Kleine Scheidegg
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Above Wengen, the train line curls over the Wengernalp, breaking through the tree line before arriving at KLEINE SCHEIDEGG (2061m) – four buildings huddled in the most dramatic of locations directly below the soaring North Face of the Eiger (www.eiger-live.ch), a sheer wall of rock 2300m high. The settlement (it doesn’t even count as a hamlet) throngs with daytime crowds switching trains for the Jungfraujoch, but sees virtually nobody staying overnight, although the “Good Morning” return to Jungfraujoch from here is a moderate Fr.58 (first train 8am), a significant saving on the full fare. Kleine Scheidegg is also the terminus for trains arriving from Grindelwald, over the hill to the east.

The station buffet (033/855 11 51, fax 855 11 52; a) has spartan, comfortable dorms (Fr.38) and rooms, while the grand old Scheidegg Hotel – the two large chalets beside the station, focus of the Clint Eastwood film The Eiger Sanction (033/855 12 12, fax 855 12 94; d–e; closed Easter–June & Oct–Dec) – has historically been the base station for worried relatives scanning the Eiger wall to track the progress of loved ones engaged in what’s become known as one of the most difficult mountaineering ascents in the world. The hotel decor, all chintzy pelmets, wood panelling and armchairs by the fire, is from another world, and is an odd counterpoint to the muddy-boot hiking fraternity who tramp the area. Within view behind the hotel is the Grindelwaldblick (033/855 13 74, fax 855 42 05; Fr.35), a serviceable restaurant with dorms.

Kleine Scheidegg is the trailhead for a wealth of high-country walks. Hikes down to Wengen (roughly 2hr) or Grindelwald (roughly 4hr), or up the “back” of the nearby Lauberhorn (1hr), are relatively easy-going. There’s also a tougher one-hour trail up to Eigergletscher train station (2320m), overlooking the massive sheet of ice sliding down from the high peaks. In the other direction, a picturesque route to Männlichen, perched on a ridge and with one of the best mountain refuges in the region (033/853 10 68, fax 853 35 32; Fr.35), is particularly lovely (1hr 30min) and virtually flat the whole way. The Männlichen–Wengen cable-car suffered avalanche damage in 1999 and is under repair at the time of writing; instead, take the amazing half-hour gondola ride in the other direction to Grindelwald-Grund (InterRailers pay half price), and either hike back to Kleine Scheidegg (3hr 50min) or take the train.

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