All Aboard the Eiger Express – Grindelwald, Switzerland

By Petra Shepherd

It’s been two years since I clipped on a pair of skis and experienced the adrenalin rush of gliding down a freshly groomed piste and to say I’ve missed it, is an understatement.

It was to the picture postcard pretty Swiss village of Grindelwald, at the foot of the Eiger’s North Face that I headed for my snow fix and to experience the newly opened Eiger Express, the most modern tricable gondola in the world.

Although The Eiger Express officially opened last year, I was one of the first international visitors to take the journey from the Grindelwald terminal to the Eiger Glacier station and the renowned ski area of the Jungfrau region.

The journey in 26-seat cabins with seat and window heating takes 15 minutes (cutting the previous journey time by 47 minutes) with views along the way of the world-famous north face of the Eiger.

Once at the Eiger Glacier, you can strap on your skis directly or change at the new station to the Jungfrau Railway to the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. 

It goes without saying that it’s an engineering marvel but what most impressed me were the individual slots, opposite each seat to hold your skis, no more hurriedly struggling to slot your skis into the ski racks normally found outside a gondola, desperately hoping that the door wouldn’t shut in the meantime and then at your destination mistakenly taking the wrong pair of skis – or maybe I’m the only one who’s done this! 

The new Grindelwald Terminal is also state-of-the-art, think sophisticated airport terminal, with a shopping centre with top international brands, quality Swiss products, a Covid-19 test centre, sport shop and even ski cleaning facilities and like the best airport terminals an exclusive lounge, The Platinum Club.  The Platinum Club offers all manner of VIP services including free drinks and snacks.  Tiresome ski lugging is also a thing of the past, you can conveniently rent your own ski locker for the day, for the season or for the whole year. 

It was wonderful to be back in the mountains and I had high hopes for the slopes. After exiting the Eiger Express, I skied the classic ski area of Keline Scheidegg-Mannlichen with 102 km of slopes at the foot of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.

It was wonderful to be back in the mountains and I had high hopes for the slopes. After exiting the Eiger Express, I skied the classic ski area of Keline Scheidegg-Mannlichen with 102 km of slopes at the foot of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau.

Pointing my skis down the slope, surrendering myself to gravity for turn after scintillating turn with the impressive mountain panorama (some say it’s the most beautiful in the world) was not only a great way of getting my ski legs back but good for the soul as well.

The ski area is also home to the world-famous Lauberhorn downhill which was taking place the weekend after my visit.

On day two it was time to ski in the area Grindelwald-First with 50 km of slopes, perfect for intermediate skiers and most importantly for a sun worshipper like myself, the long runs face the sun which didn’t stop shining for the duration of my stay. Grindelwald first is home to a whole host of activities to suit every generation.

Directly next to the First summit station is the spectacular “First Cliff Walk by Tissot” summit attraction.

The circular walk leads along the steep cliff face on the western side of the First summit and the summit station.

It consists of a cliff-side walkway, a unique single-cable hanging bridge and ends with a 45 m long footbridge that take you out over the abyss with a breath-taking view. The path, suitable for all ages, is open year-round and is guaranteed to thrill.

With the Eiger mountain as a backdrop, you’re never far from a photo opportunity in the Jungfrau but the Cliff Walk platform is the ultimate selfie spot.

Have you ever fancied yourself as an eagle (no, me neither) but thanks to the Tyrolean “First Flyer” you can now compete with the fastest birds.

Perfectly secured in a stable harness, up to 4 people whizz along an 800 metre long steel cable from First to Schreckfeld.

To begin with, the First Flider is pulled backwards from Schreckfeld toward First at 72 km/h. It’s on the way back that the eagle really soars, gliding the 800-metre-long flight route at up to 83 km/h.

It’s not as scary as it sounds and makes for a fun although somewhat bizarre photo opportunity. My 10 and 8 year-old nephews in Australia were suitably impressed.

The First Flyer is another activity for thrill seekers of all ages with visitors seated in securely constructed harnesses, basically an enormous zip-wire and a one-of-a-kind attraction Europe.

I can now add sledging (or as our group debated, should it be tobogganing) to the list of sports I’m never going to win an Olympic medal at but a morning enjoying the Jungfrau Eiger run was yet another activity to be enjoyed by the young and young at heart. The highlight being the high alpine surroundings with the unique views of the rock and ice masses of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. It’s an activity best avoided by those with back problems and risk averse sissy’s like myself, can always use their feet to break, more often than I probably should and get up and walk. For the more adventurous it’s a real thrill thanks to the gradient of up to 36 per cent.

There’s plenty going on in Grindelwald for non-skiers including The World Snow Festival, an annual celebration of ice-cold art, where international artists design figures and sculptures out of metre-high blocks of snow. The festival takes place every January with this year the theme being perhaps a little obvious “mountain”. The event started in 1983 with a gigantic Heidi sculpture.

If this all seems a little sedate and you really want to get down with the kids, the fabulously named Snowpenair music festival, a two-day music event relocated to the new terminal station takes place on 26th and 27th March.

After a morning’s skiing, your stomach will probably be growling a bit and there’s a multitude of mountain restaurant to sit outside and enjoy a swiss rosti, a traditional dish of fried grated potatoes often topped with a fried egg, bacon or cheese and admire the views.

My home for my brief stay was the centrally located (two minutes from the train station) historic Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof, beautifully-furnished in an attractive Alpine style where I was pampered with a rich buffet breakfast and a lavish four course evening meal served up by the Michelin featured kitchen. There’s also a swimming pool and a spa.

Skiers everywhere are hungry to hit the slopes and having missed an entire Winter season, Grindelwald didn’t disappoint. With the exceptional snow conditions and wall to wall sunshine, it was difficult to leave but after the couple of years we’ve just had, skiing down the Jungfrau region’s crowd free slopes admiring the unrivalled views was just the kind of freedom I needed.


For further information visit https://jungfrauregion.swiss/en/winter and https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/

Petra Shepherd travelled to Switzerland with https://www.swiss.com/gb/en/homepage

For travel within Switzerland visit https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/planning/transport-accommodation/tickets-public-transport/

For travel to the Jungfrau region, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Inghams Lakes & Mountains

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Petra Shepherd

Editor of Silver Travel Book Club & Cook Club

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