In Lauterbrunnen and the surrounding mountains you may easily try out paragliding from Schilthorn or Allmendhubel, Wengen or Birg. You may book a flight in advance or in some cases I even met paragliders, who went up the Schilthorn and waited there for passengers for a tandem-flight.
The prices for such a flight are :
from Schilthorn : 270,- sfr / from Mürren : 160,- sfr
Equipment: You will not need to bring your own equipment - it will be provided by the companies :
swiss-paragliding.ch in Leissingen
A few companies in the Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald area offer paragliding. You can go up tandem if you are a beginner. I did not do this when I was there but I did take these pictures of very brave (or crazy) people soaring with the eagles. This has to be one of the most beautiful places on the entire earth to paraglide. If I was young and had strong knees, I would give it a try, but I'm neither, so I will just watch them from the safety of good old mother earth.
From Mürren we descended towards tiny hamlet of Gimmelwald - a pleasant 40-min. walk. The road is well marked. You can take the Mürren-Gimmelwald gondola instead (5 minutes ride, not covered by Swiss Pass). Gimmelwald has no food store, so stock up in Mürren.
Gimmelwald is a small farming hamlet of 130 inhabitants, is an ideal starting point for wonderful walks and hikes in a wild, beautiful area. Hiking in Switzerland is among the best in the world.
For many people the views from the top of Schilthorn is the best natural scenery they will see in their lifetime. Start hiking early, because as it often happens the clouds roll in out of nowhere by mid-afternoon. If you think you can't handle the climb (close to 5 hours, counting lunch, breaks and photo stops on the way), I highly recommend you take a gondola, (even though it's somewhat expensive, but Swiss Pass offers a discount), and then perhaps descent on your own and save money on that.
The cable railway follows the trail of James Bond to the Piz Gloria on the Schilthorn (the region became particularly well-known thanks to the film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”). The rotating restaurant on top of Schilthorn is pretty expensive but you would expect it. They claim that from Piz Gloria you not only can observe Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, but 200 further peaks, 43 glaciers, and a view that reaches all the way into Germany and France (on a clear day, of course). A complete spin takes one hour; the revolving restaurant was the first worldwide to be built at an altitude of 3000 m at the sea level in 1969. Do not miss the Touristorama underneath the restaurant with it's beautiful slide show covering all seasons and activities of the area, and scenes from the James Bond movie.
Equipment: Even if it's a hot day, don't forget to bring a jacket, because it's cooler at higher elevations.
We have just returned from one of our most memorable trips ever to the Lauterbrunnen valley - and what a breathtaking valley it is!
We tried several activities and can hand on heart recommend Paragliding. We chose the Mürren flight, as there were 3 different flights to choose from. The Pilots were fantastic - not only friendly, with perfect English but also made us feel so safe.
This flight I will never forget - it felt like we were almost touching the mountains yet at the same time looking down on them. Our flight took us also towards the famous James Bond mountain (Schilthorn) and finally over the steep valley walls (wow - little scary but amazing) and then onto the landing area.
The best birthday present that I ever received!
Equipment: The pick up service and shoe hire is included as well as all other equipment.
We also received a voucher for a complimentary drink at the local Café (Airtime coffee shop).
Due to the ever present crevace danger, once we leave the steep slope, and enter onto the glacier itself, we ski single file behind our mountain guide, Daniel Zimmerman, who is very experienced. Also, it is not that steep, and due to the deep snow, it is easier to follow in someone else's tracks. We have heavy backpacks on and no one wants to fall on flat ground, struggle to get up, and then have to walk and pole their way out. Better to take the easy track behind the person in front of you.
After a short ski down, its always too short on such a day, with such good snow conditions, and good weather. However, after a short ski down, we arrive at the Mutterhorn Hut. The Hut is only open when it is booked. The reason being is that as mentioned everything has to flown in, and the only access is by helicopter. Some hardy souls do skin up on their touring skis from the valley below. But, too few to make the Hut a going concern on a year round basis. I am going to check exactly how to book the hut, and post those details later.
One staple of hut living is the lack of running water. Not just hot and cold running water or showers, but no running water. All our water has to be heated on the stove, melted off the roof, or be flown in. This makes it a precious commodity. That means now showers for a week. Cleaning oneself with handywipes, make sure you buy babywipes without alcohol, as the alcohol can dry and eventually crack your skin. Water is used sparingly, which means the outhouse is out back. It is a breezy experience baring your backside, as a wind whips up the sheer cliff below your bottom. But, you cannot beat the view.
However, before the hut or the outhouse can be used by anyone, everyone has to pitch in and shovel the unused hut out of a winter's worth of accumulated snows. There is a good 3-feet of snow on the balconey, and we need to make a runway between the backdoor and the outhouse, in case nature calls in the middle of the night. As we collect our drinking water by melting snow in and around the hut, taking a leak in an unauthorized place is strictly verboten. No exceptions, not even at 2 a.m. when it is minus 20 and blizzarding.
There are a series of mountain huts throughout the Alps, perhaps the most travelled being the famed hut to hut route between Chamonix, France, and Zermatt, Switzerland (not to ignore Italy along the way at both sides).
The Mutterhorn was probably built about a century ago, although if I remember correctly, it was smaller, and was added onto in the 1970s. When I can track down the right history, I will surely update these pages.
The European Division of the National Ski Patrol have been using this particular hut now for about two decades. It is ideal for practicing mountain travel and rescue in a unique, but relatively safe place. Access is only by helicopter or by foot or ski.
The hut is only open on demand and must be booked ahead of time. The best time to go is in late March, early April.
I could go on writing about this experience. I have more photos to publish. Of course, just writing this like reliving it again. However, I hope you enjoyed my tips, and I will try to fill-in the blanks as I have time.
As you can see, it is warm, dry, and comfortable in the hut, but lacking all the essentials. No TV, no running water, so look forward to a quiet evening of playing cards, chatting, and drinking a few beers. We were lucky, they flew in the beer by helicopter, so we did not have to carry it in. The meals were basic fare. Nothing fancy, but homemade and nutritious. Soup, bread, stew, chicken, usually dessert, coffe and tea. After a long day on the pistes and playing in the snow, it tasted very good, and much better than the food we packed-in in our backpacks.
Accomodation is spartan. You are recommended to bring your own sleeping bag. There are blankets, but they are old and sratchy. No one knows the last time they were washed? I would recommend bringing a sleeping bag liner, which keeps you bag clean, and can be easily washed. And, a pillow case, as again, the pillows have been in use for a longtime, and it is more hygenic and comfortable to cover them with a clean pillow case. There is only a woodstove for heat, so at the fringes of the bunk house, it can get cold at night, so you will want to wear long underwear and socks to bed. Especially, if you need to have the windown open for fresh air. With 20-30 people sleeping in one room, it can get hot and stuffy (when its not freezing), and the stove takes up oxygen, too. We were lucky, we almost asphixiated ourselves. I woke up in the middle of the night with such a headache. Lack of fresh air, and the burning stove using up oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide. So many people had headaches in the morning, no wonder. Make sure you have enough fresh air, to be on the safe side.
Getting ready for a week on the mountain, with only the clothes on your back, and what you can carry in your knapsack requires careful planning. More on that later.
Equipment: Will update after I get photos uploaded.
Everyone standing around in their winter parkas on a beautiful late March morning, waiting for the chopters to be ready to take off. It is an exciting moment. Let's see what did I forget to pack?
Equipment: Will add more later after I get the photos uploaded. Sorry, but takes so long. Please check back.
Standing around in the early morning, waiting for the helicopters to be ready. They will fly us up to the glacier 4-at a time. We are about 12-15 people so there are 2-helicopters, which will also fly up our ski equipment and food and supplies in the cargo nets.