Posted by: Alex MacGregor | May 24, 2010

Swiss Mists

The end of the line of our frustrating and circuitous path into the Swiss Alps was the town of Gimmelwald, situated on a cliff high above the Lauterbrunnen Valley.

Despite an influx of tourists in recent years, Gimmelwald is pretty much everything you imagine Switzerland to be: traditional farmhouses set amid livestock-filled meadows, with wild alpine scenery overlooking it all. Caroline first made a visit here several years ago, and had always wanted to come back.

Locals have their cowbell collections in proud display.

The Lauterbrunnen Valley is unique because you get great scenery looking both up at the mountains and down into the green valley below.

Gimmelwald was largely put on the map by Rick Steves and his rave reviews of Mountain Hostel–to this day the place has far more Americans than most hostels in Europe. It remains a great place to stay, although you’d probably need to book in advance in the busy summer.

From town, we witnessed this avalanche falling before our eyes! (Look just above the top of the tree in the middle.)

We spotted this creature just outside of town.

Unfortunately, much of our time in Gimmelwald was spent hoping the weather would improve. The scenic mountain panoramas were frequently obscured by mist, backlighting all of our pictures and causing us to have to duck from the sporadic rain.

Sometimes, it was like the clouds were teasing us, showing just a small window of what we could be seeing in better weather!

Hiking is the main activity in Gimmelwald.

On our first day, we decided on an ambitious trail that goes high on a mountain and ends at a glacier lake.

For a while, the weather was looking promising. We got a great view of Gimmelwald from the other side of a small valley.

Eventually, we encountered snow.

At first, it was fun.

Over time, the trail got worse and worse, until it was eventually impassable in our tennis shoes. Note to self: June is the month to go to Switzerland.

We decided to stop and enjoy our picnic lunch.

From our higher position, at least we were able to get some great views of the nearby mountains.

A huge glacier clinging to a mountaintop

Later, we decided to defy the weather and tried to make a shorter, lower hike to another glacier. Caroline had made this hike on her previous visit and it sounded great.

Snow covering up a river.

Caroline leads the way through the rain. Unfortunately, the glacier was pretty much covered in snow and tough to see much of, especially with the rain and fog.

We decided to call it a day and see if the weather would improve in the morning.

When we first woke up, the valley was filled with mist and it was raining steadily. Fortunately, the weather improved drastically and we were off and hiking by 9. On day two, we decided to head into the valley below.

The path towards the valley floor.

A spectacular cataract on the cliffs below Gimmelwald.

The first view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley is always particularly striking.

As we walked toward the town of Lauterbrunnen, the weather steadily improved, so we were able to gaze at the many waterfalls and cliffs without fear of rain.

In the uphill direction, the mountains were still shrouded in mist.

Eventually, we stumbled upon the Trummelbachfalle.

The runoff from glaciers upstream has created a series of jagged caverns.

The water rushes through in some immensely powerful waterfalls.

The ‘corkscrew’–a twisted gap that water rushes through at high speed.

From high on the falls, you get the classic Lauterbrunnen Valley shot.

Outside the falls, we got a feel for the bizarre effects of international tourism in the area. An Indian tour group had left the falls just as we entered, and was sitting down to a big lunch at the park outside. I couldn’t help but snap a picture of the “GourmIndia” truck that follows the tour group around, waiting for them to get hungry!

The town of Lauterbrunnen, famous for the waterfall falling from the cliff above. Unfortunately, another storm was forming just down the valley, marching up the valley to soak us again!


  1. Hi, very nice photos, I’m from Turkey. There are a lot of photos of sightseeing in Istanbul was very nice in fact I wish you success.

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