We keep a to do list for days when we don’t have to shoot photos for work. These are the days we typically explore the mountains surrounding where we live in Interlaken, especially areas not so popular. Today we found a tour that certainly qualified for not popular, mildly dangerous even, and far from “classic” status. It was superb in every way, and a tour we’ll never forget. Not for the route, but for the obstacles, surprises, decisions, and overall uncertainty that made it so wonderful.
Above all else, today proved that sometimes in the Alps the best thing you can do is seek out your own way, not the way of so many others. Of course the routes we recommend here are the “classics”, the guarantees of a great time. But if you have a spare day while traveling in the Alps consider drawing your own lines on a map.
Little of this will make sense to the reader, and it’s not supposed to. It was just our day and at the time didn’t make much sense to us. But it sure was fun. The trip we did doesn’t even have a logical name, for we covered so much ground in an area few go that I have no idea what to even call it.
We started in Iseltwald, on Lake Brienz, just outside Interlaken. Up we went, 1700 meters of it. We had a SwissTopo map that proved surprisingly incorrect, the Swiss Map phone app that was a bit better, and not enough food. After reaching the end of the official trail, the paper map’s trail showed on again off again, we found it off all the time. No big deal, we’d go cross country. Things went fine until we found we were on top of cliffs and 50° snow slopes over hundreds of feet of air.
After some creative grass climbing, we reached a high ridge that bypassed the cliffs and eventually dropped us down to where we wanted to go in the first place. There, on a high flat terrace from which we needed to descend to another terrace, then yet again through a cliff band and the final 1500 meters of down. We were just getting started, meanwhile the sun had already started to go down. But wait, there is a cliff below us. We had heard there was a way although hard to find, and a ladder. A ladder? After some thrashing around in the brush along the cliff’s edge, we spotted a cairn that marked a tiny passage into vertical terrain. And then we found the rope. “Seriously?!” Even by Swiss standards, this was a piece of work. Swinging around on ropes on wet, slimy 70° rock, we made it down about 70 meters until we arrived to the ladders. From there we awkwardly climbed down, all the while over-gripping for fear of our slick running shoes sliming off the smooth rungs.
Once down we found ourselves in a kind of paradise, like we’d passed through a secret door into the magic kingdom, one that we shouldn’t even know about. The large grassy terrace we were on was walled in by impenetrable cliff bands (except for our wonky way), and below another cliff who’s passage we’d yet to spy. On this terrace sat one house and about 40 bell ringing cows. It was the Sound of Music, and then some.
After eating our last food we found the exit notch, an incredibly steep and narrow trail. While the way wasn’t so steep for us, it must be a mighty feat for the cows that have to go up and down it each season. Once through, it was all trails all the way back to the car. By the time we were down it was still just barely light. There, we happily discovered we’d parked right next to a fountain that served as a much needed bath before jumping in the car and heading home.