We hoped the weather today would be good because we wanted to go up to Grindelwald First Cliff Walk. As I’ve mentioned before, weather in the mountains is extremely variable and it could be nice in the morning and cloud up or rain later. Fortunately, it’s a beautiful day here and this was the single thing we’d hoped to do in the way of an activity here. There are several activities up here, the Cliff Walk is free; the other activities cost. (Grindelwald First is sponsored by Tissot) , the only thing you pay for is the cable car up.
The Cliff Walk is just that. It’s a metal hanging walkway on the side of a cliff of the First mountain (7112’ elevation) with a unique single-rope hanging bridge. To get to the First Walk, you take the cable car lift from Grindelwald; the cable car from Grindelwald to First takes about 25 minutes, passing through two other mountain stations in between – Bort and Schreckfeld, though you never change cars, just directions, as the cars ascend and pass through, adding any new passengers. We bought tickets at the ticket machine in Grindelwald, at 64CHF each (round trip, I’m not walking down 3800’ of elevation).
At Schreckfeld, we’re joined by a paraglider, with his chute folded up into his carry bag (more about that later). The ride up is scenic, looking back across to the lower and upper glaciers and the Eiger on the opposite side of the valley and the many farms and barns scattered out below us. There are a number of trails that wind their way up the mountain and we noticed people on a special type of bicycle you can rent coasting down the trails. So all these bicycles (Trottbike) come down the mountain, how do they get back up? We saw several cable cars with the bicycles hung on one side going back up the mountain, and even a special cable car that only carried the bicycles.
Exiting the cable car station, we walked around the hotel/restaurant at the top to begin the Cliff Walk. At the starting point of the trail, you can either (as we do) start the Cliff Walk or venture on further on the trail to a mountain lake. The lake is a 50 minute uphill walk, so today, we’ll focus on the Cliff Walk. I can’t even imagine the engineering and construction that went into this walkway. There’s absolutely nothing below it to use as support. The walkway (video) is mostly wide enough for two people, though it narrows in some places where the cliff protrudes out.
There’s a hanging bridge (video) part way around, supported by steel ropes connected to concrete pillars embedded in the cliff. While there are no supports underneath, the steel ropes keep the walkway from swaying (much). As you walk around the cliff face, there are points in the path where you’ll have to duck a bit as the cliff face juts out into the walkway.
Throughout your walk, the mountains across the valley and to your right provide some fantastic views.
The Cliff Walk winds back around to the hotel and there’s a cantilevered platform that juts out for one of a kind views. There’s a long line of people waiting their turn to get to the end point for selfies.
It took quite a while to get to the head of the platform, but we too took selfies and panoramas.
Off to the left of the platform is the outside dining area for the restaurant (we had lunch) and down below is where they’re launching paragliders. There are literally dozens of them and we think we spot the color of the chute of the guy who came up with us. After a while, it’s like an aerial ballet (video) with so many gracefully making turns and at times, coming directly over us, waving. At times, they are clustered together, but after some time they are spread out across the valley in front of us as well as in the mountains behind us. Compared to Lauterbrunnen, I have to think it’s safer (considering you’re jumping off the side of a mountain) to sail here as the cliff walls in that valley are much more steep.
Since we weren’t going to visit any of the other attractions, we went around the Cliff Walk again; it’s only about 15 minutes. We’ve spent about four hours up here and aside from the lake, the only other thing we were interested in doing was the First Flyer, (video), but the wait is 2 hours, so not today. We stopped in at the gift shop to browse before heading back down the same way.
Allmendhubel and Grindelwald Cliff Walk were two outstanding sights on our trip.