European Road Trip 2012
For some time I have been reading many books on the subject of the Eiger. Having rock climbed in my younger years in the UK, I have always been fascinated by the landscape and especially the people who have scaled these heights and put life and limb on the line to conquer these peaks. The main literary anal that gripped me the most was the White Spider by Heinrich Harrer. This amazing tale of the many attempts to top out the Eiger, the tragic deaths and the final accomplishment by Harrer and his companions to climb the north face of this forbidding mountain.
So, I was gripped and had to see the Eiger for myself. Every year my business partner and I, visit the Outdoor Show, Friedrichshaven. This was a good opportunity to drive through France, into Switzerland, camp at Grindlewald, spend a few days gawping at the Eiger, then onto the show.
We set off one early Sunday morning, the car packed with all our gear and drove down to Folkestone to catch the Chunnell to Calais. This was a trouble free trip as we hit the motorways of northern France onto Nancy where we camped for the night. The roads in France are only dual carriageway, but are virtually car free with the driving easy and being a pleasure.
The next day we woke early, broke camp and drove into Switzerland at Basel. Here we hit the more mountainous regions of the Swiss Alps which was awe inspiring. Passing the turquoise blue Lake Thun we hung a right at Interlaken, then a left at Zweilutschinen to Grindelwald.
We camped at Eigernordwand site at the base of the Eiger, with the more impressive mountains of Schreckhorn and Wetterhorn to the East.
The Schreckhorn from camp
The Eiger from camp
We planned to take the train up to Kleine Scheidegg to take a better look at the Eiger the next day. With a price of £150 per person return, we thought this was very expensive, and decided to stretch our legs after a long drive. The next day we set off from camp and took the well marked route up to Brandegg, walking through some fantastic scenery of mountains and forest.
Idyllic Swiss mountain scene.
In Switzerland there is a huge wood culture, with a lot of modern houses still made of timber from the forest.
Tony showing the scale of many firewood piles we came across
Then we moved onto Alpiglen. This lovely mountain village was now out of the tree line. We stopped for a break and studied the map. We worked out that the altitude we was started 3000 feet at our camp, and we were going to walk the height of Ben Nevis on top of that, so a final elevation of just under 7000 feet. I must admit I was feeling a little tired after leaving Alpiglen due to the altitude, but pushed on.
We eventually reached Klein Scheidegg after four hours of walking. This area was really touristy, but we hung around and had pancakes and coffee at a locals cafe.
Tony getting stuck in
The scenery was outstanding as we sat and gawped. We could see the forbidding cloud cloaked Eiger that looked like it was smouldering like a dormant volcano, and the really impressive Jungfrau.
Jungfrau from Kleine Scheidegg
After a while I was feeling better and we legged it back down the valley to camp. The view down the valley was awesome.
View down the valley to Grindelwald
To round up the brief trip to the Swiss Alps is quite easy, AWESOME. Will be back soon.