Switzerland Mountain Biking 2012 - Jungfrau/Grindelwald - Part 1 of 4

Feb 6, 2013 at 18:05
Feb 6, 2013
by Lee Lau  
 
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|| Grindelwald/Jungfrau || Aletsch Arena - Alpine Rides|| Aletsch Arena - Fiesch & Bellwald downhills || Jeizinen in the Sonnenberg || Switzerland - General Tips and Tricks (must read for DIY'ers or if you want to know more about the country)
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Zwätschge-Chueche mit Nidlä.

Grindelwald – Bern

We liked Switzerland so much last year that we wanted go again. Apparently the Swiss liked us too as we were invited back! This time we flew on the charter airline Edelweiss Air - direct from Vancouver to Zurich. Pleasant, friendly and comfortable - exactly the kind of introduction to Switzerland one expects.

As we arranged to get bikes while in Europe, getting there was much simpler with just hand luggage. It was a snap to get out of Zurich Airport and make connections. Swiss public transit (SBB) is world reknowned for its efficiency and reliability; for that reason we came to rely on it in our past trip. Right outside the airport we caught the now familiar SBB train that was, of course, on time - and then continued on to Zug where we were picked up by friends.
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Kirchbuhl View

Typical Swiss - Hotel Kirchbuhl, Grindelwald View

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These friends were in Unteraegeri and had ridden with us in North Vancouver in 2007, and skied with us in Western Canada in 2012. Our last time around in Schweiz we'd also ridden with the Aegeri crew at Davos. Here we picked up bikes then rode two wet overcast days in Aegeri.

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Schweiz

Schweiz
Norco’s provided by Trail Rider Bike shop and Endless Summer. Sharon rode the Norco Sight, which was a great bike for climbing and on technical trails, and Lee rode the Shinobi

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Our next destination was Grindelwald in the canton of Bern. It's almost embarrassing to admit that we almost didn't go. Others had told us stories of getting yelled at by crusty old wanderwegging hikers in Bern while riding legal bike trails. We'd even had to write about a proposal by some interest groups in Bern to ban singletrack riding in late 2011.

All of this had lent the distinct impressions that Bern merely paid lip service to mountain biking and was confused about whether or not to embrace this growing demographic. Fortunately we'd met some tourism representatives from Bern and they were exceedingly nice people. During the course of writing about Bernese mountain bikers' efforts to keep trails open we'd made contact with some very cool people so off we went - and boy are we ever glad we did. As a sidenote we also got the update that the proposed anti-biking law served to galvanize the biking, tourism and outdoors community which turned out en-masse to register their concerns. Apparently biking is one of the most popular Swiss recreational activities and now the lawmakers really know that.

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General Map. We stayed at Grindelwald. Click on the map and pick Larger if you want to see more detail

General Map. We stayed at Grindelwald. Click on the map and pick "Larger" if you want to see more detail


Grindelwald - Kleine Scheidegg - Lauberhorn - Lauterbrunnen Sept 5, 2012 from Lee Lau on Vimeo.


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We stayed at the Hotel Kirchbuehl, which was a Bernese bike-hotel. Kirchbuehl's staff were super friendly and helpful. They're a little way from the train station at Grindlewald but a courtesy shuttle gets you to the hotel. Food there is exceptional. What is noteworthy too is an excellent continental breakfast with fruit, cereal, lots of bread and cheese choices. Every room had views of the mountains. It's well-set up for biking visitors and quite high-end. Perhaps the best value for money we have had in our Swiss travels of the past 2 years.

Kirchbuhl Room

Kirchbuhl Room!


Kirchbuhl Food

Kirchbuhl Food!!


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We did our first ride in Grindelwald heading up the First Gondola. Its VERY long, 5,226-meter long, climbing to 2167m. It was cloudy and the weather didn't cut us any breaks so we missed out on the viewpoints that you can get at the end of the lake at the First Vantage point. Here we first learned that "marathon" bike routes are to be avoided like the plague unless you are basically a roadie on dirt. The best route down was the "Eiger Marathon" trail which was basically a gravel and asphalt road winding down to valley bottom. Meh

Fortunately this was just a short day as we had spent half the day getting to Grindelwald from Aegeri (travelling by train in Switzerland is so easy - you don't need a car). It'd be a nice way to kill a half-day if the views were good but otherwise we'd give it a solid yawn for interesting/good trail riding.
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Schweiz

Schweiz

Ride down from First Gondola on marathon yawners


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The second day the weather cracked and went bluebird! We met Simon Weiler of Wengen Tourism and Samuel "Noodlez" Hubschmid for a local's tour. Starting out we rode 1200m to Kleine Scheidegg, a nice long grunt which fortunately was on a pretty mellow grade. Talks are underway to allow bikes on the train which goes from valley bottom (950m) to Kleine Scheidegg at 2150m but for now you can only put your bike on the train after 4pm.

Once we got to Kleine Scheidegg we realized the reason for the limits on bikes as the place was crawling with tourists (this is the main tourist access point for the Jungfraujoch railway) and of course the ubiquitous Swiss Coca Cola teepee (wish we had taken the picture). Of course we are also the epitome of tourists and wanting to experience the civilized life of Europeans we had some coffee, cheesy macaroni and cake. Then off we climbed a short 20m pitch to a traverse to the Lauberhorn downhill; site of a World cup ski race where there is singletrack among some of the most breathtaking views of glacier-clad peaks we have had the privilege of riding.

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Climbing to Kleine Scheidegg with Noodlez and Simon and eating Ghacketts mit Horndli

Climbing to Kleine Scheidegg with Noodlez and Simon and eating Ghacketts mit Horndli !


Silburhorn 3707m in the back beside the Jungfrau

Silburhorn (3707m) in the back beside the Jungfrau


Eiger North Face views don t distract Sharon from the narrow singletrack

Eiger North Face views don't distract Sharon from the narrow singletrack


Lauberhorn downhill

Lee Lauberhorn


Lauberhorn downhill

Dropping on to the Lauberhorn downhill


Schweiz
Descending to the valley dropping almost 1000m and lounging around looking into a hanging Bern valley

Noodlez and Simon in singletrack in the trees approaching the village of Wengen

Noodlez and Simon in singletrack in the trees approaching the village of Wengen

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Following the Lauberhorn downhill we descended pretty good singletrack that was surprisingly untouched by the footprints of chue. These trails wound along the typical drop-dead gorgeous Swiss villages and ended up finally in Lauterbrunnen; which is characterized by hanging glacial cut valleys possessing vertical drops of near 1000m. Of course at Lauterbrunnen there is a gondola that we took up to the village of Winteregg. From Winteregg we traversed to a conveniently located alpine restaurant where we had more coffee and cake and maybe some beer. Right from the restaurant there is a pretty awesome hiking/wanderweg trail that is fast, technical and a hell of a lot of fun. In fac,t it was so fun that for once, we didn't stop to take much video so you'll just have to take our word for it.

Conveniently, the trail takes you back to Lauterbrunnen where a street fair and market was being held. Ambushed by more roadside patios and restaurants we could not help but have more beer. After that we cruised down to the train station at Zweilutschinen and caught a ride back up the valley to Grindelwald (150m up the hill and 10km away). Back to another amazing dinner at the Kirchbuhl Hotel. Infrastructure and transportation is so civilized it almost beggars imagination

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We dropped down to the village of Lauterbrunnen and over to the Winteregg gondola. At the top of the gondola there s a nice sign and view of where we came down

We dropped down to the village of Lauterbrunnen and over to the Winteregg gondola. At the top of the gondola there's a nice sign and view of where we came down


Super fun downhill trail from the Winteregg gondola let us get our speed on. At the bottom of the Wanderweg from Winteregg Noodlez lets his freeride show

Super fun downhill trail from the Winteregg gondola let us get our speed on. At the bottom of the Wanderweg from Winteregg Noodlez lets his freeride show


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Jungfraujoch

Although we are here to ride bikes it seemed a bit silly to not come and see one of the biggest tourist attractions in Europe. This region is best known for the Eiger and Jungfraujoch. We didn’t really click in that the Jungfraujoch was accessed by a train that went through a tunnel in the Eiger. Built many years ago with construction starting in 1893, it travels to 3454m and is branded as the TOP OF EUROPE. The engineering achievement is remarkable and even more so when you realized that it was built without modern tunnelling equipment. The Swiss really are something.

While very touristy (almost kitschy at times) it is worth checking out; needless to say especially so if the views are good. The operators have done a great job at the top to highlight the glacier and the environment in the area. It's super cool to see people from all over the world come and appreciate these high alpine places that we as people who live in the mountains take for granted.

The Jungfraujochbahn is also used as access for hunters and for mountaineers to climb the Jungfrau, Monch and other peaks in the area. Conceivably you can also travel down the Aletsch glacier to the Bettmeralp/Reideralp area.

Tickets aren't cheap (140 Euros or so per person in high season) but you get them for half price with your Swiss Rail Pass; as if you need another reason to get the Swiss Pass. Our suggestion is to get on the first train and if possible on weekdays as it is a super busy attraction. Our train was only half-full. Coming down just after 1pm we saw standing-room only trains going up!

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L Bollywood Restaurant with all you can eat buffet was unfortunately not open while we were there. Top little wee window onto the Eiger s North Face Bottom Lift-served hunters got off at the toe of the glacier

L: Bollywood Restaurant with all you can eat buffet was unfortunately not open while we were there. Top: little wee window onto the Eiger's North Face: Bottom: Lift-served hunters got off at the toe of the glacier


Schweiz

Top: View from the Sphinx observatory looking onto the Jungfrau behind us looming in the background. Left and right: silly but cool tourist things to do


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Grindelwald

We almost always that we wished we had stayed longer after visiting any one of this planet's wonderful places. This can not be any more fervently expressed than when we experienced the Bernese Oberland and the Jungfrau Region. We're so glad to have visited the region but am now convinced that we didn't even scratch the surface. Our advice is to take more time here than we did. You need some local knowledge though to figure out which trails are actually good, the directions in which to ride them and the best ways to link them up and to do so you might want to talk to Beni Kaufman at the Hotel Lauberhorn. who wrote the local guidebook. You can get trail maps from Tourism Wengen and Jungrau Region Tourism

The full photo set from this wonderful place is here

(Click on the links to bring the maps up full-page. You can download GPS also if you want to replicate the loops)

Kleine Scheidegg – Lauberhorn

Length: 31 km
Duration: 6 hours, 33 minutes, 13 seconds
Vertical up: 2075 m
Vertical down: 2263.4 m
Average Speed: 4.7 km/h

Switzerland - Grindelwald - Lauberhorn




Firstbahn
(although like we said, do this only if you want views and not for the quaility of trail down)

Length: 14.8 km
Duration: 1 hour, 24 minutes, 42 seconds
Vertical up: 1085.3 m
Vertical down: 1099.7 m
Average Speed: 10.5 km/h

Switzerland - Grindelwald - First



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Big thanks to Tourism Switzerland (particularly Ursula and Mariel who did a fantastic job making sure we saw the highlights)

Thanks also to these people:
• Felix from Indian Summer; Guido and Rene from Trailrider Bikeshop
• Simon Weiler of Tourism Wengen
• Reto Ganz from Jungrau Region Tourism
• Samuel Noodlez Hubschmid - fellow mountain bike addict and volunteer advocate for bikes for Trailnet

Our bonus Swiss biking video courtesy of wizardry of Tom Malecha features a grab-bag of riding from all over Switzerland

We ride, because _____. from Filme von Draussen on Vimeo.

Must Read This Week






39 Comments

  • + 5
 Riding around this valley is a bit unchallenging and enduroesque. Amazing scenery, good food and beer make it worthwile.

10 minutes away - parallel valley - my favourite track:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3olUEOaRLnY
Really steep and slippery.

In the middle of the capital:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzrJZbW4Hqo
Flowy, jump arena at the grillsite.

Many lifttracks in a 1h driving radius. Biel, Laax, Flims, Bellalp, Metabief etc.

Winterfun:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=_seuQvPBbzE
  • - 3
 Any chance I could get citizenship?
  • + 2
 Thats a though call, exclusive clubmembership. Living in Switzerland is like living in Pripjat, only quieter. Not sure you want that...
  • - 3
 I take it, I am for depopulation of planet Earth and maximization of self sufficiency. I also like military attitude to everyday life. Then ultimately I take Montreux Jazz festival over a concert of U2 anytime - do I fit?
  • + 1
 Jazz festival is great. But do my own - maximizing media-selfsufficency. CH crowded with conformist wage slaves. I try to minimize contact with the aborigines. Just there for the sporting season nowadays otherwise I ride dh in a place that nobody knows about.
  • + 1
 Wakaba - thx for that. Everywhere we looked there is more to see. Truly we are lucky to have so many choices.
  • + 1
 I've been in Helvetica for five months now, and I'm totally with Wakaba on this one.
  • + 3
 I cant speak for Wengen/Lauterbrunnen side, but I've been going to Grindelwald all my life. Dont go for the riding. Its an incredible place, i'd live there in a heartbeat, but as far as serious MTB goes its very dull. There is unbelievably large potential but due to differing landowners, every attempt to get something good going has been shut down. Awesome town though.
  • + 1
 Is this typical of all of Switzerland or just this region?
  • + 1
 As for landowners - most of it is countyowned and not patroled. Landlords, where applicable, have deed of passage across their holding and that does not usually say walk, ride.. Keep them happy and dont ride their pastures. Alpine pastures are very fragile and erosion can easily take a hold just by careless braking. Common sense, stay on the paths.

While its technically illegal - most people ride those hiking paths.

Some nasty hickers, most are ok. No need to stop and arguing. Slow down, smile, say hi and just remember - you are the one in armor and helmet.

This is 20 min away from Lauterbrunnen and 30 min from Berne:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3olUEOaRLnY

Steep, rocky, sandy, slippery, technical, a real bitch to master and get a clean and fast line. No real jumps. As good as it gets.
Tracks been around since the mid nineties and gets made thougher and better eversince. Flat bikes and/or lots of travel work (Voltage, 951, M9, Supremes, Morewoods etc.), Specs, Norcos and the like go sour.

Rentals with some spares selection, decent daycard price, small food shop with great local foods, free parking in the finish zone in a quiet and serene valley. Mountain restaurant is good for drinks and views, food is of the pull the lid and microwave variety.

Got to say - love that place.
  • + 1
 It surprised me to learn that in Bern riding hiking trails is actually allowed in law. That's not true in all cantons
  • + 1
 Not allowed, tolerated and not prosecuted in the wake of the motion outlawing riding trails, last year. A brainfart of a single county bureaucrat since transmotioned into oblivion - it also set a sign for county police force and other "bureaucRats" not to mess or get a promotion. The cycling crowd is surprisingly powerful and in a few years the law will include a "fair" use paragraph. Method of inclusion instead of divide.
  • + 6
 The wagon wheels did not like the like the sharp switchbacks.
  • + 2
 True
  • + 2
 29ers, 120mm travel, carbonframes, flimsy rims and tires dont sell well here.
  • + 2
 ^^ Also true. The Southern California BS tires I had suffered in real mountains
  • + 1
 was just in these parts over Christmas-NYE for 2 weeks boarding. Nice to see it in summer from a MTBikers perspective. Taking to the guys in the bike shop in Lauterbrunnen, I got the idea that serious riding wasn’t all that nurtured compared to other parts of Switzerland, particularly the gravity variety. and its more a case of being allowed on the existing hiking trails. Let me know when they open a bike run down from the Schilthorn, the setting for Jimmy’s Bonds 1969 On her majesty’s secret service.... maybe along the Inferno race course??
  • + 2
 Eiger Nordwand is a BEAST! Been there 20 years ago and standing close to the Nordwand was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I hope I can return to this place sometime! Great article!
  • + 3
 Feeling privileged to live in such a beautiful country. Welcome everyone who wants to come here!
  • + 1
 For most of the pictures it was like "Ooo a mountain, but why is this here" Then I saw the person at the bottom of the picture Big Grin
  • + 1
 ha. They are huge mountains aren't they? If I didn't put a person in for scale it might have been hard to convey how big they are.
  • + 2
 Looks like a great trip!! Begs the question... Which bike to bring
  • + 2
 Nice Lee! I've been looking forward to seeing this trip posted
  • + 1
 Thanks for the collection of information. Goes directly on the To Do list Smile
  • + 1
 So close for you. Lucky! Wallis area trails are also fantastic
  • + 2
 The best part... pastry eating POV action.
  • + 2
 Been waiting for you to post this Lee, planning my trip for next Sept!!!!
  • + 1
 Those are some beautiful trails.
  • + 1
 I got the chance to go to Switzerland then the town base of Alps (one of most beautiful places) then the summit aka Jungfrau...it was the most mind-blowing place I've ever been too. The sheer time it took to go to the top and each section having a different environment. The air itself was the cleanest air I've ever breathed to begin with. It's like heaven and so pure...it's almost unexplainable lol.

I can't imagine going down though, it would take ages.
  • + 1
 I ride because i wanna....
  • + 1
 yeseree, its the alps…what else can you say
  • + 1
 We ride because it,s MOTHER F*CKING AMAZING!!!
  • + 1
 lol; the title
  • + 1
 haha will anyone else get it?
  • - 1
 Both of these videos were two of the most random things I've ever seen on the front page.
  • + 1
 alps.....
  • + 1
 Epic AM tour. Sick.
  • - 1
 If it was a pink bike video I would put my vote in for vod.
  • - 1
 so sickkk!!! sign me up?1?

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