The Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch - A View of 'The Top of Europe'

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Saturday 13 September 2014

The Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch - A View of 'The Top of Europe'

We didn't want to leave the Lauterbrunnen Valley without getting a better look at this trio of peaks, the Jungfrau (4158m), Eiger (3970m) and the Monch (4107m) which are possibly one of the most famous collections in the Alps. Connected by a high alpine ridge, the Jungfrau, which it is possible to visit at the 3500m Jungfrauhoch ('Top of Europe') makes some incredible alpine panoramas accessible to anyone able to pay the train fare whilst the tragedies of climbers trying and dying to scale the north wall of the Eiger has its own grim fascination.

For ourselves, as keen hikers, we were less willing to part with more than £100 each to visit the ever expanding shopping centre that is the Jungfrauhoch and so planned instead to take a trip up the opposite (west) side of the valley to look across at the peaks instead. However, after seeing clouds building quickly that morning and threatening to block the view across the valley we did decide to get a little head start on our way by taking a short cable car ride from our base at Stechelberg up to the cable car station at Murren (1645m).

Setting off from Murren in the late morning sunshine we took a relatively short stroll up a forested climb of approximately 300m to reach the viewpoint at Allmendhubel, stopping en route for a quick play on a deserted park, with possibly the best view from a set of swings I have ever seen. Arriving just in time, we emerged from the trees to be treated to a spectacular view of the famous peaks, their snowfields and glaciers glistening in the bright sunshine. Framed by a currently cloudless sky the panorama was spectacular, stretching right from Interlaken away to our left right into the heart of the Lauterbrunnen valley that we had hiked into just 2 days before, with the Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch at the centre directly across from us.

As other visitors came and went, some stopping to eat lunch but most snapping a few pictures and continuing on, we stayed put. As the clouds built and rolled in, intermittently hiding one or all of the peaks before moving further up the valley we tried to let this magnificent view fix in our minds whilst sitting in awe of the scale of the scene. It is one of the best views we have enjoyed so far and despite the numbers of people passing by we felt very peaceful with our thoughts.

As the afternoon started to wear on and the peaks were almost completely hidden once more we decided it was time to get moving and so began the 1000m descent back to our campsite. Heading back through the forest to Murren and then traversing the open valley side to Gimmelwald before a steep, slippy descent through a ravine to Stechelberg we could feel the tiredness in our legs of all of the epic hiking we had done in the previous 2 weeks.

Planning to move on the next day we reflected that evening on our time in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Although the area was a little busier and commercial than others we had visited, thanks to the accessibility from Interlaken and the numerous buses, trains and cable cars (but which are very expensive), we had been lucky to find a very peaceful base in Stechelberg at the end of the road and our walk to the Schmadri Hut had shown that it is still possible to escape the crowds and we felt happy to have visited.  

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