Jungfraujoch for sissies?

May 6th, 2008, 06:06 PM
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Jungfraujoch for sissies?

My husband has bad knees & I had a case of altitude sickness in Tibet, so I am wondering if we are able to enjoy a trip to the Jungfraujoch while touring the Alps in Switzerland.
Marsh is offline  
May 7th, 2008, 03:41 AM
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Your husband's bad knees should not affect his ability to go to the observation platform at the research station up on the Jungfraujoch saddle: You go by mountain railway from Interlaken up to Kleinescheidegg, and from there you take another train that runs THROUGH the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains, ending at the research station. In the station itself, there are lifts etc, and access seemed easy.
You can spend a couple of hours there, and then descend via the same route to Kleinescheidegg, and from there switch to another train and complete the circle route back to Interlaken. I doubt that you will be high enough for long enough to develop altitude sickness, so I guess that the trip would be enjoyable.
N.B. When you arrive at Kleinescheidegg on the way up, if the research station is not visible from there, then the weather may be too poor to allow views from Jungfraujoch, and therefore the trip to the research station might not be worth the considerable expense.
adeben is offline  
May 7th, 2008, 11:40 AM
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How bad was your altitude sickness and how quickly did it occur.

We both felt a little lightheaded at the top when we stood up to get off the train. But - we went and had lunch and then felt better - and looked around at all the various options.

But some people - if they have compromised breathing for some reason - can be affected strongly and quickly. I would use your previous experience as a guide - assuming the altitude is the same. (If you had altitude sickness at a considerably lower altitude - say 7,000 feet or so - I wouldn't attempt the Jungfrau.)
nytraveler is offline  
May 7th, 2008, 06:11 PM
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The Jungfraujoch reaches an elevation of about 11,385 feet.

The ascent is relatively quick although the train stops for people to look out through the ventilation windows in the tunnel the burrows through the north face of the Eiger.

Much of Tibet is higher than that, but Lhasa is very near 12,000 feet. So it is comparable in elevation.

I can suggest a few ways to test your reaction to the higher conditions as well as a few potential alternatives.

One way is this: Don't commit to the whole Jungfrau trip at once. Buy a ticket as far as Kleine Scheidegg, which is considerably lower than the Jungfraujoch at an elevation of about 6,800 feet. If you feel ok there after an hour or so, you can take the plunge and buy a ticket to the top and back.

If Kleine Scheidegg is not comfortable, there are frequent trains back to either Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald.

Another test you might try is to drive (assuming a car) to the top of the Grimsel Pass or the Sustern Pass and see how you feel. The scenery is awesome.

Or yet another ploy would be to take the train to Wengen and then take the cable lift up to the crest of the Männlichen, the ridge that towers over the valley east of Lauterbrunnen.

Two advantages here. One, the Männlichen is higher than Kleine Scheidegg by several hundred feet at 7,686 feet.

Two, the view from up there is incredible. While not quite as high as the Jungfraujoch, it certainly enables you to get a great view of areas that you cannot see from the Joch.

Most of the short walks in the immediate area of the upper lift station on the Männlichen are flat. There are benches for viewing, and a cafe with a nice view as well. The round trip ticket is also considerably cheaper!!!

Also the walk from the train station in Wengen to the cable lift station is short and flat.

Another option would be to take the spectacular gondola ride from Grindelwald to First, which is the name of terminal station that lies about 7,200 feet above sea level.

The ride up is special to me because it was my first excursion in Switzerland when we visited in 1998. There is a cafe integrated with the First gondola stastion that offers a huge terrace that affords great views of the Eiger and the other peaks of the Berner Oberland.

The main problem here is that the gondola station is a fairly long walk up the main street of Grindelwald from the train station.
The route is gently uphill and on sidewalks, but it is about half a mile distant.

I think you could take the Post Bus one stop up, and get off. (Have not done it, so I am speculating. I know the bus to Grosse Scheidegg goes east toward the First Gondola along the main stree.)

I have never had to worry about the walking aspect of the trip. Although my wife has two candidates for knee replacement, she did the walk last year with no trouble.

As grand as the view is at the Jungfraujoch, it is not the end all and be all for enjoying the Swiss Alps. We have visited the area quite a few times and only gone to the Joch twice. Not going did NOT in any way detract from the enjoyment of our visit.

So I think there are many alternatives that would enable you to get tremendous views of the Alps without the risk of becoming adversely affected by the altitude at the Jungfraujoch. In other words, I see several ways by which you could wade into the shallow water of the pond to test conditions without jumping off the diving board into the deep end.

bob_brown is offline  
May 7th, 2008, 07:37 PM
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Thanks so much for your wonderful replies! I have been to Switzerland once but not to the BO! My husband has not been to this country and is eager to go. We plan to visit Italy after seeing the Alps.
Marsh is offline  
May 7th, 2008, 09:32 PM
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I need to clarify one of my sentences above. When I said walking aspect, I meant walking to the First gondola station from the Grindelwald train station.

The walk from the Grindelwald train station is along the main street of Grindelwald. The gondola station is located a little off to your left before you reach the church. I find station itself by looking for the cables ascending from behind some buildings. Not a very scientific way of doing it, but after finding about it about 6 times I know where to look. I found it the first time the same way: Walk up the street and look for the cables rising up the hill. Had to be there somewhere!!!

For me cost is a factor. The price of the Jungfrau trip from the Interlaken Ost station, where the sequence of trains originates, is 177.80 Swiss francs.

The cost of the trip from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald to First is 20.40 for the train and 51 francs for the gondola for a total of 71.40 chf ( Swiss francs).

The cost of a round trip from Interlaken Ost to the Männlichen is 64.40.

From both the Männlichen and First you can look and look some more.

Last summer my wife's knees slowed her up quite a bit. While I took a few short walks from the gondola station at First and at the Männlichen, she enjoyed the view from the terraces of the restaurants.

The restaurant at First is more of a self-serve snack bar, but there is plenty to eat and drink.

The terrace itself is large and there are signs on the railing that show the names of the various peaks. The restaurant is perched on the side of a sheer drop, so there are no trees to obstruct the view to the south, east, and west.

I do not argue against the views from the Jungfraujoch, but on the other hand you cannot see some of the peaks from the Joch as well as you can from First because you are standing on top of them at the Jungfrau and the neighboring peaks block the view particularly to the east and west!!

At any rate, back in 1998 when we made our first ascent to First, I just about had to hold my eyes in. They were about to pop out.

I have made the trip more than once because in many respects, nothing else in the Berner Oberland is quite like it. The view of the famed north face of the Eiger is tremendous, but you can see other, higher peaks rising to the south.

I had been to the Colorado Rockies, climbed to the top of Mount Harvard and the Mount of the Holy Cross, both over 14,000 feet, but I had never seen anything like that.

In years past at the Jungfraujoch, we did the walk from the observation building to the shelter facility bolted to the side of the Mönch, which is the adjoing peak. Without that added excursion I am not sure that the Jungfraujoch trip is much more rewarding than the view from First!!

The walk to the shelter facility I mentioned is along a snow track that has been groomed for walkers, but I think it would be hard on the legs if there is a knee problem to consider.

But we can argue that merits of the views for various viewpoints in the Berner Oberland for a very long time and never reach a definite conclusion!! There are good features to both.

bob_brown is offline  
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