In the days following the body bruising punishment I had taken racing in The Megavalanche in Alpe D’Huez, I needed time to recover at the same time as keeping the spirit of The Alpine Challenge alive and on track. My first destination after the race was close by, just across the valley at Les Deux Alpes.
Home of one of the highest glacier summer ski areas in Europe and with summer skiing high on my bucket list it was a perfect opportunity to tick that box before heading onwards into Switzerland and to Lauterbrunnen.
My journey took me around the shores of Lake Geneva before heading east. The road up to Lauterbrunnen from Interlaken has to be one of the most spectacular village arrivals in Europe. Cresting the final brow the village stretches out in front of you and the view is dominated by the 600 metre high waterfall cascading from the sheer cliffs which rise above the village. It was breath taking and I couldn’t wait for the next day to explore further.
I based myself at Camping Jungfrau on the edge of the village. This was a superb location for gentle cycle rides along the valley as well as being near to the railway station, essential for the only access possible to the Jungfraujoch Glacier high above, the main focus for my exploration.
An incredible 90 minute railway journey from Lauterbrunnen via Wengen takes you to the top station at Jungfraujoch, the location for James Bond’s adventures in the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. From Wengen the train continues up and past the North Wall of the Eiger before entering the steep tunnel through the middle of the mountain to arrive at Jungfraujoch, ‘The Top of Europe’.
The tourist centre is full of hustle and bustle, but I would soon leave this behind and begin the hike on the well-marked trail across the glacier to reach the climbers refuge at the Monchsjochhutte at 3657 metres, 11998 feet, above sea level.
Very quickly I was alone on the glacier surrounded by views into infinity of the towering Alpine peaks. The lack of oxygen at this altitude made the climb tough going but I pressed on and after an hour I reached the refuge hut, the highest café in Europe. It was getting quite late in the day but I just had time for a quick bowl of scrumptious goulash soup before thinking about the return leg.
Apart from myself, one other, Chris from the USA, was also about to descend so we teamed up together to have both company and for security as the temperature was falling rapidly, it was 3.30pm. The descent was less arduous and we made it back to the Jungfraujoch station fairly quickly before returning to Lauterbrunnen on the train.
That evening I reflected on the day and the amazing scale of nature at it’s best. Such a different experience to racing my bike, but equally enthralling.
Next time on The Alpine Challenge I become my own ‘Dreamer’ in my campervan crossing the Stelvio Pass on a road journey not for the faint hearted.
Do you have memories that you'd like to share with us? Click here and be a Passenger of this Minivan.