A case for spontaneity: Hiking from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen via Bigelalp

Throughout the pandemic (exacerbated with too frequent exposure to upsetting news from the political and social sphere, and accompanied with a feeling of personal guilt of not doing enough to combat it), I often wished I could seclude myself in a remote cabin in the mountains, far away from the constant (though self-inflicted) noise of social media. Classic form of escapism, which obviously isn’t a solution - if anything, we are responsible to take on a role of proactive citizens, making the world a better place to the best of our abilities. 

However, a little temporary escape here and there doesn’t hurt. And Wengen seemed fit for that purpose - a car-free village nestled under the watchful eyes of some of the greatest peaks in the Swiss Alps, including Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Realising this could be one of the last opportunities for such an escape in 2020 with the lockdown looming, my friend and I decided (very spontaneously and last minute, my favourite mode of planning) to spend the weekend in a cosy chalet apartment in Wengen. 

One of the upsides of hiking off-season is having the mountains more or less to yourself. One of the downsides is having to embrace uncertainty - like keeping it cool (I struggled) when you are prevented from doing a hike from Kleine Scheidegg to the famous Männlichen by an unexpected path closure sign (unfortunately not noted on the website). Unpleasantly surprised, we quickly searched for other routes and decided to walk down to Wengen from Kleine Scheidegg through Bigelalp and Mettlenalp - as it turned out, a good life decision. Although the hike makes much more sense in the opposite direction (as you get better views walking towards Eiger &co, and as it's a better workout walking uphill), it was still incredibly scenic and eventful. Hearing and seeing thundering avalanches on top of Mönch and Eiger, lunching in the company of a herd of mountain goats in the distance, admiring tall waterfalls above Lauterbrunnen and flirting with Mürren 😻- a village bundled on the edge of a cliff, this was a hike to remember. 

(Click here to read about the hike I did on the first day in Wengen - the Eiger trail hike.)

HIKING FROM KLEINE SCHEIDEGG TO WENGEN VIA BIGELALP 

  • Time of the year: I hiked in the beginning of November.  
  • How to get there: Train from Lauterbrunnen via Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg (alternatively, you can take the train to Kleine Scheidegg from Grindelwald). 
  • Hike time: Around 3h of hiking time (excluding stops) 
  • Hike length & ascent: Around 12-14 km long, no elevation gain (you descend from Kleine Scheidegg at 2061m, to Wengen at 1274m).
    Alternatively, you can start the hike at Wengen instead (which I would have done, had I known that my original plan to hike to Männlichen would fail). In that case you would make around 800m elevation gain, and then you can take the train back down to Wengen from Kleine Scheidegg (or walk back if you're up for a full day hike).  
  • Hiking gear needed: The usual hiking footwear, poles optional but useful. Binoculars highly recommended!
  • Difficulty: Easy (if you decide to go from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen), medium (if you reverse the hike and go from Wengen up to Kleine Scheidegg - a good elevation gain and some steep parts). 
  • Hike directions: Looking in the direction of Eiger, start at the right hand side of Kleine Scheidegg - following the yellow signpost for Bigelalp, take the narrow (slightly muddy) path down through the pastures. Reaching a cliff with breathtaking views of Mönch and Jungfrau, turn right, following the signs until you come out of the woods onto the wonderful pasture of Bigelalp. Continue towards Mettlenalp and Wengen until you reach a gravel road - walk on the road for a few hundred meters, but then take a rocky path on the left (at the yellow signposts - follow Wengen). Passing waterfalls and streams, you'll come out of the woods at the Lauberhorn ski-cup finish line, just where the fairytale Wengen village starts. Continue for a good 20 minutes on the asphalt road until you reach the centre of the village, where you should go and treat yourself for a beer at the Waldschluecht cafe with the loveliiiest Croatian owner. 






Bigelalp

 Mürren.

Entering Wengen.

CONVERSATION

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