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A Single Stop for Swiss Pass


Alps Views and Eiger Windows

Jungfraujoh Sphinnx Observation PlatformThe Jungfrau, the Mönch and Eiger are three Alps peaks joined into one solid mountain ridge massif which divides the Bernese Oberland Alps from the southern range. The Eiger is perhaps the most famous of the mountains, known for its treacherous North Face for mountain climbers. This mountain is also famous for its windows, looking out on the permanent snows clinging to the steep crags. The windows of the Eiger are remnants of the building of the Jungfrau railway to the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe. Conceived by German engineer and visionary Adolf Guyer-Zeller, the Jungfrau Bahn Railway was begun in 1894 and completed in 1912. The rack rail line for most of its entire length, except for a distance from the Klein Sheidegg station, runs inside the mountain, tunneling mostly through the Mönch and Eiger mountains, before reaching its terminus below the “saddle” or “joch” between the peaks, with the weather station, restaurant and observation building above called “The Sphinx”. The Jungfraujoch rail station is inside the rock.

Eiger Moountain Windows EismeerAs the train travels through the tunnels of rock, a movie plays on screens, telling the story of the ingenious railway, its construction and details about climbers on the Eiger and about the Aletsch Glacier which cloaks the mountain crags. Visitors may be familiar with the windows in the Eiger mountain, made famous in the “Eiger Sanction” film with Clint Eastwood. The train used to stop here, but to save time with new trains, the route now only stops at the more dramatic Eismeer station looking out on the high crags covered in ice, for five minutes visitors can disembark for to peer out the side of the sheer face of a mountain. The windows are remants of the construction tunnels.

Viewpoint Stop Jungfraubahn  EigerAt the Jungfraujoch station are a few activities to entertain visitors. The view deck of metal overhanging the edges of the building below the Sphinx Observatory Dome look out across the glacial ice to the long mountain valleys crowded with jagged peaks. Depending on the weather, you’ll stay her for a long or short time. When the sun is out, there is perhaps few more impressive mountain views, when the very changeable weather is bad, it can be a daunting experience outside. Behind the outdoor deck are full view windows incase outdoors is not the best idea.

There is a restaurant and a snack bar to while away some time, along with a souvenir shop and a little history corner with a model of the first rack railway trains which climbed through the mountain. Underneath the Sphinx and the station, an elevator ride down into the perpetual cool is the Ice Palace, a cavern carved from the ice of the glacier. Tunnels of glistening ice and sculptures fill the cavity, even sometimes a stairway into an upper chamber, lit by colored light in a translucent iridescence. Since this is glacial ice, it needs to be re-carved from time to time, so it’s never exactly the same if you go back again.

Junfraujoch Ice PalacePrepare for a minimum of at least 3 hours for a trip to the Jungfraujoch starting from Interlaken Ost station and return. A good half day is more leisurely, if you have lunch. If you want to make other stops in Grindelwald or Kleine Sheidegg, allow more time. If the weather allows for venturing out onto the outdoor trail of the Walking Plateau for the best views back toward the Sphinx. There is not a lot of hiking otherwise and no skiing or sporting center. The air is a bit thin at the 11,330 ft. altitude (not quite as high as the Klein Matterhorn on the southern range). The elderly and breathing impaired should take note.

A ticket for the Jungfraujoch Railway trip includes the connections needed from Interlaken and you can take one of two routes on the way up via Grindelwald, or through Lauterbrunnen. It is possible to take one direction up and the other on the way down. With a Swiss Pass or other Eurail Pass the Jungfraujoch offers a price discounted by 25%.

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