Epic morning in Jungfrau resorts

21st February 2010, by Chris Gill

Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau from the Schilthorn run

Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau from the Schilthorn run

As part of my exhaustive evaluation of the merits of staying in valley towns, I’m currently based in central Interlaken, in the Bernese Oberland. Yesterday, we drove to Meiringen-Hasliberg. Tomorrow, we drive to Adelboden. Today we’ve been checking out the local Jungfrau resorts

The plan had four key components: use only public transport, to see how it works in practice; ski the 2500m vertical from the top of the Schilthorn to Lauterbrunnen; renew acquaintance with the long runs above Grindelwald; and bag a late lunch at the hotel Jungfrau at Wengernalp, on the way down to Wengen.

It all went like clockwork, of course. We strolled out of the City Hotel Oberland shortly after 8am to see a postbus approaching, bound for Interlaken Ost station – so we were there well ahead of schedule for the 08:35 train for Lauterbrunnen. This gets in with just enough time to transfer to the 09:01 cable car up to Grütschalp, where the mountain railway trundles you along the high mountain shelf towards Mürren.

With the installation of a short new chair on the north side of Almendhubel, you can now avoid walking through the village to get to the remote southern end of Mürren, and the cable car for the Schilthorn, so like most people on the train we jumped off at the intermediate stop of Winteregg, to enjoy some lovely, smooth, cruisey slopes rather than a plod. We were on the snow, skiing into the Winteregg chairlift, at 09:20.

This may sound slow, but slow is the name of the game in this area, at least so far as mountain access is concerned. Once you are up the hill, the lifts are generally pretty slick.

We had two cabin-loads ahead of us in the queue for the cable car out of Mürren, so by the time we got to the Schilthorn breakfast was becoming a rather distant memory, and with lunch booked for 2pm (the Jungfrau operates an irritating two-sittings policy these days) we thought it prudent to stop for a strudel and a coffee in the famous revolving restaurant – the only one of Switzerland’s three that is really worth bothering with, because of the stunning scenery.

Then it was down the wonderful Schilthorn run. The initial slope – the only bit that is really black – was smooth but a bit hard, but lower down the snow was superb. We didn’t follow the tedious Inferno race course on the upper mountain, but made the most of the superb snow by descending to the Muttleren chair and riding that.

As always, the run was punctuated by regular photos of the astounding mountains ahead of you as you descend. The views today were fantastic – some cloud and wind developed later in the day, but in the late morning it was a blue sky day (as you can see).

More excellent cruising on Maulerhubel above Winteregg, and then we took the famously long path to Lauterbrunnen. The top half was in splendid nick, but lower down it wasn’t perfect – I’ve done a bit of damage to my precious Missions, though nothing serious.

Luckily we found a Kleine Scheidegg train about to depart, so quarter of an hour later we were up in Wengen, where we jumped off to take the Männlichen cable car to the top of the Grindelwald slopes. Three long red runs later we were on the Arven chair up to Kleine Scheidegg, whence the blue path number 36 brought us to lunch five minutes ahead of schedule. As I say, clockwork.

Lunch went on a bit ... so we didn’t do a lot thereafter apart from taking the rest of blue 36 to Wengen – the run was as good as I have known it in my half-dozen visits to Wengen. Three train rides and 50 minutes later we were back at Interlaken West station. It’s a 300m walk back to the hotel from there. Today, more than most days, it was good to get the boots off.

So not the most relaxing day imaginable, but very satisfying and different. It will seem quite strange to travel to Adelboden by car tomorrow.

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