What is hiking? If you just think of it literally, it is an activity of pleasure walking usually for the sake of scenery. To a hiker though, every hike is a pilgrimage (just like every beer experience is for me also). It is a mathematic enigma because a hike is never the sum of its individual parts. A hiker doesn’t need the Swiss Alps to feel its sense of power. It is all the intangible things about hiking that draw hikers to the trails. The freedom, the escape from the man-made world, the release of the stresses that have been building up, and the connection with something greater than ourselves are just some of the ways hiking impacts the hiker. Hiking is one activity that you can do alone or with other people, but either way it will always be an introspective activity. Your mind has to do something while hiking. Hiking doesn’t require the minds attention and this leaves it free to explore one’s own soul. This leaves the mind open not just to see scenery but to process it in a way that is many times more enriching. When I am on the trails, I am thinking about how fortunate I am, I am thinking of the ones that I love, I am contemplating how to be a better me, I am being thankful for whatever has led me to this moment in my life.
This past August I had a short hiking holiday in the Swiss Alps which started with the Eiger Trail. Sadly, my favorite hiking partner in the world, my daughter, was not with me on this trip, and I happened to be going thru a particularly difficult time in my life. What one needs in times like this is serendipity. Something unplanned and spontaneous that reminds you that you are alive, that reminds you that good things can happen naturally. They don’t have to be forced. It was during my planned Eiger Trail hike, that I came upon this view of the Grindelwald gletscherschlucht. Every hiker knows that feeling of awe and wonder when they see something in the distance that makes you go “What’s over there?” The imagination runs wild with the potential of discovering hidden beauty, something that the gobs of tourists back in Grindelwald or Wengen probably won’t make the effort to see. When I looked for a way back thru this glacial valley on my tourist trail map, I knew right away what was going to be my hike on Day 2.
I have highlighted the hike on the tourist map using the map’s color scheme. The black line marks the Pfingstegg cable car which is where this hike begins and ends. The red line marks the route to the Bäregg hut which is the easier part of the route. The blue line marks the route after Bäregg which is intended for more experienced hikers. The trail leads to the Schreckhornhütte which is one of several huts all over the Swiss Alps which provide shelter for serious hikers and mountaineers.
Komoot is my favorite app for hiking and I highly recommend using it on your smartphone while you are hiking. It contains topographical maps and all of these trails that I discuss are already in the app. The final route that I recorded looks like this. The dashed line going off to the left of view is part of the Eiger Trail. Right around the 1400 elevation marker is where the inspiring photo was taken.
What You Need To Know
- Starting Point: Pfingsteggbahn
- Ending Point: Pfingsteggbahn
- Distance: 12.9km
- My Time: 3:50
- Eating Place: Bäregg Hut
As far as the Pfingsteggbahn, it is easy to get to from the Grindelwald train station if you are not coming by car. Just take either Bus 121 or 123. You can always check Grindelwald bus timetable for updates. Here is the Pfingsteggbahn 2017 timetable. (Note: if any of these links go bad, please contact me.)
From the Pfingsteggbahn, follow the signs for Schreckhornhütte and Bäregg. The trail to Bäregg is actually the steepest part of the entire hike. When you reach Bäregg, signs will caution you about the increase in difficulty of the trail after that point. Check the weather forecast. The trail is more rugged in some places and requires good footing. I will give the same advice as I gave in my Eiger Trail post. Wear good sturdy hiking shoes and take enough food and liquids. As you can see in the elevation profile, it is a lot of uphill on the way there so know your fitness limits. Don’t be afraid to push yourself though. The scenery is quite worth it.
The Schreckhornhütte itself is at the end of the trail. However, it may not be easy for anyone afraid of heights to make it the last 200m. As far as I could see, it requires climbing up a ladder which is anchored into the rocky cliff face and also using some cable further up for guidance. I couldn’t see beyond that, but this was enough to trigger my ridiculous fear of heights. My apologies to anyone reading this, but this was the end of the line for me. It was also the end of the valley, so regardless, the views were absolutely breathtaking. Click on the link above if you want to see what the hut looks like.
Without further ado, let’s take a photographic journey of this hike. Follow the signs.
Morning Arrival to Pfingsteggbahn
Pfingsteggbahn to Bäregg
Bäregg to Schreckhornhütte
End of the Trail (for me)
Now it just a matter of heading back the way you came.
This is itsabrewtifulworld so there has to be a few nice beer pictures. I carried along with me an Oberland Amber for several photo opportunities. It is brewed by Interlaken’s own Rugenbräu.
Back at the Pfingsteggbahn, I found this local craft beer, Chopfab Summer, brewed by Doppelleu Brauwerkstatt in Winterthur.
If you really want to feel alone in the Alps, this is the hike to do. Yes you will pass a few people but as you can see in the above video, I was alone at the end of the valley. The scenery in this valley was worth seeing in both directions. It was stark and dramatic. The only sounds to be heard were the wind, the mountain streams, and the occasional far-off avalanche. This is one I will do again in a heartbeat when I have my hiking partner with me, and maybe she will also give me the encouragement I need to climb to the Schreckhornhütte. I always like to leave something new to do the next time. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.