Swiss Sunday

Last week we left our Swiss Sunday trip travelling up the Funicular to the top of of the Niesen.

The Niesen is called Switzerland’s Pyramid.

If I remember correctly I promised you some stunning mountain top views. Well here goes.

It overlooks the beautiful Lake Thun.

With one of the Worlds most imposing mountain ranges, The Alps dominating in the opposite direction. Including breathtaking views of The Eiger.

Bizarrely the literal translation of Niesen is sneeze.

It’s also a favourite visiting spot for some very brave individuals.

On top our son had a blast of a time. So many dreams. And the first snow he had been able to touch in over a year.

To Lauterbrunnen

It’s Sunday which means it’s Switzerland.

We left last week in Murren – the stunning Swiss Mountain Village. It’s time to head down into the valley and towards Lauterbrunnen. You only have three options. Train, cableway or walk it. The easy option is easy. 42 trains a day running to legendary Swiss punctuality. The walk is 5.8km and takes just under 3 hours. But it’s all downhill.

It takes you through alpine Forests with frequent stunning views of the Eiger, Moench and the Jungfrau. You cross multiple streams and are never too far away from the towering waterfalls.

Lauterbrunnen is the home to the Stabbauch Falls which is Europe’s highest free falling waterfall. A drop of 297 metres. If you like waterfalls you need to pay this place a visit. I remember being told that you can visit over 70 of them here.

Next week I think it’s time for a bit of Bond and Blofeld.

Murren

Switzerland does spectacularly beautiful mountain villages probably none more so than Murren. It sits at 5374ft above sea level with stunning views of some of the worlds finest mountains.

We ventured here a few times. The photos are taken from an Easter visit when an early heat wave cleared out the village snow. For some reason it’s the only place in Switzerland we came across a fully grown St Bernard. Now that was a big fella.

It is one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist destinations. The village has just over 400 residents so you might expect limited facilities. It has 10 hotels with 2000 hotel beds, 11 restaurants and 2 bars. It is also home to The Inferno, the worlds longest Amateur Downhill Ski Race. Unbelievably it’s about 5 times the length of an Olympic Downhill. That must be some tight buttocks at the end of that.

It’s a car free place – that’s right no double parking here. The village cannot be reached by public road. You can only get here by mountain train or cable car.

Next Sunday lets hopefully enjoy a glorious walk down from Murren to Lauterbrunnen or maybe we will head upwards towards a bit of James Bond…

Breathe

It’s Sunday so it’s time for a bit of Switzerland.

The Alps are one of the worlds greatest mountain ranges. Certainly not the tallest but they are big enough. Especially when you get close up to them.

But what they do have is a magic. A special atmosphere.

A place where it’s still possible to feel small. Humble in the face of nature.

A place where you feel a million miles from our vast urban sprawls.

Somewhere you can reconnect and just breathe.

Train journey to the Ogre

It’s Sunday and it’s Switzerland time….

Switzerland is a spectacular country which means its train journeys are often just off the scale. No need to read a book here. Just look out the window and drink the views in.

The trip from from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg is one such experience.

The train goes on further up through the Eiger Tunnel to the JungFrauJoch. Known as the Top of Europe. But that was just too expensive. One day maybe… So we got off at the stop where a short walk takes you to the base of the famous North Face of the Eiger.

On the trip up I remember looking out of the train window in awe with our son repeatedly saying

Mum can you tell me the story about the legend of the three mountains AGAIN”

The legend is that a beautiful young girl (The Jungfrau) is in danger from an evil Ogre (The Eiger). Only a brave Monk (The Mönch) can protect her. They forever stand next to each other in an eternal struggle.

Son loved this story and his mum loved telling him it. On this trip she must have retold it at least 30 times. Another smiley memory. Happy Days and my love keep telling that story.

Cragfast

Somedays you wake and the world is full of hope. Yes it’s a challenge but you stride purposely towards the light.

Whether it’s the alignment of the stars, or the moon, or the lack of sleep or the weather or the cards are stacked against you or the demons have woken ….. but for whatever reason somedays the world appears different. You are alone and operating without a safety net. It’s is dark, cold and scary. Often I liken the feeling to a Tolkien like scene. You are stood on the ramparts of Helms Deep. It is cold and the rain pours. You are besieged by an evil army of Orcs. But this time you are stood alone and Gandalf isn’t riding over the hill top to save you that day. You feel like hope has deserted you. A battle you didn’t ask for and one you cannot win this day.

In climbing the dreaded word is cragfast. Basically you are stuck. You can’t go up, down or sideways. Less polite terms also exist for this ……

My mind drifts to The Eiger. Back to 1936. Four young climbers attempt to be the first to scale the infamous North Face.

Andreas Hinterstoisser, Edi Ranier, Willy Angerer and Toni Kurz.

On the ill fated ascent Hinterstoisser opened up the mountain with an astonishing traverse now named after him. Tragically they decided to remove the ropes they had fixed in that section. A huge storm set in so they tried to retreat. They discovered that the Hinterstoisser traverse could only be completed in reverse with the aid of fixed ropes. They were suddenly out of options. A suicidal decent was attempted. Over the next few hours three climbers died. Rescuers got close to the remaining climber Toni Kurz. But they did not have enough rope to reach him so they had to retreat leaving the young climber stranded. They left to the echos of a climber pleading not to be left alone. The next morning a second rescue attempt was launched but they found the young climber close to death. He quietly said “Ich Kann nicht mehr” – I cannot go on. He died feet from rescue.

The German 2008 movie of this tragedy “North Face” is one of the bleakest movies you will ever see. I have stood at the bottom of the North Face. Your mind can’t help thinking of those brave young climbers. Too many climbers have been lost here. It’s a truly cathartic experience.

What is the point of this post. I am not sure. Maybe it’s just about saying that life can be bleak and dark. You will come across times when you become stuck – cragfast. You find times when you are on the ramparts alone. You hope that when that happens people will come to save you. But rescues sometimes fail – even heroes stumble. These are the times you have to stand alone. Those are grim times. Times we must endure. You hope to just make it through the night. The morning may bring new light or a hero. Or you may have to struggle on for another day alone. It’s a sobering thought.