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Top of the Mountain with Limited Mobility

I would love to visit one of the mountain tops, Matterhorn, Titlis, Pilatus, etc. but have some limited mobility when it comes to walking up steps or inclines. Can anyone suggest a trip that would be best for me?

Posted by
5028 posts

These are serious mountains, they don't have steps up to the summit, this is proper mountaineering territory for professional climbers.

Posted by
59 posts

Yes, thank you, I am aware. I meant I would like to go via cable car/gondola. I don't plan on hiking.

Posted by
7547 posts

If you go to You Tube or the Rick Steves video section you will find that you can watch videos that show exactly what is involved in each of these trips. Yellow productions on you tube has detailed “how to” videos for several sights in Switzerland. Watch these and gauge for yourself if the activity level matches your abilities. My sense is that you could do several of them.

Posted by
8067 posts

Having just done Pilatus last month, I can tell you that you can get up to the top (restaurants, hotels, shops, etc) by gondola & cogwheel train. But if you want to access the upper viewing platforms, there are a ton of stairs.

Posted by
8889 posts

All the mountains the OP listed (Matterhorn, Titlis, Pilatus,) and many more have cable cars or mountain railways to the top. I think the question being asked is whether stairs are needed to access those.

I think the answer is "yes, there are stairs". In many cases the ride up is multiple cable cars, and from memory when you change cable cars the two cars are often on different levels in the same building, so stairs are involved. Also, when you get to the top, you exit onto the top of a mountain (obvious), i.e. a rocky uneven surface.

The question is, how many stairs can you manage (up or down), and are you OK on an uneven footing?

Another issue is the altitude. Air is thinner up there, thinner than in a pressurised arircraft. If you get out of breath at low altitudes, that will be more so.

For the Jungfrau, I found some info here:

Is the Jungfraujoch accessible for people in wheelchairs?
It is possible for wheelchair users to travel by rail to the Jungfraujoch Top of Europe. Reservation for groups is essential. Maximum 10 persons per group (max 3 wheelchairs per train composition). Please inform the railway personnel at the station of departure so that a member of staff is available to assist with changing trains at Kleine Scheidegg. The Jungfraujoch is also wheelchair accessible. The entrance to the Ice Palace is fitted with a stair lift.

I think that implies wheelchairs need lifting onto trains by staff, but if it is wheelchair accessable, it should be otherwise step-free.

For Pilatus I found this:

Posted by
193 posts

I might suggest a visit to the Schilthorn above the town of Murren in the Berner Oberland. You can stay in Lauterbrunnen in the valley (or my favorite, in Murren itself in a hotel near the cable car station there), take the postal bus to the cable car station in Stechelberg & go directly up to the top. The view on a nice day is spectacular (always check the weather before heading up any of the mountains). You will get the Swiss mountain top experience you are looking for!

Posted by
11294 posts

I can give you a tip about hotel locations.

While Lauterbrunnen is on the valley floor, my hotel there (Hotel Silberhorn) required walking up a steep incline to get to the front door, and then had no elevator inside, so I had to climb steps to my room. So, while the hotel itself is fine, it's not suitable for someone who has difficulty with steps and inclines.

On the other hand, while Mürren is up from the valley floor, it's pretty flat (not totally, of course). There is an elevator to the cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp, and then a flat transfer to the train from Grutschalp to Mürren. And while it seems you have to climb stairs to get out of the train station to town, you don't. If you go out the "back way" of the station (the way the train arrived from), you'll see an incline into town. Furthermore, my hotel (the Hotel Edelweiss) has an elevator, and while I didn't use it, they also seem to have a service vehicle that will meet you at the train and take your bags.

Short version: don't be dissuaded from staying in Mürren. Ironically, my Mürren hotel involved less climbing than my Lauterbrunnen hotel!

As for the rest of your question, I didn't actually get up the three peaks you asked about. Much of the Schilthorn will be accessible, as will the viewing platform at Birg. Mt Rigi will be accessible, but do be SURE to use take the boat to and from Vitznau, not Weggis. At Vitznau, there is only a slight incline getting from the boat to the train, and it's a short walk. At Weggis, it's a VERY steep incline down from the train to the boat dock (took my 10 minutes) and would be a brutally steep uphill walk (would take me at least 20 minutes).

Chris F is right - just how much you can do once you reach the top of a peak via train or cable car will depend on whether you can take a few steps or none at all. And do take seriously the point about having less energy and stamina high up. I wasn't so aware of it on top of the Schilthorn, but I was VERY aware of it at the Jungfraujoch.

Posted by
32051 posts


It would help to have some idea on how "limited" your mobility is? A few thoughts......

  • Pilatus: If you take the boat from Lucerne, you'll have a short distance to walk to reach the Pilatusbahn cogwheel rail. As I recall, there were a few steps to get up to the platform where you board the train. When you arrive at the top, everything is fairly level unless you want to climb to one of the vantage points and that will involve stairs. If you take the cable car down to Kriens, you'll have to transfer to a smaller gondola part way down, and that's level but requires a short walk. When you arrive at the bottom, there's a short downhill walk to get to the bus stop for the short ride back to Lucerne. If that might be a problem, call a cab when you arrive at the bottom terminal.
  • Schilthorn: Depending on where you stay, you should be able to do that with minimal steps. For example, if you stay in Lauterbrunnen, there are two routes to reach the Schilthornbahn. If you use the cable car to Grütschalp, there are stairs in the Lauterbrunnen station. I can't recall if there's a lift. You could also use the Post Bus to Stechelberg, and I vaguely recall there's an elevator to reach the cable car boarding platform. There will be three changes of cable cars to reach the Schilthorn (Gimmelwald, Mürren, Birg), but the walk between them is level and you shouldn't have any trouble with that. When you reach Piz Gloria, I recall there were elevators there too.
  • Jungfraujoch: If you stay in Lauterbrunnen, you'll first have to use the Wengernalpbahn to travel to Kleine Scheidegg, where you'll transfer to the Jungfraubahn. Except for the few stairs on the trains, that should be fairly easy. At the Jungfraujoch, there are stairs to go between level and I recall there being elevators too. There's definitely an elevator to travel up to the Sphinx Observatory. One minor point to mention regarding the Jungfraujoch is that it's at an elevation of almost 12,000 feet so if you suffer from any altitude-related issues, that could be a problem. You'll probably find that you're moving a bit slower there. Also if you're unsteady on your feet, you may want to avoid those parts where you'll be walking on ice.

Good luck!

Posted by
18468 posts

I don't think there is any access to the top of the Matterhorn, although I have heard you can just about climb it on the thousands of pitons driven into rock face. But you can get a nice up-close view from Trockner Steg in clear weather, which does has a cable car to it.

Posted by
8067 posts

Re: Matterhorn. I was just there once and it was a long time ago, but in my memory, the view of the Matterhorn, was more interesting than from the Matterhorn. That is, the view of the M-horn from the Rothorn was spectacular - the postcard shot. Maybe someone can confirm whether that trip requires stairs after the gondola up.

Posted by
850 posts

Don't forget the Zugspitz. You can do that pretty easily.