2017-09-11

Bernese Highlands

My good childhood friend and best man of our wedding, Thomas, was visiting from Hamburg for a few days. We wanted to climb some mountains, but it was raining continuously all over the alps. So we spent the first couple of days working our way through our board game collection and enjoying some hygge time in good company.

Thomas in front of the iconic Eiger North Face.
Just below our high point after turning around. It got quite cold and miserable.
The normal route down from the summit is already covered in snow.

We finally left for the Bernese Highlands on Monday with the intention of climbing the Schwarzhoren (2928m) via the via ferrata. I've turned back on this mountain before because we got stuck in too much snow. This time we made it all the way up to the start of the via ferrata at about 2500m altitude but retreated again. The weather was turning on us with the summit hiding in dense clouds and a forecast of rain and snow.

Hotel Rosenlaui.

We follow first the marmot and then the romantic trail into the beautiful Haslital to stay in the rustic Rosenlaui hotel. Only marginally more expensive than an SAC hut, this hotel has been frozen in time and still features the original interior of a 1779 grand hotel. At a time before tourism in the alps was a thing this hotel must have been vanguard and pioneering new trends. Now it feels like entering a time machine into the past. With a four course dinner on proper silverware and table cloth. Extremely cool.

The hotel doesn't want pictures taken in the fancy dining room, so the much less picturesque breakfast room will have to do.
Morning.
Spooky atmosphere with ancient maple trees in the fog.

We head up towards the Grindelgrat in the morning. It's raining again so we decide to forgo the summit and just traverse towards the Grosse Scheidegg and back down towards our car which we parked in Grindelwald. There's a helicopter perched on a small outcrop of the trail. At first I take it for a rescue operation but it turns out to be equipped with expensive camera gear and part of a film shoot of some kind. A few hundred meters on we meet the rest of the film crew. They've set up in a creek and an animal trainer is making an eagle fly maneuvers in front of the cameras. With all the catering and support vans it's quite a large group. Curious.

The less than perfect weather made this part of the hike one of the most beautiful and memorable of the entire trip.
Thomas on the Romantic Trail.
Watching the rain and fuelling up on calories.

Two days, no summits, lots of rain, great accommodation in style and ~40km and 2800m of hiking. Not quite what we had planned but still a great visit and good to catch up with an old friend. That's one thing about being an expat - while I'm super happy with the community we've found here and friends we've made, there's still a difference between a friend of 5 years and one of nearly 30.

Occasionally the rain turned to snow.
Grosse Scheidegg to the left.
The village of Grindelwald.
I'm no pilot, but this doesn't look like the easiest landing spot to me. Even the bus driver stopped on the nearby road to get out of the bus and take a picture. Nevermind all the passengers waiting.
Part of the film crew.
Wet limestone glittering in the sun.
Our route. With a bit of imagination it might be an infinity symbol, no?