A steep road home

Posted from Holzhäusern, Canton of Zug, Switzerland.

So as I look at the cable car full of tourists coming up I start thinking maybe I should hike down.  There was a sign saying Gimmelwald 4 hours 30 minutes.  It was early, I had the time.

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I start down the path (I think some Asian tourists took my picture).  Here is the first sign that I see.

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Okay, they are warning about high heels, how terrible could this trail down be.  I look at my feet, not wearing high heels, I’ll be fine. Looking back up I could see the restaurant, rotating around serving a delicious breakfast, not too late to go back.

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I look down I can see the trail for a ways but it seems to disappear into a bit of snow.

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I look up, the restaurant seems far away.  I don’t really like walking up hill at nearly 10,000 feet (I think I see tourist taking more pictures of me).

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I go a bit further.  The trail is gone, the snow is there.  I take a few steps.  Oops, this isn’t snow it’s ice.  But hey, there is a rope to hold onto. I very slowly continue.  It is most treacherous.  I pull out my gloves, not heavy duty rock climbing gloves but nice leather driving gloves.  I grab hold of the rope, I turn around backward and slowly let myself down the icy path.  I try not to think what would happen if I slipped and started to slide.  Yes best not to think about that.

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After a 20 minute decent I look back up.  Maybe this wasn’t some of my best thinking.

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Finally I make it to the bottom of the snow field.  I’m glad I wasn’t wearing high heels.  I think I might have a few suggestions for the sign maker at the top of the mountain.  I am much relieved.  500 feet decent so far, 4500 feet to go!!

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I look up and see the cable car gliding across the sky, I think I can see tourists taking my picture.

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I go a bit further and come to this monument to poor Alice Charlotte.  She didn’t make it to the bottom, she was probably wearing high heels.  Maybe they should place this monument at the top of the mountain to help people make good decisions.

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But I look around and the views are spectacular.

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The path is very steep and rocky.  It goes around a glacial lake with great reflections.

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There is just no end to the views.

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The path  continues down across the barren mountain.

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Occasionally crossing a rock slide area.

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Ahead I can see the path as it gets to a ridge and follows along the ridge.

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Here the path is easy and not too steep.

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But alas the ridge gets skinnier and skinnier.  The drop offs on each side are quiet steep.

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Finally I get to the end of the ridge.  There is a side path climbing up to the top with an inviting bench for a rest.

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From here there is a view down to the sleepy village of Gimmelwald, my home.  This is the point that I can see from my front door.  It is high high up and I wanted very much to get to it.  Mission accomplished.

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I sit and enjoy the alps.

I continue on my way.  5.5 hours later and 5000 feet lower I reach home.  I turn around and can see the point of land with the bench (it’s called Bryndli).  An amazing, terrifying, exciting trail.  My legs will hurt for days to come from the amazingly steep decent.  But worth every bit of pain.

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Breakfast on top of the world

Posted from Holzhäusern, Canton of Zug, Switzerland.

When I first arrived in Gimmelwald Andreas spent time telling me about hikes, places to visit etc.  He mentioned that everyone should have breakfast at the Schilthorn at least once.  In this part of Switzerland there are two huge tourist attractions.  Once is the Jungfraujock where you take a train high up into the alps.  Carolyn, Emily and I did it last year.  The other is the Schilthorn.  High above Murren with great views of the Jungfrau area.  Bother are frequented by large numbers of tour buses primarily with Asian tourists.  I had decided that I would pass on doing the Schilthorn since I figured it was similar to the Jungfraujock that I had already seen.  However, since all of Andreas recommendations have been so good I figured maybe I should give it a try.  I researched and found out that if you go early (first cable car is 7:30) then there is a discount and the breakfast is free.  Finally on Friday I decided it was time to give it a try.  The weather was suppose to be pretty nice.  I got up and headed out the door at 7:15 to catch the 7:30 cable car up.  The sun was just starting to show on the high mountains.

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I started in Gimmelwald, elevation 4485 ft.  I caught the 7:25 cable car up to Murren, elevation 5374 ft.  I thought I would be joined by throngs of Asian tourists.  To my surprise there were just a few people on the cable car, mostly locals on their way to work.  I switched to the cable car up to Birg the midpoint on the way to the top.  The crowd was down to 4.  Me, the cable car operator and a German couple.  We head up to Birg, elevation 8783 ft.  This photo is looking up at Birg from Murren.

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At Birg the crowd of 3 switched to another cable car for the ride across and up to the Schilthorn, elevation 9744 ft.  In a matter of 15 minutes I’d gone up 5259 ft.

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I arrived at the Schilthorn at 8:00.  It was quiet and beautiful.

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I made my way up to the empty restaurant.  A place set up for 300 but there were only 3 of us.  It was a buffet breakfast, coffee, juice, cheese, meats, smoked salmon, bread, cereal, eggs, sausage, bacon.  Very nice.  The waiter came and asked if I want a glass of prosecco, what could I say…. Of course.

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Unfortunately in my excitement to be there I didn’t take any pictures of the restaurant.  However, at 8:15 the place started to spin.  Not from the prosecco,  literally it started to spin.  The restaurant rotates  360 degrees every 60 minutes.  And the views are unbelievable in every single degree. Here is a time lapse of the 90 minutes I was there.

The Schilthorn was a big part of the 1969 James Bond 007 movie In Her Majesty’s Service.  There entire place is designed around showcasing the movie.  Including cutouts of the actors.

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The views were terrific.

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Here I am with the restaurant in the background.

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Looking back across at Birg, the station on the way up.

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As I finished up enjoying the view and feeling very full from a 90 minute breakfast I watched as the cable car arrived filled with the tourists I had expected earlier.

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But as I prepared to leave I thought to myself, what would James Bond do, take the easy cable car route down or something a bit more exciting?