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.
Where dreams begin for outdoor adventures in the inspiring Jungfrau region