Heading up to Schilthorn
Aug 13, 2015
|Thursday, August 13th.
We are heading up to Schilthorn at 2960 m. today. We hop on the train at Wilderswil, we are getting to know the routine now, and get off at Lauterbrunnen.
This is the valley’s commercial center and transportation hub. Despite the busy roads around the station, it is a charming town, sitting under sheer cliffs at the base of the valley.
The scenery is pretty much the same as yesterday but I can’t imagine ever getting tired of it. Next is a 10 minute cable car ride up to Grutschalp where we catch another train to Murren.
We then walk through this delightful mountain town to the next Gondola ride, it is uphill of course
Murren sits on a ledge, 2,000’ above the valley. The town dates from 1384, and despite overdevelopment it still retains its peacefulness. This is town is either lively or completely dead depending on the season. Holiday population; 4,000. Permanent residents; 400.
Now this Gondola ride was pretty spectacular. There were only 3 Towers from here to the next station, it felt like we were floating in the air.
Once again there was more incredible scenery above and below us. You could hear the people around us oohing and aweing.
Approaching the dock was interesting. I was standing beside the operator, who had a panel of buttons in front of him. He guided us into the dock using a remote control about the size of my remote control for my sound system-pretty tiny. Just a note, when I say “Dock”, it doesn’t mean that we are attached to anything, just stopped, we are still hanging in the air, with a slight swing as we de-board-quickly I might add.
This station and viewing deck was carved out of the top of a lonely, mountain peak. Actually there really wasn’t room for the viewing deck so they cantilevered it out over nothing. The floor was solid so the only time you realized that there was nothing under you was when you stepped down a few stairs to another viewing area and you noticed that the floor was made out of a metal grating,
AND YOU COULD SEE A LONG DROP UNDER YOU BEFORE THE MOUNTAIN APPEAR AGAIN. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I looked to my right and noticed a young man lying on a plexi-glass section taking a selfie. Really, I thought to myself, took a deep breath and walked, carefully to the railing.
The view of course was worth the moment or two of panic.
After taking in the 360 degree view we were ready for the next, leg of our journey to the top.,
We just missed the Gondola but we were first in line for the next one. There was only one and we had to wait for it to make the return trip.
We passed the time by chatting with others in line. A 40 something man seemed to be accompanying 2 older teenagers who we came to find out were from Connecticut, the man was from Interlaken and the families had been involved in a student change. The students were visiting the homes of their guests. I asked the man how he could live here and he smiled and replied, “someone has to”!!!
Finally our gondola arrived and we get a front of cabin spot. I thought I was going to lose my breakfast when we swung out over nothing save for a few scraggy mountains below us.
I was speechless!!! There were no towers on this section of the ride just one set of arching cables dipping into the valley then bringing us up to the station, perched on a rock. I never knew I could hold my breath that long. It literally felt like we were floating in the air.
Everywhere on the bald areas of the mountains we have seen wooden tripods, which serve 2 purposes we found out: They stop avalanches and shelter newly planted trees. Made of wood they’re designed to eventually rot when the tree they protect is strong enough to survive the winter snow pack.
We walked out onto the huge viewing platform, where they had frozen a section for a curling rink for a scene in “Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. This was one of the films major sets, which was filmed here in 1969 just 2 years after the station was opened.
In fact, they must be quiet proud of this fact as after 46 years they are still promoting this fact. Most of the people around us weren’t even born yet! Free WiFi was advertised and when I opened their site I saw that the server name was 007!!! Really!
We were able to walk around the building on an outdoor promenade and the view didn’t disappoint. In front of us was the spectacular panoramic view of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, lined up on the horizon.
The names of these hard to miss big three hint at local folk lore – The cowled Monch (monk-note the shape of its peak) fends off the Eiger (ogre) to protect the Jungfrau (maiden- though she hardly seems to need any help).
What a privilege and delight to have the opportunity to view this sensational natural wonder.
We just kept walking around the building looking at the jaw-dropping scenery then went inside to grab something to eat.
A window view was waiting for us and we sat on the solar powered revolving floor to enjoy the view once again but sitting down this time.
There were several “paths” down the mountain side that the adventurous soles were taking. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the right gear (!!) so we were unable to “enjoy” this adventure. (Ha).
The trip down was as exhilarating, exciting and terrifying as the trip up was.
We enjoyed walking back down the streets of Murren. In the not too distant past there were more cows in the town than people, the old abandoned barns testify to this, rather than with more visitors than residents. The over flowing window flower boxes were delightful and present on any structure that had window.
On the way down we saw para gliders psych up and take off by running down the slope, then flying about 45 minutes down the valley to distant Interlaken.
It was another trip of a lifetime within a trip of a lifetime. A truly incredible day and needless to say we were exhausted by the time we were back at our pitch.