Most climbers aren’t in fact deranged, they’re just infected with a particularly virulent strain of the Human Condition.
– Jon Krakauer (Eiger Dreams)
Start here for Part 1 of my Hiker’s Paradise in Switzerland’s Jungfrau region.
Fresh from my discovery of Lauterbrunnen and Gimmelwald just the day before, I set out to explore Switzerland’s famed mountain resort of Grindelwald. Located at the foot of the north face of Eiger, the village appeals not only to the mountaineering elite, but remains a drawcard for tourists, whom are attracted by its emerald-green alpine pastures and lakes, as well as its proximity to a myriad of hiking trails and mountain lookouts.
Whilst lacking an element of dramatic mystique often associated with Lauterbrunnen, the village of Grindelwald offers an idyllic ambience with colourful Swiss wooden chalets adorning the landscape.
Ten minutes from Grindelwald station, the Grindelwald First cable car beckoned in the horizon. I have heard much about the dizzying heights of the Grindelwald First Cliff Walk, a suspended footbridge hugging the Grindelwald First summit. It is this I have come for. The cable car ride ascends over 1,000m in under half an hour and serves up picture-perfect vistas of Swiss alpine life set amongst rocky slopes and snow-capped peaks.
Howling winds greeted me at the summit, doing their best to unravel my already tattered nerves. After a number of false starts and what seemed to be an interminable hour, I put one foot gingerly in front of the other on the death-defying walkway towards Eiger’s North Face.
The placid Lake Thun offered welcoming relief after an adrenalin-infused day. The city of Thun, located at the lower end of Lake Thun and 30 minutes from Interlaken, is widely considered the gateway to the Bernese Oberland. With its distinct wooden bridges and cobbled streets, Thun’s historic Old Town is reminiscent of the Swiss city of Lucerne and boasts a 12th century castle as the city’s proud landmark.
A cruise on Lake Thun would be one of the most tranquil ways to cap the day. For the die-hards amongst us, the hour-long walk along the shores of Lake Thun is highly memorable and culminates in the Oberhofen Castle, renowned for its medieval keep and distinctive lakeside turrets.