After our Glecksteinhütte adventure led us to Grindelwald, we woke up the next morning well-positioned to begin the day’s trek along Stage 11 of the Via Alpina. We were planning to follow Stage 11 the entire way to Wengen, Lauterbrunnen, where we’d be staying for the next two nights during our Swiss Alps adventure.
That morning at breakfast, Beni, the owner of Hotel Lauberhorn, advised me that Stage 11 is boring and we should hike along the Eiger instead. After consulting our trusty map app, we decided we’d start off on the Via Alpina, but veer off onto the Eiger Trail. We’d rejoin the Via Alpina in Kleine Scheidegg before descending into Wengen.
It was a beautiful day in the Alps exploring the Eiger. After two days in the mountains, we’d hit our stride walking through the mountains and it was an amazing journey from the Grindelwald valley to Lauterbrunnen.
Via Alpina Stage 11
The sun was shining as we set off freshly showered from our hotel. We walked into Grindelwald, catching back up with the Via Alpina, which led us across town. The ascent began just as the buildings were becoming slightly less dense. It was fairly steep once we were beyond Grindelwald.
Beni had told me that much of the Via Alpina in Stage 11 was along paved roads. Though it would have been more idyllic to walk along a path, the scenery was still very quaint.
We gained height for views pretty quickly.
The roads twisted and turned up the mountain as we rose higher, the sun also climbing higher in the sky. Along much of Stage 11, there are trains running up and down the mountain. We were a bit slower on foot, but on foot you discover the craziest of sights, like this Wisconsin hat on the side of the trail that we had to stop and document for the Sanders!
It was hot, so we stopped at each restaurant we passed to fill up on fresh water or in one case, grab a Powerade! This was great because we didn’t have to lug around tons of water. It’s a good thing we hydrated early, because once we turned off the Via Alpina and onto the Eiger Trail, we wouldn’t pass another restaurant again for several hours.
The Eiger Trail was much more of a trail than much of what we’d walked on the Via Alpina. The switchbacks really started up during the first parts of this trail as we climbed higher and higher up to the Eiger.
Just in time for lunch, we climbed up and up to a waterfall. It was gorgeous and we sat by it watching the glacier water rush by as we ate our jerky and crisps. It was gorgeous (we couldn’t resist a selfie at this spot!).
From there, the trail leveled out a bit so the climb was more gradual. It wound along the Eiger, offering up different gorgeous views of the valley below.
As we drew closer to the Eigerschlechter, we passed over several snowy parts. These were a bit more slippery than the trail!
Some were melting away in the hot sun. It is pretty cool that so much snow remains in July.
By the time we were nearing Eigergletscher, clouds had started to roll in. There were a couple rope holds in this area, but nothing too scary. It was grey and dark as we approached, and we soon discovered that the path to the station was closed. We headed down a different way to Fallbodensee, a gorgeous lake.
From there, it was a quick walk to Kleine Scheidegg. At this point, the incredible Jungfrau had come into view through the clouds. The tallest peak in the Lauterbrunnen region, it is magnificent. When the dark clouds turned to rain, we were ready!
At Kleine Scheidegg, we stopped to sit for a bite to eat and a celebratory beverage and to rest my aching foot. Three days in my boots had caught up to my big toe! We sat outside at Bergrestaurant Kleine Scheidegg enjoying the view and protected from the intermittent showers by the umbrellas overhead.
When we were almost finished with our massive bowl of chips, the heavens opened. A downpour stranded us under the umbrella, which wasn’t so effective at keeping us dry anymore. Soon, the torrential rain turned to hail! We made a run for it into the restaurant. It was pretty crazy and we were super grateful we hadn’t gotten caught on the trail in such a storm!
At this point, sitting next to the train station with an aching foot with a descent between me and a warm, dry hotel room, I decided that it would be better for me to take the train to Wengen and save myself an hour of walking. By going first, I would head to the co-op and stock up on water and snacks for our Wengen break. At first Andrew couldn’t believe I would opt out of finishing the trail, but it was the best choice for both of us, haha!
I sat next to some lovely Brits on a nature tour on the train and learned a bit about the wildflowers in the area from them. They also confirmed that the train was the right choice, remarking that the trail into Wengen is a steady 45 degree angle that murders one’s knees. I did snap a pic of Andrew well on his way from the train on the way down.
The train ride was remarkable. Lauterbrunnen is surreal in its beauty and as we wound around closer to the valley floor, the views opened up and vast stone cliffs appeared, all under the shadow of Jungfrau. It was stunning.
Stay tuned for our Lauterbrunnen adventures next week!