The summits of the Jungfraujoch continue to make you dream and are revealed a little more in this article on Switzerland, a country located in the heart of Europe and whose beauty of these landscapes and the kindness of these inhabitants are well established.
t is cold. As soon as you step outside, the cold air begins to be felt. The wind rushes into the clothes through the smallest opening to freeze the soul. A badly put T-shirt does not forgive. A few more minutes are enough to numb the fingers, which must be constantly reheated by frantically clapping your hands. Even the jeans begin to stiffen in gusts of wind and a thin white film forms on all of the clothes.
There is no escape all up there. The gusts of wind sweep the snow until it completely covers the surrounding peaks. Like in the middle of a snowstorm. Visibility is almost zero. One more step and this could be the last. Then the sun reappears and warms up a little the only beings who had the courage so high. It’s minus eighteen degrees at the top of Europe.
In front of us lies an almost immaculate white ocean, punctuated by brown reliefs similar to reefs in a rough sea. The gusts raise tornadoes of snow like the foam of the waves during a storm. However, everything seems calm and peaceful after these mood swings in nature. An irresistible feeling of wanting to meet this monochrome immensity appears in us, to be the first to tread this place which seems so far from any human presence and which man has not yet managed to tame. A virgin place that we would like to discover. At times, the field of vision is disturbed by small black balls floating in the sky. Even at this altitude of over three thousand seven hundred meters, life is present. The closer the balls get, the more we understand that these are birds flying at the whim of the gusts.
At the top of the Alps
Return to reality when a group of Chinese tourists is heard on the catwalk. The end of a little moment of reverie where everything seemed possible and where the mind was navigating among the dreams and stories of adventurers. Outside, the Sphinx Observatory walkway that clings to the top of the pass provides visitors with an almost 270-degree view of the entire Jungfraujoch region.
On the one hand, the famous Aletsch Glacier, a World Heritage Site, which was the source of a campaign by the American photographer Spencer Tunick and Greenpeace. During this event, more than six hundred people posed naked in front of the glacier to denounce global warming. All around the Aletsch Glacier are peaks over four thousand meters like the Eiger, the Jungfrau or the Mönch, on the border of the Canton of Bern and the Valais. On the other, the splendid valley where Grindelwald is located and some small villages. Unfortunately, clouds rising along the mountains often obstruct the view.
It was not until 1862 that two experienced mountaineering teams started from Grindelwald and reached the summits surrounding the Aletsch Glacier. Thirty years later, construction of the train would begin to reach the Jungfraujoch pass and its station, still considered today to be the highest in Europe. This crazy project for the time was imagined by Adolf Guyer-Zeller, an industrialist from the Zurich region. Despite several years of delay due to numerous accidents and financial problems, he succeeded and finished the tunnel under the Eiger and Mönch in 1912.
Since then, the Jungfraujoch station has become an unmissable place in the region and its renown is undeniable. It is connected to several buildings and platforms that tourists can visit. The most impressive place is undoubtedly at the top of the Sphinx Observatory. It is one of the tallest astronomical observatories in the world and is directly accessible from the station by an elevator. The bravest can also explore the surroundings from one of the station exits, including the rocky platform on which are installed several pillars where the Swiss flag proudly flies and all the measuring instruments necessary for meteorology.
Being in the middle of the snow, surrounded by huge peaks is impressive and gives the feeling of being only a dust in front of this spectacular and terrifying nature at the same time. In summer, when the temperatures are much milder, it is possible to leave the Jungfraujoch to make a trek to reach certain refuges located further along the Aletsch glacier.
The train, gateway to the Jungfraujoch
After over an hour of getting up close to the mountains, it’s time to head back down to Interlaken. With an exceptional rail network, it is very easy to get from one destination to another by train and bus, provided you can pay a certain amount. Switzerland is one of the safest countries, even if for many Swiss this situation is gradually deteriorating. Above all, Switzerland can boast of not having been at war for more than 10 years (like Japan, Qatar, Panama, etc.).
But above all it is a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world. The two main cities of Switzerland, namely Zurich and Geneva, often come up in the ranking of the most expensive cities in the world. No wonder it costs more than two hundred Swiss francs to travel to the top of Europe. Nor is it surprising that the vast majority of tourists visiting the Jungfraujoch are local Swiss or Asian tourists, the majority of whom are Chinese. Chinese tourists spend only a few days in Switzerland and the Jungfraujoch remains an essential destination for these organized trips.
A change of train at Kleine Scheidegg station and off we went in the direction of Grindelwald. The train slowly descends the hill, making its dream landscape like a film scroll past the large picture windows on the train. On the surrounding mountains, the sun also sets, projecting the last rays of the day. But a part of us seems to have stayed up there, in the mountains and snow-capped peaks, in the company of birds that flutter at the whim of gusts. No doubt they are the only ones who can supplant the power of the mountain.