Sefinen Lütschine and the Weisse Lütchine rivers. Since 2005, the use of the Weisse Lütchine was stopped so that it could be preserved as a natural ecosystem and the Eco garden was built around 2013.
The Plant produces eco-friendly energy. To some extent, the making of electricity reduces the flow of the river compared to its natural state. This in turn can reduce the quality of habitat for fish and other river animals.
Compensation measures that were put into place include this revegetation of the meadow with flowers, creating two ponds for spawning grounds for residents such as frogs. A ‘Fish ladder’ was built to help fish move upstream in their season. The power plant also produces a little Creek of its own which flows back into the main river.
You can get to the edge of the Weisse Lütchine and enjoy its gurgling power jumping over rocks and boulders before it meets the Sefinen Lütschine.
Some days are just right for a BBQ and you wish you could find one!
There are several free BBQ places around the Lauterbrunnen Valley that also have firewood supplied and rustic tables and chairs. They can be hidden gems to find when the little kids have had enough walking and need to rest. This gives a good time to get the fire burning and coals just right to grill locally made sausages from the Butcher in the middle of Lauterbrunnen.
While it takes a little preparation to think ahead to bring some paper and matches and a few “tools”, it is a time to take time and enjoy the experience and the surrounds. Here are a few locations:
At the Schmelzofen (Photo) or Smelting furnace from the 17th century, along the track beside the Weisse Lütchine about 10 minutes walk from the Zweilütschinen train station. It is about 30 minutes’ walk from Lauterbrunnen along a gravely path so not so good for strollers from this direction. It is well shaded and the kids can explore the inside of the old oven. GPS 46°37'16.9"N 7°54'13.7"E
In Lauterbrunnen there is a Grilling place with stunning views of the valley and of the Staubbachfall and Spiss waterfalls. In fact, the closest waterfall is called Spiss. This is also under some shady trees and along the paved farm road, it is easy for strollers. From the Carpark next to the church, walk past the Staubbachfall after filling up your water bottle at the water fountain there 😊 and keep walking up a slight rise with a dairy on your right you will soon see the Fireplaces and tables on the right. Such a rural scene with the cows usually in the surrounding meadows and the Weisse Lütchine rushing along below. GPS 46°34'57.9"N 7°54'37.4"E
Behind the Schilthornbahn cable car station, not far from Stechelberg, is another grilling place wit ha stunning view to the mighty Mürrenbachfall. You can catch the bus to the cable car station and walk over the bridge or walk along the road from Lauterbrunnen past the Staubbachfall for about an hour and when the road becomes a gravelly path for about 200 metres you will soon arrive at the fireplaces on the right. There are toilets at the cable car station and a fresh water fountain ‘mountain style’ at the BBQ place. Lots to look at here with many para gliders landing o nthe grassy area behind the carpark. GPS: 46°33'21.6"N 7°54'02.3"E
The fireplace is a little outside of Wengen along the trail towards the Leiterhorn, Burglauenen and Männlichen. The area is a bit hidden as it is behind and above a row of old dark brown traditional barns. There is lots of shade and a forest to play in as well as the view GPS 46°36'44.7"N 7°55'06.4"E
Naturally it is like hiking, you want to just leave footprints and a clean plate for the next people. 👣
Bänkli means little seats in Swiss German. There are 9 of them facing the magnificent Staubbachfall on the other side of the Valley that is dropping 300 metres in the middle.
From Wengen train station walk towards the shop called Coop and then right under the railway line. Follow the road to the junction near the Hotel Bären then turn left along a level path past the Schweizerhof and the Chalet Breithorn.
You will follow the road up a little hill past Marys Café , keep going past a farm house with a fridge where you can buy their products. A bit further there is a farm and guest house on the right. You will see the rows of seats under the shady trees.
A lovely place to picnic and bring your binoculars so you can spy on the Staubbachfall opposite and look for its source high up.
Do keep an eye on children and don’t let them venture over the fence.
The 3 snow-capped peaks you can see in the distance are the Grosshorn, the Breithorn and Tschingelhorn.
GPS 46°35'34.2"N 7°55'14.3"E
From Iseltwald one can catch the tiny cable car to Sulwald at 1500 metres for an authentic Alpine experience.
First, catch the Mini Post bus to Iseltwald from next to Lauterbrunnen Train Station, in front of the Steinbock Hotel. The bus ride takes you through a kilometre long spiral tunnel and around hairpin bends. Better than driving.
Iseltwald offers a steep village short stroll to view the traditional and quaint houses that overlook the Lauterbrunnen Valley and beyond.
After your private ‘air lift’ in this tiny romantic cable car with very friendly staff to send you on your way, you can have a morning coffee at the Café, Sulwald-Stübli. You can choose from many trails and look around at the variety of homes in this unique village.
A relatively easy walk about 90 minutes is to the Lobhornhütte at 1955 metres for lunch. You get the most stunning views of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, (known as E,M, J) along this trail and see the traditional high summer dairy industry.
An almost ‘all the way’ paved walk to the Sulsbach waterfall is also worth the 40 minutes,
You can also walk to Grütschalp., about 2 hours. But if you have already bought your return cable car ticket that will not work. So you need to decide where you want to go for the day 😊
There is also some fun Scooter action called Monstertrooti is a 4 km ride for the kids to do on Sundays Sulwald to Isenfluh. www.isenfluh.ch
Did you enjoy discovering the power of Nature? The whole of the Jungfrau Region is a paradise for explorers of the wonders of Nature.
And one of the fun things is when it is not so crowded. The thrilling Rosenlaui Schlucht, which means Gorge, is like an unknown gem. It is rarely crowded and you are mostly the only ones there enjoying the surprises around each corner. Looking down into the ever-changing gorge that forces the river to twist and turn. The ancient glacial actions have created extraordinary rock sculptures for the waters to pour over and swirl through.
It was a total surprise to walk about an hour through the fenced and paved walkway with some steep steps and cave like parts to pass through and feel like Indiana Jones wondering to where the passage would lead.
As part of the UNESCO World Heritage Jungfrau-Aletsch, you will agree that it needs to be preserved. There are some numbered plates along the path that leads along the gorge from the forest. These numbers refer to formations that the gushing glacial river has carved, such as an elephant's head to the right of the main waterfall. You can find your own if you can concentrate above the often-roaring water and your heartbeat!
Such a magnificent piece of nature it is a little sad to leave. There are so me picnic tables as you come out so you can linger in this magic place. Sometimes there is access given to the walking track leading higher up behind the gorge. Otherwise the stroll down through the forest and along another stream is a chillout time with some lovely views and places to peek over the fence into the racing gorge from above.
The 10 sFr entry is excellent value for such a powerful experience. rosenlauischlucht.ch/en/Welcome
Although we walked down from Grosse Scheidegg, one can also drive to the Gorge from Meiringen along a twisty Alpine road, or catch the bus so you can admire the waterfalls and river along the way. There is a Café at the Gorge with a balcony in the sun and of course a view to enjoy.
Has a long distance mountain hike been on your bucket list? Then you have probably heard of the Via Alpina.
Wikipedia explains that the Via Alpina is a network of five long-distance hiking trails across the alpine regions of Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Monaco. Apparently created in 200 by a group of public and private organisations for the purpose to “support sustainable development in remote mountain areas and to promote the Alpine cultures and cultural exchanges.”
There is an official website here http://www.via-alpina.org and you can get a special passbook and have it stamped at stages along the way.
You can walk two sections as day trips from the Lauterbrunnen Apartment. They are easily reachable with details here,
http://www.via-alpina.org/en/stage/116 and http://www.via-alpina.org/en/stage/117
116: From Grindelwald it is a reasonably easy uphill climb to Kleine Scheidegg below the towering Eiger and with the lush alpine fields all around you. The cows you meet along the way are not so curious and their jangling bells are a summer delight. Notice how the cows will take an afternoon nap around the same time each day in the Berner Oberland.
At Kleine Scheidegg rail station you can get your Via Alpina pass stamped and there are other mini side trips you can make. Such as up to Eigergeletscher station and visit the Eiger indoor tribute to its climbers along the way. Or a steep hike up to the Lauberhorn peak will take you about 2 hours to enjoy super views down into Wengen where you will walk to next. You can join the trail again from here directly down at Wengenalp and you will be following the first part of the famous World Cup ski race line.
From Wengenalp follow the trail down to Wengen and explore this very Swiss village before taking the steep trail down to Lauterbrunnen. If you walk through the main street of Wengen to the white church which is left past the chemist, you can enjoy amazing views of Lauterbrunnen Valley and the Staubbachfall.
The total distance, without the side trips is 17.8km from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen. At this point you can always take the train down, however three are lovely waterfalls to see on the steep trail down. Also you can get your pass stamped at the Valley Hostel in Lauterbrunnen.
117: Lauterbrunnen to Griesalp is a 20 kilometre section with some steep climbs and a gravelly descent. A tip would be to use begin your day early with the Cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschlp. The walk from here to Mürren is a spectacular quintessential alpine view and an easy hour to start your day. You will likely meet goats along the way , pass the cheese making hut and the saw mill before maybe enjoying a coffee and the view in Mürren before the steep part of your day begins.
It is around 2 and a half hours from Mürren up 400m to the Rotstockhütte where you can enjoy a panoramic lunch. The track takes you in around an hour and a half up 600m to the Sefinenfurgge pass at 2612m. From here the glorious view of the Schilthorn, the Kiental and the Blüemlisalp will stay with you forever.
Then there is the steep descent into the Kiental valley leads you down ropes and ladders and some slippery gravel, however the track is clear. The alpine meadows will herald your arrival and you will have descended around 1400m and you can get your stamp at the Hotel Griesalp while enjoying a well earned refreshment.
Be careful to note the time as the bus 220 from Griesalp Kurhaus to Reichenbach i. K. takes 45 min and runs only 6 times per day (8:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00,18:00).
gimmewald-trail-rotstock-via-alpina-lauterbrunnen-apartment-jungfrau.jpgFrom Reichenbach i. K., Bahnhof take the train to Spiez and change train to Interlaken Ost and then onto Lauterbrunnen. A long and rewarding day in the Jungfau that you can reminisce about on the balcony watching the Staubbachfall after your sauna.
Just like what often happens to the middle sibling in a family of three children, the middle mountain, called the Mönch, is often the forgotten one. Mönch is however, bigger than its little brother the Eiger who gets more attention because of its famous climbing history. So forgotten, this rocky massive was without a name until given the modified name from the grazing area below called Münche. In summer you can meet cows grazing below the train line under the watchful Mönch.
You can get closer to this Berner Oberland giant from the Eiger Gletcher train station by walking along the path behind the station. You will be awed by the Eiger glacier magnificently etching its way down from the Eiger but sheltered on the right by the protective Mönch. Interesting how glaciers are named, it could have easily been named the Mönch glacier but presumably the glaciologists had a reason.
The Mönch was 4,100m when officially remeasured in 1996. Although the icy world of glaciers is shrinking, the Mönch's snow cap is growing and today it is usually noted as being 4,107m high.
There is an inspiring one hour walk from the Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe train station via the Spinx tunnel to the Mönchsjochhütte. It is about 2 kilometres with 197m ascent, but mostly above 3,500m so don't rush and do not attempt it if the weather is foggy or stormy.
The Mönch is still popular for climbers since it is in the 4000m category, unlike the Eiger at 3970m. First summited on August 15, 1857 by the local Grindelwald guide Christian Almer who had grown-up with the dream of reaching the Mönch summit as he cared for dairy cows in the alpine pastures below. Colleagues with Almer were Ulrich and Christian Kaufmann and Sigismund Porges from Austria.
For experienced climbing alpine enthusiasts, the summit is considered a 'fast climb to a 4,000m'. There are actually 6 routes to the summit, but there is no easy highway. The South arm of the east ridge route is the most popular. Accessed about 15 minutes before the Mönchsjochhütte at 3650m, a rock ridge stretches down toward the glacier and you turn left to the rock, usually there is a pole marker there. Look for a rain gauge on the ridge as you go over loose scree. The ridge becomes narrow, and then you will need experienced climbing skills and proper climbing equipment with 50m rope, harness, 3 quickdraws, ribbon slings and wear a helmet. Naturally it is often iced over so you really do need experience and a resistance to heights when you walk along the narrow ridge.
(Maps: Swisstopo 1229, Grindelwald; 254 T Interlaken)
At the top of the Mönch is the border to the next canton called Valais, but there is no fence😆.
Views of course over the magnificent UNESCO Aletsch Glacier are breath-taking but here, you will be surrounded by glaciers. You will feel on top of the world. In the direction of the Eiger on the left is the Eigergletscher, next to it is the Nollengletschen and Guggigletscher and to the right of the Eiger is the Obers Schmee and Ewigschneefälld. Behind you are the Jungfrau and Aletsch glaciers.
The Swiss Alpine association has information here: Huts and Tours
An overnight stay is a treat at the Mönchsjochhütte. You can witness the silence of dawn and the easing of a coloured sunset here as you enjoy quality Swiss hospitality. It is the highest manned hut in Switzerland and bookings can be made here at the hut itself.
A little wind today and the Staubbach Falls are spraying a wide mist as they tumble down in this between-season time. The sun for many hours on the balcony, from the long daylight saving days makes lazing with one’s feet up on the railing an easy activity.
While the trees are not yet dressed, the fish are easily seen and buzy in the Lüterbach stream below the balcony. Some local boys come to try their luck fishing in the Weisse Lütschine (White Lütschine) opposite the apartment in the image above. Their nets and rods give them lots of fun but they went home with an empty bucket.
The Weisse Lütschine has several tributaries that you can see as you walk along the path opposite the apartment heading up towards Stechelberg. Many named and unnamed gushes from the massive high walls as waterfalls down the steep cliffs. One is the into the Staubbach Falls and also the Trümmelbach Falls (the water fall inside the mountain you must visit) and the Schmadribachfall. The highest waterfall in Switzerland is here, the Mürrenbachfall, with a height of 417 meters that enters into this Weisse Lütschine.
Is there a Black Lütschine? Yes ! The Schwarze Lütschine, or Black Lütschine, flows from Grindelwald to Zweilütschinen or Two Lütschine. You can see the two rivers mixing their colours under the bridge by this train station of the same name. Fund rafting experience is to be had from down the Schwarze Lütschine while the Weisse Lütschine challenges solo canoeists who begin their adventure opposite the balcony of the apartment. They are quickly out of sight and we often wonder what that would be like.
The spring flowers are bursting out. Blues, yellows and whites, making a carpet on the meadows. See the heart in this group of flowers? What a picture, I couldn’t believe it.
It is a great time for holiday accommodation as the village is not buzy and there are no crowds and everything feels fresh and the air is warm. Yes there are some rainy days, but that makes the grass green and I saw the first cows let out today from their winter stalls. They were crazy hungry for that new green grass they have missed all winter while being indoors.
The variety of flowers and grasses in the meadows is one of the secrets to the flavour of the milk and cheeses made in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. We walked up to Wengen through these flower bursting meadows along the well-marked path and through the forest. We did not see a Chamoix or Gemse (Mountain Goat), these are the most common although we have seen them previously when they get surprised and are caught loafing off in the shadows when a person comes by on the trail. Then they spring in a flash and a rush past you as you wonder “what was that?’. There are a few of the larger Reh Deer and occasionally an Ibex or Steinbock you can see in the cliffs. Although there is a hunting season, there is plenty of fodder on the slopes for all.
Wengen is a “must see” visit with another Bäckeri (bakery) with delicious cakes, bread and sandwiches. Take your purchases to the seats at the lookout by the church to enjoy the most spectacular view of Lauterbrunnen. Need a few groceries for dinner? There is another Coop supermarket, prices the same as the ones in Lauterbrunnen and Interaken, so one canbuy more fresh bread and cheese before walking down the other path to Lauterbrunnen.
Being holiday means not so much cooking but since it is still light until late, we often eat supper on the balcony. Our kitchen has most culinary tools one could need and tonight I prepared sautéed mushrooms and zucchini with local Lauterbruunen butter then steamed with lashings of quark #. Served over spiral pasta with super diced thinned sliced local ham from the Metzgerei (Burcher) in Lauterbrunnen. Fast, easy and delicious! – Guten Apetit!
# Quark is amazing. It is a fresh acid-set cheese. Traditional it is made without rennet, but in sometimes rennet is added. Low fat (wow so lucky) like yoghurt in calories, it is smooth, soft, white and thicker than cream but not fatty. One can use it in everything. From making a dip, spreading on crackers or with vegetables, to making soup, stirring into vegetables, which I did tonight, or topped with honey for breakfast, yumo!
When you visit the stunning Staubbach Falls that you have been watching mesmerized from the dining table of Eyhus 5, you will find a beautiful poem written on a plaque there.
Song of the Spirits over the Waters was written between 9 to 11th October 1779 when the author, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was on his second visit to Lauterbrunnen. It was published ten years later in 1789 as a six-stanza poem and is categorised in poetry terms as a lyric and thought genre.
The soul of man Is like the water:
From heaven comes,
To heaven it rises,
And down again
To the earth it must,
Flowing from the high,
steep rock face
The pure ray,
Then it dusts sweetly
In cloud waves
To the smooth rock,
And easily received, It
to the depth.
If cliffs loom
The fall meet,
Foams he angrily
In shallow bed he
creeps up the meadow valley,
And in the smooth lake
graze her countenance
Wind is the wave
Wind mixes from the bottom
Soul of man,
how are you like the water!
Fate of man,
how are you like the wind!
Wikipedia says of the poem: "Goethe draws a comparison between the elements of nature and human existence; In concrete terms, he contrasts the human soul with the element of water and calls similarities between the two. The main theme is the transience of human life. The wind embodies the predestination of life. While the soul of man approaches the inevitable end of life, fate is alienated, and any attempt by humans to take it in their own hands can only fail."
Inspired by this poem, in 1820, the music composer Franz Schubert composed a compelling 10 minute orchestral piece; “Gesang der Geister über den Wassern" You can here the piece here:
EMPA design Materials and Technologies for a Sustainable Future.
EMPA began as the “Building Materials Testing Institute” in the cellars of Zurich’s Federal Polytechnical School (now ETH Zurich) in 1880. Of course there is a German acronym here. EMPA is the short version for Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt.
What does sustainability look like in practice? How does it actually work? What’s different from the world we live in today? And, perhaps most importantly, what are the trade-offs? Walking and biking might be the most sustainable forms of transportation, but they’re probably not the most time-efficient if you need to drive 10 miles across town for work or an appointment. No matter how different we want the future to be, we can’t simply ignore the way people actually live today. We cannot simply wish for a world we want.
Regardless of what sustainability looks like for you, EMPA have just succeeded in making a lock that is made of printed, transparent electronics. So that only authorized persons know where to enter the access code.
The special sensor surface material cannot be seen by the human eye and can be positioned in suitable locations, such as above a door hinge. Says EMPA researcher Evgeniia Gilshtein, "the circuits can just as easily be positioned on a pane of glass or a curved door handle."
Read about it here www.empa.ch/web/s604/transparent-security
We all know that slight rubbing that we try and ignore. We hope it will go away. We think maybe it’s just wrinkle in our sock. But we want to ski another run before making a detailed and time consuming inspection that will steal from our precious skiing time. Alas, during our delay, a bubble has formed.
Our skin consists of several layers that usually interlock with one another through fine structures. The upper or outer skin is called the epidermis. Underneath lies the dermis, in which the hair roots and sweat glands are located. The lowest layer, which is still counted as part of the skin, is subcutaneous tissue which contains the blood vessels, among other things.
Whenever something rubs repeatedly, along with warmth and humidity, the interlocking skin layers loosen after a while and tissue fluid flows into the newly created spaces. Voila a bubble is born.
When deeper layers of the skin loosen, blood can also flow in.
Although the liquid now protects the deeper skin layers from even more pressure and damage, the pressure in the tissue is increased. This triggers the “pain” signal to the brain. So avoiding friction of any kind is the best prevention.
1 Footwear must fit well when feet are warm to hot and have swollen. That means no pressure points. And no slip points, such as heel movement. When buying ski boots, if you cannot get a specialist boot fitter, tya and spend as much time in your boots before buying them. An hour in the store is not long enough. Some stores will let you take them home so you can wear them for 6 hours while binge watching Netflix.
2 The right sport socks – the best friends of your feet and they can prevent blisters by keeping the foot dry.
Sock size must fit perfectly with no creases. Socks including merino wool improve the water absorption and still feel dry to the touch. No cotton socks! Running, hiking and skiing socks are simply designed differently.
Special “anti-blister“ socks have a double-layered, which means that the inner and outer socks can move in opposite directions so that the sock rubs against the sock and not on the skin. Clever idea but I haven’t tried them. People say an under sock such as a compression sock can help. I prefer 1 layer as my feet swell and I like a tight boot fit.
3 Foot conditioning can help. Do you wear bare feet at home? That can help to firm up the skin. Ensuring toenails are clipped short will help reduce pressure points.
4 Using Tape in areas you know will blister can help. Ensure no wrinkles when you tape onto clean dry skin. Better to regularly get the best fitting boots. If you ski hard more than 20 days a season, then you need new boots every 2 years. Forget second-hand boots, you’re feet are worth more than that. I did that when I was desperate to ski and I skied in jeans so I could afford to buy my lift ticket.
Where dreams begin for outdoor adventures in the inspiring Jungfrau region