Over the next 2 days we cycled to the top of both of these passes, each time descending back to Oberwald to start the climb. For the Furka Pass, which tops out at 2429 metres, the climb from Oberwald was 16.5 km long at an average of 6.4%, an ascent of 1063 metres. It’s a tough climb but very beautiful. On our way down we stopped off close to the Belvedere Hotel and hiked out to a viewpoint over the Rhone Glacier, which is enormous and visually stunning. As the name suggests, this glacier is also the source of the Rhone river which runs through Europe all the way to Mediterranean Sea.
The Grimsel Pass climb from Oberwald is slightly shorter at 12.1 km and an average of 6.6%, topping out at 2165 metres. The final half of the climb involves seven tight and long hairpins which zig-zag up the almost sheer mountainside which is as scenically impressive as it is challenging.
Finally, on the day we left Grimsel Pass and headed north, we stopped and cycled back up to the top from the other side. Technically, starting at the very bottom in Innertkirchen, the entire climb is 26 km long with an average gradient of 5.9% (a climb of 1560 metres), which is a bit of a beast. Since we had run out of both food and gas and had a long drive ahead of us to the nearest LPG filling station, we decided to ‘only’ do the final 17 km, starting in Guttanen. From here to the top it was an average of 6.5%
Although there are quite a few tunnels on the road, most are short and the longest one we went through was avoidable via the old, open air road which is signposted for cyclists and pedestrians. The route was beautiful and, if I had to choose, was my favourite side of the two. Even though the climb up from Oberwald/Gletsch had involved those impressive switchbacks, this sweeping, winding route down the glacier carved valley was something else. Close to the top, passing the various dams which are constructed in the valley, and looking up at the peaks and crags was awe-inspiring.
Which brought us to the end of our busy time at Grimsel Pass. All that was left was to drive to Interlaken, fill up with food and gas, stop at a camping to recharge our motorhome facilities and then head back into the mountains.