Sunday, 15 September 2013


Solid cloud had descended during the night to conceal the jagged peaks at the end of our valley. Heavy shrouds of mist clung to the walls of the Lauterbrunnen cliffs. Such was the view that greeted me this morning when I stepped onto our balcony. I confess to having a "Scotland moment". Was this Switzerland? Accessing the Schilthorn weather cam revealed a 'socked in' peak. Thank heavens for our weather window yesterday. Are we allowed to feel even slightly smug?
After a leisurely breakfast, we set out for Trummelbach Falls, Europe's only accessible glacial waterfall within a mountain. To be more precise, Trummelbach actually consists of a series of ten successive waterfalls. The ten glacial waterfalls have been made accessible by Swiss engineering ingenuity - a tunnel funicular, illuminated interior walkways, stairways and viewing stations. On approach, the green forested hills and sheer cliff walls reveal nothing of the raging glacial waters within. That is, if you cannot hear the thunder of this Swiss Niagara. I wondered what early settlers thought. A ghostly ogre? A roaring, angry mountain god?
Trummelbach drains the glaciers of Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch carrying 20,200 tons of boulder detritus per year and up to 20,000 litres of water per second. Viewing is prohibited during the spring runoff months. No kidding?
Once at the base, you ride a funicular up through the mountain to a level between Waterfall 6 and Waterfall 7. (I should interject here that Waterfall 10 is at the top, Waterfall 1, at the bottom.)
Exiting the funicular is to be instantly deafened by the roar of raging glacial waters. So overwhelming is the noise that Jim and I found ourselves yelling to be heard. We quickly reverted to hand signals for communication. An old throwback to our sailing days? Oh, and that hair you so carefully coifed this morning. Hah! Water dripping from the tunnel roof can only be likened to walking in a rainfall without an umbrella. My second shower of the day!
Now you begin your climb through claustrophobic wet caves, alongside the raging river and up a series of endless stairs. Each Waterfall presents a different photographic moment. Thank heavens for digital; the click of our cameras never ceased. The final ascent to Waterfall 10 is up a flight of 185 steps. To that fact I can attest because I counted each and every step. My quads, by the way, will verify such! Waterfall 10 is magnificent. Glancing upwards a cleft in the ceiling allows you to see the edge of the cliff and the point at which the mighty surge of glacial water begins its plunge though the mountain.
Your descent now begins back to the funicular station or, as Jim and I chose, a descent on foot to the lower five waterfalls. Passing below the tree line on this descent, you catch whiffs of green scented air, hinting that the base of the falls is near. Our adventure had ended.
A charming Swiss inn and a caffe latte provided us with a moment to reflect on the absolute power of Mother Nature - how her tools of time and water surpass the power of any tool man can devise.
This afternoon has been spent the the comfortable lounge of the Staubbach, organizing train schedules and preparing for our next phase - Austria!

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