Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch is a notable saddle in the Bernese Alps, connecting the two four-thousander peaks Jungfrau and Mönch, at an elevation of 3,466 metres (11,371 ft) above sea level. It is a glacier saddle, on the upper snows of the Aletsch Glacier, and part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area, situated on the boundary between the cantons of Bern and Valais, halfway between Interlaken and Fiesch. Since 1912, the Jungfraujoch has been accessible to tourists by the Jungfrau line, a railway from Interlaken and Kleine Scheidegg, running partly underground through a tunnel through the Eiger and Mönch. The Jungfraujoch railway station, at an elevation of 3,454 metres (11,332 ft) is the highest in Europe. It lies east of the saddle, below the Sphinx station, and is connected to the Top of Europe building, which includes several panoramic restaurants and a post office. Several tunnels lead outside, where secured hiking trails on the crevassed glacier can be followed, in particular to the Mönchsjoch Hut. The Sphinx Observatory, one of the highest astronomical observatories in the world, provides an additional viewing platform at a height of 3,572 metres (11,719 ft). It can be reached by an elevator from the Jungfraujoch. The observatory houses one of the Global Atmosphere Watch’s atmospheric research stations. The Jungfraujoch radio relay station, which is not accessible to the public, is installed west of the Jungfraujoch, on the Jungfrau ridge. It is Europe’s highest radio relay station.

History: There is a tradition in the Bernese Oberland, supported by some documentary evidence, that a pass existed between Grindelwald and Fiesch in Valais in the late medieval period, later lost to the advancing glaciers. With the early development of tourism in Switzerland and the exploration of the High Alps in the 19th century, there were once again attempts to traverse the great ridge that encloses the head of the Aletsch Glacier and connecting the Eggishorn with Grindelwald and Wengernalp. Four such routes were found, with the Jungfraujoch and the Eigerjoch being among the most difficult passes in the Alps.

Adolf Guyer-Zeller First thought of the idea of a tunnel in 1893, and at that point, he had planned to have 7 stations inside the tunnel before reaching the peak of the Sphinx. The building of the tunnel started on July 27, 1896, and took 16 years to complete. The construction phase was troubled by many problems including monetary shortages, inclement weather and mounting deaths due to construction accidents. The worst accident occurred in 1908 when 30 tonnes of dynamite accidentally exploded. When construction finally finished, the railway reached only to the height of the Jungfraujoch saddle, rather than the summit of the Sphinx, and had only two intermediate stations. However, even in its current state, the Jungfraubahn is a significant achievement in engineering and construction, still holding the title for the highest railway in Europe.

*(All the above information are from Wikipedia.)

Transport:

Rail: The railway is the only mode of transport to this place. The train into the mountain leaves from Kleine Scheidegg, which can be reached by trains from Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen. The train enters the tunnel running eastward through the Eiger shortly after leaving Kleine Scheidegg. It runs close to the Eiger’s north face, stopping at Eigerwand, where there is a window about 8 m long and a metre high, halfway up the face. The windows have been placed in holes used to remove excavated rock from the tunnel during construction, and are also occasionally used as access points, by climbers, and also rescue parties.  There one can get off the train to admire the view before the train continues five minutes later. The tunnel then turns west, heading towards the Jungfrau. There is a second stop at a window looking out on the Eismeer (“Sea of Ice”) before the train continues to the Jungfraujoch. The journey from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch takes approximately 50 minutes including the stops at Eigerwand and Eismeer; the downhill return journey taking only 35 minutes.

Tourist Interest: This one-stop destination has an ample of attractions in itself. It has numerous tunnels leading to Alpine Trail, Ice Museum, Lindt Chocolate Heaven, numerous restaurants the Sphinx Observatory and much more. The elevator takes you to every destination and also to the top of ‘top of Europe’ building.

Tour Planner: As this is a spot for a day trip. One can make a base at any place like Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen or some other town nearby. From there one can take the rail to reach this destination for a day trip.

Read my experience in Jungfraujoch.

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