Tourism provides 90% of the income for this village of 4000 inhabitants.
While the Swiss Alps were already visited by many holiday-makers in the summer, Grindelwald was the first place to attract also winter vacationers. At the beginning, in 1888, they enjoyed ice-skating, curling and sleigh riding. In 1891 they started skiing as well, and a few years later they discovered ice-hockey and bobsleigh. There were 10 hotels in Grindelwald in 1889: they became 33 by 1914.
Not bad at all for a village that until 1860 did not even have a proper road! The railway that reaches Grindelwald from Interlaken was built in 1890, and the cogwheel railway from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg was inaugurated in 1893. The railway, partly inside the Eiger, from Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch was completed in 1912.
The 3970-mteres-high Eiger is certainly the most impressive view one enjoys from Grindelwald. Provided, of course, that the mountain does not hide itself behind thick clouds, as it happens very often. From Grindelwald the view you get is that of the (in)famous Northern Face, where more than 20 climbers, over several decades, met their death while trying to reach the top.
The top of the Eiger had been reached in 1858 by climbing its western side. However, the impressive Nothern Face, a vertical wall of about 1800 metres, seemed to challenge many mountaineers. The fact that in the 1930s several attempts were made and failed, sometimes causing the death of the climbers, contributed to give this mountain an almost mythical aura. The first successful climb of the North Face was in 1938, and other ones followed, but also the death toll continued, because this is really a hard and risky climb, especially because of the weather conditions.
The 3692-metres-high Wetterhorn is an impressive mountain close to Grindelwald and well visible from the village. The first ascent to the peak of this mountain is considered to have marked the beginning of the so-called Golden Age of mountaineering.
In the second half of the 19th century a good number of gentlemen, especially British, developed an interest in mountaineering. In 1854 Alfred Wills, president of the British Alpine Club, with the guide Christian Almer and other six men climbed this mountain. They honestly believed to be the first to “conquer” the Wetterhorn, but actually two Swiss climber, Johann Jaun and Melchior Bannholzer, had already done it in 1844. However the publicity given to the adventure of Mr Wills contributed very much in attracting more and more would-be climbers to the Swiss Alps.
It is little known that Winston Churchill came to Grindelwald and climbed the Wetterhorn in his youth. He did it at the age of 19, together with three guides. Before the enterprise he spent the night in the Gleckstein Hut, which at that time was a small and spartan shelter where 10 people could sleep. The Gleckstein Hut nowadays is a bigger establishment with more than 100 beds, but it remains the starting point for those who climb this mountain.
This hut, at an altitude of 2317 metres, is also the goal of one of the hiking paths near Grindelwald. The track starts from Grosse Scheidegg and has a spectacular view of the glacier, but it is not an easy hike: there are small waterfalls to cross, and drops down to the glacier.
It is always better to be informed about road conditions.
So for this reason here's a website that wil tell you every Swiss tunnel and mountain pass status, open or closed.
The most common European emergency number 112 (following Directive 2002/22/EC: Universal Service Directive) and also standard on GSM mobile phones. 112 is used in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom in addition to their other emergency numbers.
Here are some useful phone numbers that you might need while in Switzerland:
Road emergency: 140
Psychological support (free and anonymous): 143
Psychological support for teens and children (free and anonymous): 147
Helicopter air-rescue (Rega): 1414 or by radio on 161.300 MHz
Air rescue (Air Glaciers) (in Valais only): 1415
Below few words in Swiss German that you can use while visiting Switzerland.
Hello - Grüezi
Hello (to more than one person) - Grüezi mitenand
Good evening - Gueten Abig
Hi (more informal than "grüezi") - Hoi/Salü/Sali
Hi (to more than one person) - Hoi zäme
Good bye - (Uf) Widerluege/Ciao/Tschüss
Thanks a lot - Merci vilmal
See you later - Bis spöter
Monday - Määntig
Tuesday - Ziischtig
Wednesday - Mittwuch
Thursday - Dunschtig
Friday - Friitig
Saturday - Samschtig
Sunday - Sunntig
One - Eis
Two - Zwei
Three - Drüü
Four - Vier
Five - Feuf
Six - Sächs
Seven - Sibe
Eight - Acht
Nine - Nüün
Ten - Zää
Eleven - Elf
Twelve - Zwölf
Thirteen - Driizä
Fourteen - Vierzä
Fifteen - Füfzä
Sixteen - Sächzä
Seventeen - Sibezä
Eighteen - Achzä
Nineteen - Nünzä
Twenty - Zwänzk
Twenty-four - Vierezwänzk
There will come a moment when one is walking in Grindelwald or on a hiking trail and suddenly hear the sound of bells. These means cattle or sheep are in close proximity. I even noticed that some bells ringing together seemed to produce chords. If you can get three cows together with three different bells, you can get a chord produced as they move around. Needless to say, the dairy industry is very important here. That chocolate and cheese has to come from somewhere. The cattle are very accustomed to human traffic, and many will approach you or look at you out of curiosity. Perhaps they are even hoping for a handout of some kind.
Fondest memory: The sound of the bells.
Trails and walkways are well marked in Switzerland. The arrows will point out the way to go, and a general time required to make the trip is given. I found these to be accurate. Of course, allow for photo stops, rest stops, eating your lunch, and exploring in general. Trails are in very good condition. There will be a little mud in some places as the snow melts, but I found the trails to be well maintained. In my opinion, these are some of the best walking trails I have encountered so far.
Fondest memory: The views from the trail, the peace and quiet, and even the good exercise.
Fondest memory: My most favouite memory of Grindelwald comes from the first time we hiked on the First to the Bachalpsee and got this view of the mountain peak reflected in the Bachalpsee. Stunnning isn't it and a great place for a picnic.
If you only have time for one short hike in Grindelwald then take the First Gondola and hike the short distance to the Bachalpsee (just over 1 hour). You won't be disappointed with the alpine view and if its a clear calm day you will have a lovely reflection in the lake.
Also look out (or listen out!) for the marmots there.
Favorite thing: The path leading up from the Bachalpsee is called the Saumerwegg (a path of national significance) It continues behind the lake and up in the direction of the Burgi mountain hut to Gassenboden. This a great place to spot the marmots or though you will probably hear them first!
Fondest memory: The snow scenes in Grindelwald come straight from a Christmas card scene don't you think! I love to see the snow on the fir trees. This was taken somewhere on the train journey en route back down to Grindelwald - probably around Alpiglen -having been up to the Jungfraujoch.
Simply the views of the mountains. When the weather is fine (no cloud) then you have uninterrupted views to the South of the Wetterhorn, Shreckhorn and the Eiger, with extensive views down the valley towards Mannlichen.
Fondest memory: When the snow came in November and transformed the scene into a Winter Wonderland with the lights from the chalets twinkling in the dusk and the smoke from the log fires drifting across the valley
Favorite thing: The Eiger Trial is a relatively easy, if somewhat narrow, trail that traverses the contours of the foot of the Eiger and you can see how awesome the Eiger is really close up. The trail proper begins near the Eigergletscher train station...see details in the travelogue.