Club Trip to Grindelwald, Switzerland, August, 2013

Report written by Joan Caulfield.
The celebration of the Galtee Walking Club’s tenth anniversary in July 2013 was followed by a week long walking trip to Grindelwald in Switzerland in late August. Twenty two club members took a two and a half hour flight to  Zurich and promptly transferred to a coach for a two hour journey through the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. A lunch break mid way  afforded us an opportunity to sample locally produced cuisine and familiarise ourselves with Swiss francs and their purchasing power. The logistics of booking very comfortable accommodation at Chalet Alpetein in Grindelwald coupled with all aspects of the planning associated with the trip are attributable to the efficiency and thorough research of the Ryan family. The entire group are forever grateful to Pat, Breda and Gerard for their commitment to organising the annual overseas walking adventure.
The Hiking Map for the Grindelwald/ Jungfrau region is 2520T WANDERKARTE 1:25000. The Hallwag Outdoor Map 17 Grindelwald Wengen • Mürren 1:50000 is a worthwhile purchase as it has a free downloadable map for the iphone.  Switzerland is a walkers paradise, scenery is breathtaking and cycling is a must for the outdoor enthusiast. Our group incorporated all three into our hectic schedule.
Our first walk was very different from our regular walking in Ireland in that we experienced an impressive display of the power of water as we walked through the Gorge of the Aare, near Meirigen in Grindelwald.
Through the course of millennia the river has eroded a deep bed in the limestone. The entire ravine can be effortlessly hiked on foot, thanks to bridges and tunnels.
The Aare Gorge between Meiringen and Innertkirchen is nearly 200 metres deep and hardly more than a metre wide at its narrowest point. The fascinating, narrow gorge is the result of a limestone rocks, the "Kirchet", which hindered the flow of the Aare from the Grimsel region. Over the course of millenia, the water has eroded various paths - today's Aare Ravine is the most recent of those paths.
Since the end of the 19th century, the 1.4 kilometre long adventure gorge can be reached by safe bridges and tunnels.
switzerland, 2013A classical panoramic trail from Grindelwald to Schynige Platte certainly tested the stamina of our group. We traversed a spectacular trail above the tree line experiencing wonderful contrasts in colour between dazzling summits, green valleys and the Aare and LÜtschine rivers. A visit to Europes oldest mountain hostel (170 years old) on the Faulhorn and the breathtaking views of the summits around Grindelwald, make this hike unique and well worth the effort. On the trail from First to Schynige Platte we viewed two mountain lakes, the Sägistal- and Bachalp lakes. The trail is completely natural and expectantly rough. We experienced modern-day railway romance on a 7.2km journey from Schynige Platte at 1,967metres above sea level down to Wilderswil via a cogwheel railway in a historic locomotive. The stylish railway trip on the narrow-gauge track, seated on authentic  wooden bench seats took us through a stunning mountain landscape with matchless views. This fascinating 50 minute railway journey was a nuance of nostalgia offering incredibly impressive scenery, an extravaganza of Alpine flora and walking paths to suit everyone. The railway opened in 1893 and the original infrastructure tended to with much love and care in the intervening 120 years continues to function superbly today. Many connoisseurs of the Alps consider the views from Schynige Platte to be beyond compare. From the top station you have a breathtaking view of the Eiger,Monch and Junfrau
The highlight of very trip to Switzerland is without doubt an unforgettable day excursion with Europe’s highest-altitude railway up to the high Alpine wonderworld,at 3,454 metres above sea-level.The Jungfraujoch –Top of Europe is a fairy-tale world of ice and caves where our group explored restaurants,shops and even the highest-altitude post office in Europe.
The Jungfrau Eiger Walk was undertaken by some of the group on the return from Top of Europe. On this walk between Eigergletscher station and the Kleine Scheidegg one learns about the triumphs and tragedies that have taken place in the Eiger north face. Over a distance of 2.5km, wooden boards at various different posts introduce the visitor to the turbulent history of the Eiger north face. In addition, in the small chapel on Fallboden, there is a six-metre-high model of the Eiger depicting the 14 different routes up the North Face. Along the way one can also look at the old Mittellegi Hut dating from the year 1924. The Mittellegi Hut currently  exhibits historic and modern, climbing equipment. At the Fallbodensee, the names of all those who have climbed the Eiger north face are engraved in the rock. The 69 alpinists who lost their lives in the Eiger north face are also remembered.
Our cycling ventures over two days took us from the valley of Grindelwald northwest to Interlacken and on to Lake Thun with Lake Brienz lying almost immediately next to it towards the east.
Our evening ventures were as demanding as our most strenuous walks. We sampled cuisine in various restaurants and hotels around Grindelwald. No evening was complete without mingling with both locals and visitors all in pursuit of further workouts on the dance floor.
Photos of the trip by Anne O'Donnell and Aidan Dilworth can be viewed on the Club Gallery  here.

switzerland, 2013


Trip photos