Under the watchful eye of a giant: The Eiger trail

There is something about Swiss mountains - their jagged peaks, sharp-sounding names - that inspires a deep feeling of respect and awe in me. I do not have the skill nor experience to tackle their walls up front, but I do use every opportunity to get as close to them as safely possible. 

Spending the last weekend of October in Wengen presented the opportunity to hike the Eiger trail - a normally very easy and well-visited trail that passes directly under the notorious north face of Eiger. However, outside the hiking season, the trail is covered in snow, and consequently not very alluring to most people, making the hike more intimate. In the contrast of a vast white blanket against the dark grey granite, Eiger looked even more dramatic. 

After a good while of chasing balance in the narrow trail, the snowy slopes descended into a rocky path, woven with streams and a waterfall here and there. It continued through pastures until we reached the Alpiglen mountain huts, where we took the train back. I could just imagine how busy that little mountain hamlet gets in the summer, located neatly above the popular Grindelwald. But the cattle has long been gone to find refuge in the warmer valley below, and apart from a few eager hikers strolling around, the huts looked like they started their winter sleep, with closed wooden shutters and no sign of smoke coming from the chimneys.

We reached Kleine Scheidegg just as the sun was setting and the last train of the day was leaving with only a handful of passengers. The Jungfraujoch Express was standing still at the platform, glowing with warm yellow lights and bright red seats that resembled a scene from a storybook. Night fell as we got off the train in car-free Wengen, and the blue moon greeted us. The snow covered peaks silently glowed against the dark night skies, just in time for us to spend Halloween night there (a pleasant coincidence).

(Click here to read about the hike I did on the second day in Wengen - from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen via Bigelalp.)

HIKING FROM KLEINE SCHEIDEGG TO WENGEN VIA BIGELALP 

  • Time of the year: I hiked at the end of October.  
  • How to get there: Train from Lauterbrunnen via Wengen and Kleine Scheidegg to Eigergletscher (alternatively, you can take the train via Kleine Scheidegg from Grindelwald). 
  • Hike time: Around 3h of hiking time (excluding stops) 
  • Hike length & ascent: Around 9 km long, max 200m elevation gain (with the deviation at the end of October 2020 as the usual trail was closed for maintenance - check here for updates).
  • Hiking gear needed: Good hiking footwear, hiking poles, winter clothing (water-resistant hiking pants - it was very warm when we hiked, but can get cold and windy very fast, so good to have a pair in your backpack). 
  • Difficulty: Medium (it's an easy hike in the summer, but trickier in the snow). 
  • Hike directions: Starting at the train stop at Eigergletscher, walk down the stairs following the signs for the deviation (the usual trail would take you in the opposite direction from the train station, but end of October it was closed due to maintenance), then follow the path - relying on yellow arrows and white and red marks on the rocks when you're unsure. Once the trail starts meandering down, you'll soon see the Alpiglen huts in the distance.   

(Wearing The North Face in front of the Eiger north face was my best unintended pun.)




As edited as the photo looks, it isn't - the clouds were truly surreal.


Sleepy huts in Alpiglen.


Hop onto Hogwarts Express!

Wengen, just before moonrise.

CONVERSATION

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