Berner Oberland

Jan 8th, 2006, 03:02 PM
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Berner Oberland


My husband and I will be in the Berner Oberland for 3-4 days this July. We plan to do both the Jungfraujoch and the Schilthorn as well hiking through the region and seeing the small towns (Gimmelwald, etc...). We'll probably try for the early bird specials to the summits to save $, as a sidenote.

Our question is: Should we stay the 3 nights in Lauterbrunnen or Murren?

Thanks much,
Betsy_B is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 04:22 PM
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You ask a very good question. I normally stay in Lauterbrunnen because it is in the center with normally easy access to the Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch.

This year for the Schilthorn, you will probably need to travel to the valley left station near the end of the road in Stechelberg. The Post Bus from Lauterbrunnen goes directly to the lift station and the descending car is timed to meet the bus.

The Jungfraujoch route takes you up the other side of the valley. You board the train in Lauterbrunnen and head up via Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg. There, you change trains for the top.

I think you have two choices.
Stay 2 nights in Mürren for the Schilthorn and 2 nights in Wengen for the Jungfraujoch. There are other opportunities from both places for mountain viewing.

The other choice is to stay all nights in Lauterbrunnen so that you are cenrally located and don't have to keep moving your luggage about.

I don't think it will take you long to see Gimmelwald! I seem to have done it in 10 minutes. Of course I did not stop to eat there.

One thing about Wengen, it has a very good bakery!

The early bird specials will save you $$. But, have you looked at the benefits of the Swiss Card and the Half Fare Card.

I normally buy the Swiss Card because the cost of the card includes a train ride in and out of the country.
The exit point need not be the same as the entry point.

In between, the Swiss Card yields a discount of 50% on most rides, including many of the mountain transportation systems. There are a few short ones where the discount is only 25%, but these are only a few.

For the Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch, the costs savings are substantial.
Jungfrau trip early ticket is 130 chf.
Schilthorn early ticket is 98.40.

The savings is half of (130 + 98.40) or 114 chf (about). The cost of the Card is 178 chf. If you entered and departed from the Zürich airport, the rail cost without discount to Lauterbrunnen is 143 chf return ticket. If you have the card, you don't pay the 143 so your total savings are about (143+114) - 178 = 79 chf. Anything else you save is gravy.

bob_brown is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 04:32 PM
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OOPS valley lift station.

The cable car route goes from Stechelberg to Gimmelwald to Mürren to the Schilthorn. You change cars twice as I recall but that consists of walking from one to the other as the ascending and descending cars are timed carefully to meet.

One additional note, I am not sure when the old cable car system from Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp will be put out of service. The problem is that the ground in the Grutschap area is in danger of sliding off the side.

The name Grutschalp in fact is derived from a German word that means "slipping".

The intent is to replace the current system with a masted cable line with a big passenger cabin that hangs from a cable.

The current equipment is something like an elevator with wheels that runs on tracks. The passenger vehicle itself is pulled up and lowered by a big cable. The equipment at the top to do the pulling and lowering has a tremendous weight load on it that pulls sideways and downwards.

If the cable car from Stechlberg has to handle ALL of the valley to Mürren traffic, things are going to get backed up unless the cable cars run more frequently than they do. I have not heard what the solution will be.

Start early and run late I suppose.
I don't see offhand how the cars can carry any more people or how they can run any faster. I am not even sure how more cars per hour could be scheduled.

I would not want to hike up the side of that hill toting a suitcase, that is for sure.

bob_brown is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 01:37 PM
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Thank you, Bob! I didn't know about the funicular being closed to the Schilthorn. If we take the early bird special to the Schilthorn and stay in Lauterbrunnen, we'll be waking up very early! We really don't mind moving around (each taking a backpack), so your suggestion of staying 2 nights in Murren for the Schilthorn and 2 nights in Wengen for the Jungfrau is good.

Which is the more charming village - Lauterbrunnen or Wengen? I am thinking we could still stay in Lauterbrunnen for the Jungfrau. What do you think?

Any recommendations of hotels would be great. We are on a budget and would prefer $80-$100/night. Thanks!

We will have a rental car, so I am not sure if the train pass would be the best bang for our buck. We will def. go for the early bird specials on the lifts.

Betsy_B is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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Betsy, Bob is a plethora of very useful information as he knows the area well. We have stayed at the Staubbach Hotel in Lauterbrunnen with a view of the Staubbach Falls. It's on main street and about a 7 minute walk from the train station. A double room with private bath runs about $100 US.
jill_h is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 03:21 PM
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Let me emphasize, it is the cable lift from Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp that is being impacted by the slipping subsoil.

The line from Stechelberg - Gimmelwald - Mürren - Schilthorn will remain the same as far as I know.

There were in years past two ways to ride from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren.
The way most people followed was to board the cable car in Lauterbrunnen and be pulled up the side of the valley to Grutschalp. There, everybody who wanted to ride, got on a little train that runs along the flat shelf of the valley.

The walk from Grutschalp to Mürren on a clear day is stunning. The Jungfrau dominates the view to the southeast and other peaks in the Berner Oberland are directly south.

It is the Lauterbrunnen - Grutschalp segment of the trip that is going to be phased out because of the geologic situation.

As for hotels, the Silberhorn and the Oberlander are probably the two I would consider. I have not used but one hotel in Lauterbrunnen - the Oberland.

There are several in the town including the Crystal and the Staubbach.

The village is mostly one street and the hotels are fairly close to the train station. The Oberlander is within walking distance; so is the Schilthorn.
The Crystal is close to the Oberlander while the others are at the south end of the village.

(I don't use the hotels often because I stay in an apartment.)
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 03:24 PM
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I am not sure which I prefer between Lauterbrunnen and Wengen. Lauterbrunnen has appeal for me because people live there and work there. Wengen is to me more of a hotel village. Yes people live there too.

Wengen is a little smaller than Lauterbrunnen, but has probably more and larger hotels. It would be on the route to the Jungfraujoch. The train goes up from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg where all travelers to the top change trains for the last leg of the journey.

The train to Lauterbrunnen originates at Interlaken Ost. Note that Interlaken has two trains stations, Ost and West.
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 13th, 2006, 04:08 AM
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Hi Betsy_B,

Just to add a note to the good information you've gotten so far --

If you are renting a car, staying in Wengen won't make much sense for you. Wengen is a car-free town, and you have to leave your car at the car-park in Lauterbrunnen anyway.

Good luck!

swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 13th, 2006, 08:14 AM
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Mürren is free of gasoline/diesel powered cars as well. A few electric carts are used for hauling heavy goods.

There is parking at the Stechelberg valley station of the cable line that goes to Gimmelwald-Mürren-Schilthorn. You pay for it of course.

Once in Lauterbrunnen, the car is mainly useful for going to Grindelwald or driving the 7 to 8 miles or so back to Interlaken. The valley itself is a deadend. You go out the way you came in.

No other choice.
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 08:29 PM
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we just returned from Lauterbrunnen and stayed at Silberhorn (thanks bobbrown for much help in planning trip). we loved the Silberhorn, felt we were centrally located for jungfrauhoch, schilthorn, murren, gimmelwald, wengen) if you want details of Silberhorn, my trip report is up at Trip Reportoston Family: Lauterbrunnen 12/23-12/27. Ia m jealous, I want to go back in warm weather too ! You will love the area no matter where you stay.
escargot is offline  
Jan 19th, 2006, 12:57 PM
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Thanks for all of the replies - Bob Brown, you are a wealth of information! I will certainly check out the Silberhorn from the trip report. I am really looking forward to being in this beautiful part of the world.
Betsy_B is offline  
Jan 28th, 2006, 02:18 PM
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Bob---when you speak of the cableway from Lauterbrunnnen to Grutschalp being closed due to slippage, do you mean the funicular that one catches just outside the Lauterbrunnen train station? This is our usual way up to Murren---what a shame if it must be closed. Where would we look for more information on re-opening? Thanks!
enzian is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 11:01 AM
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ok, unrelated, but can anyone tell me why my post has a weird looking face where the letter B should be??? What key could I possibly have hit instead ?
escargot is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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: B, when put together without the space =
Budman is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 12:39 PM
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To respond to the question by Enzian aboutd the lift that is being shut down, there are some details available which I will summarize here.

As I understand it from the German description, the current system in Lauterbrunnen that takes passengers up to the station called Grutschalp is being taken out of service in late March.

Construction will start immediately along the same right of way. The plan as I understand it is to put in masts that support a cable car system. The car will hold about 100 people and travel back and forth between the old furnicular station in Lauterbrunnen and the one in Grutschalp.

The small train that has for years shuttled between Grutschalp and Mürren will continue in operation for now.

The reason the current system must be replaced is the terrain. The side of the cliff is slowly but surely pulling away from the rest of the side of the valley. Evidently, a decided slippage has taken place and part of the wall of the cliff is bowing out.

The weight of the cable car pulls the cliff downwards and away from the main valley wall. The gap is large enough now that ground water seeps in, freezes, and forces the crack to become larger.
The larger it gets, the more water can seep in, and the greater the hydrostatic pressure from freezing.

The problem has been known to exist for quite sometimes. The authorities have been reluctant to act until now because the transportation system is a major money maker and the feeder of tourists into Mürren.

Unless something is done now, I understand that there is a treat that whole side of the cliff could break loose with disastrous results.

That is why the Swiss Government has insisted that something must be done NOW, not later.

My expectation is that the new cable car line will be very much like the Schilthornbahn that originates in Stechelberg and ascends in stages to Gimmelwald, Mürren, and finally the summit of the Schilthorn at Piz Gloria.

I do not have enough knowledge to explain why a passenger car suspended from a moving cable will be superior in its impact on the substrata of the landscape to what is now in place.

I hope an engineer out there can comment on this issue so we will all be better informed because I don't pretend to understand all of the engineering and geological factors that entered into the decisions.

My guess is that the footings for the cable support towers can be anchored deeper into solid rock, below the layer of ground that is slipping. The piers for the towers currently in existence else where in the area seem to be massive concrete pourings that push straight down rather than at an oblique angle that tugs at the side of the mountain.

I think an analogous situation to the current threat can be seen in California when the top soil slides off the sides of the cliffs and takes whole houses with it.
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 02:22 PM
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Thank you, Bob. Is there a website where I can read about this? (I can read German.) I haven't been able to find anything on Google---the site just says it is being shut down for maintenance on April 24. And both the Deutschebahn and Swiss Bundesbahn sites show this funicular continuing to run, at least on dates well into July that I have plugged in to the schedule.

We have ridden this funicular a number of times, originally with some trepidation, but then with increasing faith in Swiss engineering. I still have to look out to the side, not straight down, on the descent! But I prefer it to the big gondola from Stechelberg for the approach to Mürren.

I can, however, see how it might have an adverse impact on the hillside---especially after last summer's floods and landslides. I guess on our next trip we'll pack light and walk up!
enzian is offline  

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