Hiking from Grindelwald First to Faulhorn
The plan for our first trip to Grindelwald was obvious. First of all: see the famous Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger peaks and… second: walk under the famous north face of the latter – walk the Eiger Trail. In short, the roof of the Bernese Oberland in a nutshell. To appreciate the beauty of this area, however, we need to take a step back. Or rather, several thousand steps, so that you can look at the mountain peaks from a proper distance. The goal of our next trip to this corner of Switzerland is First, a place exactly on the opposite side of the valley. So let’s start one of the best hikes in Switzerland: First to Faulhorn.
Two years ago we organized a budget weekend getaway to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen. And these places seem to have finally convinced us to Switzerland. Massive peaks, glaciers seen up close, small towns and houses scattered over the green slopes. And, of course, cows grazing everywhere, lazily chewing alpine grass. An alpine idyll.
Steered by memories to the familiar surroundings, we want to check if they still make the same impression on us. Spoiler alert… yes, they do!
The Eiger Trail from Kleine Scheidegg, the Gletscherschlucht gorge and the Lauterbrunnen valley are near by, also worth visiting!
From First to Faulhorn
We drop our heavy backpacks at the Berggasthaus First, a mountain hotel that will be our accommodation and catering base. We get to the top by a gondola lift to save time and strength for further trip. Our goal today is Faulhorn, 2,681 m a.s.l. It will not be a hard trip, but rather a mountain walk with nice views and a camera, because we have about 10km to go and only 500 m of elevation.
It is 12:30 p.m. and the Berggasthaus itself is filled with tourists in need of food, beer and views. No wonder, because the restaurant serves good meals, and the sunny terrace provides nice company of four-thousanders. However, we don’t think about food right now, we will get back here in the evening. Shoes laced up, a flask filled with water, camera lens cleaned, hats on – let’s go!
Cliff Walk footbridge against the walls of Watterhorn and Shreckhorn
The trail towards Bachalpsee is a walking path which you can easily take with the kids. What’s more: even a wheelchair with larger wheels will get by, not to mention pensioners and sneaker-clad Asians. The first two kilometers do not require any effort or concentration, so just keep enjoying the views. Especially since you instantly get a first rate panorama.
In the foreground there’s the Milibach waterfall, Grindelwald nests in the valley, of course, and above there are Watterhorn, Shreckhorn and Eiger, sprinkled with the first snow.
Bachalpsee is a small lake with a dam that we pass along the northern shore. It is a real treat for photographers who can capture the mirror reflection of the mountains in the water on a windless and cloudless day. With a small booth on the shore, the landscape looks truly brilliant! Today, however, it blows a bit, so we settle for three fast shots and don’t waste time looking for frames right on the shore.
This is where the proper climb begins, because the trail changes radically from the lake. There are stones, the path is narrower and you need to raise your knees higher. Getting to the Gassenboden saddle is 2/3 of the way. You can already see the purpose of our trip: Faulhorn. Walking the last stretch takes us 10 minutes.
Berggasthaus is already closed and the only thing available is a modest “self service”. But the views are a real bargain! It seems that the panorama emerging from this summit is that of the entire Bernese Oberland and the neighboring cantons! From Lake Thun and Lake Brienz with an almost unnatural turquoise color, through Pilatus, Stansenhorn, Rigi to Eiger, Jungfrau and Schilthorn. A delight for the eyes!
Views from Faulhorn
The moments of joy end quickly, because the clouds take on darker colors. Just two hours ago, a short sleeve was just the right choice, now we are putting on additional two layers of clothes. It was worth carrying soft-shells stuffed in the backpack.
When we return to the hotel, there is no trace of the crowds any more. Just a few people by the lake and nobody on the trail. We are extremely happy about this turn of events, because the main attraction of First is just for us!
First Cliff Walk
A forty-five-meter bridge hangs over the valley like an Olympic trampoline. Supported by several metal poles and slightly resonating under the steps of a single person, it gives you slight shivers. Especially when you lean out and look down. Cliff Walk is a few hundred meters of a metal footbridge attached to a vertical wall of the slope. The openwork and seemingly delicate construction attracts crowds of tourists every day. Some march through it whistling briskly, others clench (almost on the railing) their teeth slowly moving their shaking legs.
You start at the restaurant, end on the panorama terrace, where the accelerated heart rate can be calmed with cool beer. Everything planned and made with Swiss precision. So, shall we go again, this time the other way?!
Walk on the footbridge
Evening and morning
A photo of Alpine peaks from First
At the top, unfortunately, it’s hard to find any first plan pleasing to the eye. The gondola ropes and lift poles interfere with the composition. From First you see the northern walls, which means that during the day it is difficult to bring out details from the shadows. Evenings and mornings seem better, but not at this time of year. The best time to photograph this place seems to be mid-June, when the sun rises and sets a bit further, and the rays illuminate these walls at dawn and dusk.
A better place to take photos is the edge 300m towards Bachalpsee, where it is easier to get to the first plan and leading lines. In case of light it’s a little worse.
Nevertheless, with a bit of luck you can capture some magical moments created by the changing aura. It just so happened that I took some of this happiness for my matrix!
Berggasthaus First is a mountain hotel located right at the top of the cable car station. Besieged by a crowd of tourists by day, its character is completely transformed after dark. An intimate restaurant serving delicious meals, service treating each guest individually and silence of the mountains. Although the hotel aims at larger groups and families, we managed to book a pretty nice room for two. Of course, with a view over the mountains! Hotel link at Booking.com. It gets booked quickly, so don’t wait!
Asia insisted that we should ride down to Grindelwald. She accepts no arguments, whether rational or not… we’re riding down, end of story! Well, what can I do… We’re riding down. I stuck my backpack in front of me, the poles sticking out from the side, a hard saddle hurts my bottom and the first 40m we must push with our feet because there is no drop. But as you take on speed, you smile broadly (not too broadly, though, because of the flies!). Oh, what a simple fun: a three-wheeled “mountain cart”, which drastically and brutally takes sharp turns and provides absolutely no cushioning. You can go crazy!
Grindelwald itself is swamped with Asians big time. You can clearly see it in the language of the pub signs pubs and the cries of the guides. It is neither quiet nor calm and the alpine climate is saved only by the shadow of Eiger, which bravely resists expanding commercialism. Simply, a Swiss version of Krupówki. You just can’t take a photo with a “bear” yet.
We’re off, then. It’s better to go somewhere higher! We end our weekend with a trip to Klein Sheidegg, because Jungfraujoch has been covered in thick clouds again. On the third trip to Grindelwald we will definitely go there!
Eiger i Jungfrau z Kleine Scheidegg