One of the first things many people suggest when I ask for their “must see” parts of Switzerland is “Grindelwald”! With so many people - both city lovers and mountain explorers - telling me I had to visit this area I decided to make it a stopover on my way to my WorkAway in Gryon. On my way I stopped in Interlaken, another “ooh, you should go to…” suggestion, for an afternoon + night. Honestly, if I did it again, I’d just skip Interlaken all together. Maybe I didn’t do the right kind of exploring in the area, but it felt like just another tourist city and full of distracted tourists. [granted, I did not visit Harder Kulm or spend much time near the lake, so I may be biased]
— looking down at the sprawling city of Grindelwald from the trail just above Pfingstegg —
I arrived in Grindelwald on Thursday morning by train and since none of the nearby yellow trail signs had any words that looked even remotely similar to “Schreckhornhutte”, my destination, I headed for the tourist office for a map + advice. The lady behind the desk was great and a few minutes later I was off, headed for the Pfingstegg cable car. I could take a quick ride up for 16CHF, or I could make the trek on foot in about an hour — I’m not exactly making 16CHF/hour while roaming the country so I was in no position to give up an hour of my time + effort for that price. A hiking I would go!
— the start of my early afternoon trek, not exactly threatening…but I was paying attention to the clouds —
The trek up was actually pretty awesome. It was stupid steep with the European version of “switchbacks”…they switched back, but in a short zig zag that was only slightly less intense than hoofing it straight up the mountain side! For whatever reason I’ve gotten quite good at hiking straight up the side of the mountain — it’s not unlike the hikes I’ve taken up 14’ers in Colorado but I always whine so much more on a 14’er. Hmmm, I may have a regional attitude problem.
About 90 minutes or so into my uphill trek the weather got weird. Or maybe it was just being Grindelwald-eske weather? Either way, I got a little uncomfortable watching dark clouds form of Eiger — my Colorado hiking experience tells me afternoon storms = electricity = death. I had been told the Alps are a bit different but I was still on edge. This is what went down on the my up to Schreckhornhutte…
…approximately 37 seconds after I finished capturing the weird on my phone it thundered, loudly. Off the mountain I went. Once I got back into the town and under the protection of a roof I did my best to regroup. Looking back, my regrouping sucked and involved a lot more pouting than planning. I ended up spending the night in a hostel at the edge of Grindelwald where I drown my sorrows in knock-off-yet-ridiculously-expensive ramen and leftover hike bread.
The next day I was back with vengeance, determined to get my night in a mountain hut…possibly even if it did involve getting struck by lightning [maybe they wouldn’t charge me?!]. I left the hostel around 9am and started the long trek up to Glecksteinhutte. Still stuck in my stubborn will-not-pay-when-I-can-walk ways what could have been a 3 hour hike became a 7 hour hike — but I saw some pretty awesome stuff! And in hopes of giving all that awesome stuff the love + photo space it deserves I’m saving all the details for later!
— the view of Eiger, about half way back down the mountain after the thunder/lightening started —
As for my decision to turn back? I stand by the fact it was the right one — thunder boomed sporadically throughout the afternoon/evening and on multiple chats throughout the rest of my Interlaken/Grindelwald stay many people mentioned how uncommon electrical storms were. I’m glad my Safety Squirrel ways kicked in just enough to over power the desire to stay in a hut. Plus, the trek up to Schreckhornhutte is very technical with ladders and rope assists — not something worth attempting in stormy weather! Next time…