Summer has slowly waved farewell and autumn has been boasting its colours to beautify the valley in gold before the shorter winter days and snow appear.
November is a time when many businesses try and take a month of rest. They seek some remaining warm weather a little further south to get recharged in readiness for winter visitors.
This summer has been full in the valley, with many more visitors than usual as people have begun to travel again after Covid put their plans on hold. This has caused quite an overload this year on the valley of Lauterbrunnen and the services offered by the local council, such as toilets and parking.
So what is it like to live in a village that has suddenly become an Instagram favourite? Here are some comments from local residents at a local meeting…..
“We feel like employees at an amusement park”
“We are almost desperate, we locals simply have no room left in Lauterbrunnen,”
At a local residents meeting, it was clearly said that Day-trippers are problematic for traffic because they come just to see the Staubbach waterfall and leave without even buying a coffee, “They come in a rental car, take photos of the Staubbach Falls and then leave again.” This leads to traffic chaos: “I have the feeling that I live next to a motorway, people drive into the valley and out again. It’s annoying”
Tourists walk into people's private garden areas to take photos and disrespectfully play football in the cemetery.
Visitors are so awed at the Staubbach falls as they enter the village, that they will unconsciously stand in the middle of the narrow road to take photos of the Falls and become a traffic hazard themselves and cause danger to drivers.
A quaint little rural village, that only has a narrow footpath on one side through the village, has a lot of congestion when tourists are not mindful to look out for their own safety.
We welcome you to Lauterbrunnen, to enjoy the beauty of nature and the many other offerings here. Now you know what it can be like for residents to share their village with the holiday makers we all like to welcome.
Photo: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos
The beauty of fall or autumn colours in Lauterbrunnen in October is truly spectacular. This forests come alive with vibrant autumn hues during this time of year.
The weather can be quite variable, with daytime temperatures typically ranging from 8°C to 15°C (46°F to 59°F). Nights can be chilly, with temperatures dropping to around 0°C to 5°C (32°F to 41°F). It's essential to pack layers and be prepared for cooler weather, especially if you plan to hike. Our laundry is an excellent place to dry clothes or store muddy boots.
As the leaves on the trees change colours, the entire valley transforms into a sea of gold, red, orange, and yellow. The contrast between the colourful trees and the rugged, snow-capped peaks of the surrounding mountains is breathtaking.
As the melting summer snow contributes to higher water flow, the waterfalls remain on full power. However, some attractions may have reduced hours or accessibility. However you can always watch the Staubbach falls from our balcony directly opposite. It waterfall plunges from a cliff with a height of approximately 297 meters (974 feet). It's one of the tallest free-falling waterfalls in Europe. It is a sight to behold as it tumbles down from the cliffside amidst the changing leaves. It appears almost like a veil of water, especially when there's a gentle breeze causing the water to disperse into fine mist or dust, the German word is "staub," which gives the waterfall its name.
Depending on the weather, the track up to the falls themselves may be closed. Staubbach Falls has also inspired poets and writers, including Johann David Wyss, who mentioned it in his novel "The Swiss Family Robinson."
There are many waterfalls in the valley, this photo is of the Spiessbach, just along from the Staubbach falls.
The hiking trails around Lauterbrunnen become even more picturesque in October. You can explore paths that wind through forests and meadows, offering stunning vistas of the valley and the surrounding mountains. Popular hikes like the one to Mürren or Wengen allow you to immerse yourself in the autumnal beauty.
The soft, diffused light of fall enhances the colours and provides excellent conditions for capturing the beauty of the landscape with your smartphone. There are fewer crowds compared to the summer months so you can enjoy the natural beauty in a more peaceful and relaxed environment.
Ever wanted to sleep high in the mountains, say 2260 meters in a cozy rustic mountain hut?
Only sleeping 8 people with a confirmed reservation, the Schradrihutte is at the south-east end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley in the nature reserve called Hinteres Lauterbrunnental.
Coordinates WGS 84: 46.49914, 7.89231 or 46°29'56.921″N 7°53'32.313″E
The wardens are not on site but wood and basic Cooking facilities with wood stove are supplied. Only 1 lamp, so bring some candles, and running water is about 30m south of the hut.
Rustic, quiet and just a beautiful walk to arrive there. From Stechelberg, in the direction of Oberhoresee via Tanzhubel and up beside the magnificent Schradribach Waterfall, you will be well rewarded with stunning views and in mountain peace.
Reservations here: https://www.aacb.ch/huetten/schmadrihuette/#OnlinereservationSchlafplaetze
“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days - three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”
― John Keats, Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne
Via ferrata is Italian for “iron road” and is part hiking, part rock climbing, and part sturdy adventurous. On a via ferrata you follow a path that consists mainly of iron rungs attached to the mountainside all the while being clipped onto a steel cable.
1.A ferrata from Murren to Gimmelwald. You can do it without a guide. About 3 hours, 2 km. For a non climber it was incredibly scary as you walk around the rock face but it is mega specular as there is 400 meters of nothing below you. It is made up of a couple of tightrope canyon crossings, a Nepalese of suspension bridge and ladders. Think of it as a high up ropes park.
There is a Hostel that sells burgers and food in Gimmelwald with the most amazing view from their deck.
2. Also from Gimmelwald, there is a "climbing garden". From the village of Gimmelwald it is a 50-minute walk to the foot of the wall.
Follow the gravel road towards Chilchbalm. After crossing the river, a path leads up to the wall on the right. At the Chilchbalm, the end of the small valley, one can see the receding glacier, it is a magical walk that many people don't know about.
3. There is also a family friendly climbing garden on the Riggli. From the Birg station (middle station of the Schilthornbahn). From Birg you follow the white signposts downhill through the Engetal and after about 40 minutes you are at the foot of the wall, a few minutes' walk below the Schilthornhütte.
4.The Rotstock Via Ferrata is a family climb right next to the famous North Face Wall of Eiger. Using a harness, stairs and metal stairs you can climb 400m of incline to the 360-degree panoramic viewpoint. You can get there from the Eigergletscher Station which is above the Kleine Scheidegg station on the train route to Jungfraujoch. It is marked with the blue and white mountain standard trail signs.
Of course there is the Eiger - need I say more :)
5. Also from Eigergletscher Station is a blue and white graded walk to the ´Guggi hut that needs some athletic climbing skills but well worth it for the views and the traverse so close to the glaciers.
6. Mönch ridge walk is also a must do....walking toward the Mönch hut ís about an hour walk from Jungfrau Joch train station but before the hut you go up the southeast ridge. The lower section of the climb will lead you to the rain gauge, and from there you will easily climb to the first snow ridge. There is snow along the way but it is not far. You can do it as a day trip when you start early.
BE the adventurer.
The life of a river is complicated. Complicated by changing weather patterns and seasons. The raging Weisse Lütchine is always underway carrying massive amounts I glacial moraine from melting glaciers and capturing the many rivers, streams and tributaries that come into this ancient Lauterbrunnen Valley.
A stroll beside the Weisse Lütchine from Stechelberg to Lauterbrunnen will give you an appreciation for how it changes in mood , speed and sound. Always a postcard, it is rarely not featured in famous Insta shot spots.
The constant river management projects of the local council can be seen at many points along the length of the Weisse Lütchine before it joins up with it’s sister from Grindelwald, the Schwarz Lütschine at their rendezvous point in Zweilütchine.
Widening the river helps to slow down this bustling river and protect the adjoining farming pastures from flooding. The valley was first and will always be, a significant agricultural region. So the farmers are most grateful and of course the canoeists who enjoy the swiftness are still never disappointed with the changes.
Your passion is extreme sports in the mountains? Then canyoning could be for you.
You are torn: dare to do it or rather go paddling instead? Only after you have had this full on experience will you know if canyoning is the right sport for you.
-Suspended in the air, attached to a rope, and that's just the beginning. A breathtaking adventure, you will discover a unique and exciting activity.
With a helmet, wetsuit and harness, you'll throw yourself down rocks, ditches, waterfalls and deep gorges. As you whiz down these natural slides and let yourself be carried away by the water, the feelings are indescribable. "Try it out" is the motto!
Experience this insane moment where the adrenaline will soar. In a safe way, of course. It was explained to you: once the fears are overcome, everything else is downhill. I mean, running downhill, down a rock face....totally exhilarating. And abseiling through a waterfall is just the best.
Only from May to October. Contact:
Outdoor Switzerland AG
3800 Matten bei Interlaken
Phone: +41 33 224 07 04
E-mail: [email protected]
Need to know
- Canyoning is only possible in the summer (May-October)
- Whether or not the tours can go ahead depends on weather conditions and water levels
- You will be provided with all the necessary equipment (neoprene suit, helmet and life jacket)
- Please bring the following with you: Swimming costume, large towel, small backpack, money for video and souvenirs
- Swimming ability: recommended but not essential
- Fitness: physically fit
- Minimum age: 12 (beginners’ tour)
- Weight: Max 125 kg
3 kilometers, 600 meters in altitude and an average gradient of 20%..
Photo from https://velosolutions.com/
The Grütsch trail in Lauterbrunnen offers advanced bikers a real challenge. The ground is constantly changing. From the dusty ground to rocks, roots and North Shore elements, everything is there.
The trail is steep and the turns are tight. Nevertheless, the track is incredibly smooth. "As the name "Grütsch" already suggests in Bern German, it is a large landslide. The big boulders in the lower part of the route were an enormous challenge for the shape crew. Since blasting was not a solution, the crew quickly built north shore constructions over the cairns.
The cable car takes bikers comfortably to the start on the Grütschalp.
When you get hungry or thirsty, you can sit on one of the terraces of the base bars on Dorfstrasse. And Vernon at Imboden Bike shop in Lauterbrunnen can fit you out with whatever bike gear you need.
www.coop.ch/en/Online-Supermarket.htmlNo car during your stay and feeling like cooking? Just shop online!
We have always found the prices at the Coop store in Lauterbrunnen to be the same as in Interlaken and also at, Murren and Wengen. Of course the range is not the same in Lauterbrunnen as it is in Interlaken.
Coop offer online shopping, you can have it delivered (free if over 200CHF) or you can pick it up in Lauterbrunnen for free.
At Camping Jungfrau, their small store offers a range of not-so-cheap grocery and fresh bread options. A lot of local items from the region: cheese, for example, beer, bread and croissants from Beck. Plus souvenirs. It is a short walk left along the Weiße Lütchine, then over the wooden Bridge.
Their restaurant called Restaurant Weidstübli is fantastic, but you need to book. +41 33 856 20 10
If you have a car, some of the most uncrowded grocery shopping and easy parking is at the Oberland Centre just 2 minutes drive from Wildersvil. Here you can park undercover and there is a Migros Store (comparable to Coop) and a cheaper Denner next door. www.oberlandshopping.ch
You can park for 2 hours free of charge (but your car number must be entered at the machine).
Also Bus line 105 stops right in front of Oberland Shopping.
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.
Where dreams begin for outdoor adventures in the inspiring Jungfrau region