Visiting the top of Europe, Jungfrau

For this Tuesday post we’re looking back at our trip two weeks ago today. We’re doing this to catch up, but also to make up for the brief break I took from the site. So, sit back, enjoy the many photos (and the charming little video!) that tells the tale of this recent, amazing, adventure …

We set out on a tour for The Jungfrau, one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps. It’s part of a massive wall of mountains, and a distinctive sight in the Alps. First summited in 1811, it was not until 1865 that a direct route up the northern side of the mountain was opened.

We’re going up there.

The construction of the Jungfrau Railway, in the early 20th century, made the area one of the most-visited places in the Alps. It is now part of an area designated a World Heritage Site in 2001.

Here’s a better look from the town below.

We took the hardest route of all: the bus route, which led us to a ski lift, and also that train mentioned above.

Oh, and they call this …

The proper summit is 13,642 feet. We stopped just short of that, which is probably for the best. I fell just before taking this photo, which was in a gift shop.

And here’s my lovely bride, realizing she’s stuck with a faller.

But can we go outside for a moment? Remember those lovely exterior shots at the beginning of the post? The ones with the beautiful mountain behind us? If you turned around the other direction, you saw this. Think about those views.

So we’re on the move here, let’s look at some other mountains, or hills, or Alpine speed bumps.

It wasn’t just me, struck by the novelty of the locale features, which is reassuring.

Here we are on the ski lift going up on the next step of the journey.

We’re just flying over these houses, and so you don’t know anything, but that doesn’t seem like a bad lifestyle from above, does it?

Putting aside the pastoral living, we’re really here for the mountains.

You’ll have to forgive me, but I don’t see mountains every day, so I really played up the tourist bit.

And, yes, we’re going well above the tree line, and into the snow.

Here we are, on foot, approaching the tourism summit of Jungfrau. For a few moments while we were standing there we were experiencing a white out. (Somehow those are more fun on the last day of May? Again, the novelty of tourism …)

I’m not sure if she was prepared for snow.

But pretty much the entire time we were on the mountain, we enjoyed the snow. Farther down, on that ski lift, it was just rain. In the valley where we started this post, it was sunny and a mild spring day, all day.

This other prominent point of the mountain in the background isn’t far away, but in the clouds and fog and snow, it seems only barely there. Doesn’t help that there are actual snowflakes in our eyes.

This is one of the two observation points that were available to us near the top. Lots of people. Lots of photographs. A lot of people doing video chats with people back home. No one, but us, doing this.

(They were all impressed by us.)

At the other observation point, we claim this mountain for Switzerland! (Our presence, like the flag, was a big plus.)

Let’s go inside the mountain.

They call this part the Alpine Experience, and this giant snow globe is going to grow on you.

Had it not been for other people interested in seeing the thing I would have stood there until I shot every moving part. But sometimes tourists get in the way of a full, proper, tourist experience.

We walked down an ice tunnel.

Everything here is ice, except the lights and the handrail. Very James Bond.

I don’t know about you, but I seldom get to walk around in ice tunnels, so this was fun. Also, the acoustics were great. You’ll have to take my word for it.

There are several ice carvings through the area. Here’s just one.

The romantic story is that it was the nuns of the Interlaken convent (the town we started in at the beginning) who gave the mountain its name. They owned a lot of the pasture land at the foot of the glacier and the mountains. The rock faces seemed inaccessible and the nuns thought it jungfraulich, untouched and virginal. The signs say that’s not actually the case. The real story just sounds like a more natural evolution of language.

Welcome to the highest-altitude karst cave in Europe, at 11,423 feet.

The unsorted sediments seem to have arrived here by glacial displacement, or water. Dating has been a problem for scientists, but the research suggests we’re looking at mid-Pleistocene age accumulation. So we’re talking after the earliest documented human clothes, but earlier than human mastery of fire. This cave is inactive today, because the permafrost restricts cave-forming processes.

But if you’re not here for geology, you must be here for the chocolate!

That wasn’t the point of the day, but a nice benefit. We didn’t buy this bag; we just ate it right there in front of the cash register.

we actually enjoyed a perfectly healthy cucumber sandwich in the self-serve cafeteria, looking out to the mountain.

Also, if you go up this high, you will feel it. Drink a lot of water, our guide said. You’ll thank me, he said. Altitude headaches are real, he said.

He was right about that last one, at the very least. We’re at 2.25 miles above sea level there. In Zurich our hotel is at 1,330 feet. Our house is just over half that high. We were up there. It was great!

And Jungfrau is just one part of our amazing Switzerland adventures. Come back tomorrow. There’s going to be something that’s, perhaps, even more impressive!

Comments are closed.