I'm going to be spending a week in Lauterbrunnen this summer (early July) and am looking for suggestions on hikes. I have my ideas on ones that I'd like to do, but I'd like to hear your thoughts. Both my wife and I are quite fit and we've done some pretty substantial hikes in Suedtirol (Val Gardena/Seiser Alm) as well as other parts of Switzerland in the past, so we are very open to more challenging hikes. The biggie here is scenery. I'm a photographer so amazing vistas is key. I've been to the BO before and I know everywhere you look is gorgeous, but I'd like to get 6 or 7 insanely amazing hikes to do.
The "ridge" hike between First and Schnygge Platte is the best hike I've (almost) done in 3 trips to the area. It's 3,000 foot elevation gain and 9 miles if I remember correctly. The reason I (almost) did hike is we found out it wasn't technically open yet - it was early July. Decided to go between First and the Faulhorn. When we got to the Faulhorn realized there were people coming from the other direction and we followed an older swiss couple. Figured if they could do it we could too:) Well we ran into another local woman with her dog, good hiking boots and hiking poles. She showed us pictures of the snow field she had to cross and advised it would not be safe without good boots and poles. We had already crossed several snow fields that made me nervous. So after completing 2/3 of the hike we ended up heading "straight" down a valley toward I think Wilderswill? Anyway….moral of the story is check on conditions before planning on any hike like this:) The views we saw were totally amazing! I really want to go back and do the complete hike someday.
I always write about this so my vote is hike the Schilthorn! Either start by hiking through the beautiful valley from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg (past the Trummelbach Falls) (2 hrs. with stops; very level) and take the gondola to Gimmelwald (1st stop). There's a postal bus that runs from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg as an alternative to the hike. From Gimmelwald, just follow the signs! This is about a 5-6 hr. hike with stops and it does get rocky once you pass the tree line. Even in July, you may run into snow below the summit so boots (and layered clothing) are a must doing this hike. It seems at every bend there is another awesome view and, of course, the view at the top can't be beat! P.S. I, too, am a photographer and not long ago I dropped my big Nikons and their equally big lenses and went to Panasonic/Olympus micro four thirds - less than half the weight and the pictures out of the cameras are amazing. A hiker's dream equipment. The Sony A-series (with a larger sensor) are another great alternative. Hope you guys enjoy your trip!
Some great hikes:
The Panoramaweg walk from Schynige Platte to First, mentioned above. You will take the train to Wilderswil and the little cogwheel train up to Schynige Platte for the trail. It follows along the ridge,,with lots of ups and downs. At times you will have views out both sides, including the lake down to your left (Brienzersee). From the top of the Faulhorn you have a 360 degree view. Near the end, before reaching the gondola station at first!!you will pass a little lake, Bachalpsee, which is a classic photo spot---with reflections of the peaks across the valley on the quiet waters of the lake. I believe afternoon light is perfect for this shot. The gondola takes you down to Grindelwald. Check on the closing time so you don't miss it! Do this hike on a clear day.
The Eiger North Face trail. This traverses below the face of the Eiger, with amazing views from a unique perspective. The trail connects the Eigergletscher and Alpiglen stops on the Jungfrau train line, and you can take it uphill or down. It combines well with either the Jungfraujoch trip, or the easy walk from Männlichen to Kleinescheidegg. Eigergletscher is a stop up from KS, toward the Jungfrau, and Alpiglen is a stop below KS, on the way down to Grindelwald.
Rotstockhütte: this is a hike from Mürren into the Sefinental above. There are several trails that take you there, including one from the Schilthorn trail system, and one that returns to Gimmelwald past the little waterfall, so you can work out a loop trip. Parts of this route can be muddy as you pass through alps grazed by cows.
Oberhornsee: a beautiful alpine lake in the narrow valley above and beyond Stechelberg. Trails go there from Stechelberg and from Gimmelwald, so you can do a one-way hike, either uphill or down. I have not yet done this hike.
And of course there is the Schilthorn. Since we prefer to hike uphill rather than down, this is an appealing hike as one can ride the cablecar down. But we have never had good enough weather for this hike; I would not attempt it when thunder showers threaten, or in fog.
The hike to the Schilthorn was one of the most spectacular that we have taken. It is 10 miles round trip and 5000 foot elevation gain. We hike up via Birg and Schilthornhutte, but down a different trail on the way back down. Our hiking poles made the hike easier.
The next day we hiked Murren to Gimmelwald to Tanzbodell to Obersteinberg to Stechelberg and the gondola back up to Murren. This was a bit easier, but was an all day hike past waterfalls and spectacular views.
We stayed 4 nights in Murren and went to Interlaken on the rainy day. You will want to hike to the summit on the Schilthorne on the clearest day.
Depending on how substantial your hiking experience is, you could try a guided Aletsch Glacier trek and be immersed in the scenery. Examples: http://www.cosleyhouston.com/berner-summer-glacier-trek.htm or http://www.swissalpineguides.ch/english/Glacier_Trek/glaciertek.html.
Thanks all. Great suggestions. Some of them were on my short list, a few more were added.
BTW: Has anyone out there hiked the Gemmi Pass between Leukerbad and Kandersteg? It looks absolutely amazing. These guys did it downhill on mountain bikes (which is illegal and I think just stupid), but the video gives a good idea of what the hike looks like.