Sunday, October 24, 2010

Up the Jungfraujoch!

I know. You're thinking you've seen more of the Lauterbrunnen Valley/Berner Oberland than you can possibly wish for right here on this Blog in the past 4 years.

But we love it so. And for us...we are treasuring each moment. We had the opportunity to share it with my Dad (Susan's Dad - out from CA for 2 weeks) for the very first time last week. Weather has been, well, somewhat crummy. For a while. Since last September perhaps. As the girls were still on October break through last Tuesday, I had high hopes that the weather would clear in order to make it worth the trip up the mountains.

The forecast for his time here has been rain, fog, possible rain/snow mix, more rain - you get the picture. Tuesday was the only day that showed half a sun on all the weather maps. So that morning, I woke early and started checking the mountain webcams. I don't know how things are in mountainous regions in the States but it is great to have access to live pic's of conditions here. I checked all the Jungfrau region webcams and Engelberg to see what the weather was up to - even in the dawn, I could see things were clear in the high elevations and related valleys - even though the Lake regions were still heavily cloud covered.

I knocked on Dad's door and told him to wake up and get dressed - we're heading up to Kleine Scheidig so he can see our favorite mountains. AND, if the weather was nice, he could decide whether he wanted to go up the Jungfraujoch - highest railway station in Europe. The girls weren't nearly as excited to be woke up on their last free day to trudge up the mountains again but, they got in the spirit - especially as there was promise of snow. They can't wait for some snow to play in. I was hoping for NO snow on the roads as my snow tires were scheduled for installation on Wednesday........

Parking in Lauterbrunnen was a breeze, the conductor had us jump on the train as we exited the ramp - "you may pay for your ticket on the train please" - OK!

Village of Wengen and entrance to the Lauterbrunnen Valley as seen from the Wengeneralp Train on it's way to Kleine Scheidig. There's definitely snow:
Dad with his big girls in front of the Eiger and Moench. As you can see, the weather was clear uptop and the decision was "let's go up, I'll never get the chance again." He was given the altitude warning - we started out at about 500 m that morning and would be reaching almost 3,600 m at the end of our trip - he might feel it. And I knew Rachel would.....
In the viewing tunnel within the Eiger - train runs up the side and into the granite block that is the Eiger and then backs around under the Moench to the Jungfrau station. Quite the feat of engineering - this railway has existed for just over 100 years!
It was a bit windy on top. The sun was shining and it wasn't too cold with exception of the wind that was driving ice pellets into our faces. Girls didn't last long and the gusts were too strong so they went inside:
Makes for beautiful pictures though:
And dad wasn't about to miss out on the views:
The wind is whipping ice off the top of the peak of the station - the Jungfrau Sphinx is barely visible on top:
When dad got back in, he had to wait for his glasses to defrost:
Rachel manages a smile for this pic but she's feeling the altitude. I watched her pretty close as even this extra 300m to the top of the Sphinx about did her in. So we started making our way back down - every little bit of descent made her feel better. Or was it the giant bowl of Bolognese that she consumed? Seriously - she feels the altitude and having had that problem as a kid, I'm very sympathetic.
Looking out toward Interlaken:
The Aletsch Glacier that runs off the back of the Berner Oberland Alps:
Glaciers off the front:
The Silberhorn peak which sits in front of the Moench and Jungfrau:
Last glimpse of the Eiger as we start turning the corner back down to Wengen:
Back into the Lauterbrunnen Valley:
It's hard to describe in word and perhaps even pictures, the majesty of these solid granite and limestone faces and mountains that start in a valley of about 800m and rise up to 4,000m - all visible. It's not a gradual slope with foothills and lower mountains that finally rise to high elevation. It just goes straight up. And Swiss engineering makes it possible for us to scale these heights - without being mountain climbers. Love it!
Hope you enjoyed the trip up the Jungfrau with us - My Dad certainly did.
Next - took him to Luzern for a brat and a beer at the Rathaus. He liked that too. :)

1 comment:

Makila said...

Breathtaking photos Susan!