Via Ferrata Mürren – Gimmelwald: An ultimate Alpine traverse through the “iron path”

9 April, 2021 | Reccy Guide

The Via Ferrata linking Mürren and Gimmelwald (also know as Iron path) is every thrill-seeker’s dream. Traversing this mountainous route provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk among the clouds that grace the Bernese Alps and offers a bird’s eye view of the richly colored valley surrounding the tiny, cliff-set village of Gimmelwald. 

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Your journey begins in the town of Interlaken, a springboard for adventure nestled between Lakes Thun and Brienz in central Switzerland. This small, German-speaking town is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts; the Via Ferrata is accessible from June 1 to October 31, and it’s accompanied by many possibilities for summer fun. Opportunities abound to travel across the local lakes, rappel down nearby waterfalls, or spelunk through massive caves. 

But when you’re ready for the main attraction, book a train ticket out of town and head for Mürren. Make sure to dress appropriately; you’ll need a day backpack to carry any cameras, water, or snacks you intend to bring. Although the Via Ferrata is only open during summer and early fall, the altitude of the hike calls for a backup jacket, in addition to sturdy hiking shoes and long pants. 

view of an exposed faceVia Ferrata Mürren – Gimmelwald, exposed but safe

Once you board the train, you’ll ride through lush Swiss scenery until you reach Lauterbrunnen. Transfer to a local bus for a short ride to Gimmelwald, where a cable car will then whisk you up to the starting point of the Via Ferrata. Though it can take close to 2 hours to reach Mürren, the hike that awaits is worth every second.

You’ll stop and obtain the necessary gear before beginning the hike, including a helmet, climbing harness and lanyard to hook you to the cable that runs the entire length of the Via Ferrata. Once everything is secure, you can begin the phenomenal 2.2km descent. 

Though the hike itself is labelled “easy,” there’s no shortage of jaw-dropping views as you negotiate the rock face and climb along steel steps drilled into the mountainside. These open-ring steps provide a clear view to the Lauterbrunnen Valley surrounding Gimmelwald – 1800 meters below. Beyond the gorge, the snow-capped Bernese Alps provide a stunning, 4000-meter-tall backdrop for your hike. 

Traversing exposed sectionsVia Ferrata Mürren – Gimmelwald, a thrilling traverse

Expect to see base jumpers and hang gliders dotting the sky and soaring on the crisp mountain air as you travel. Continuing the hike, you’ll encounter more steps and built-in ladders aid your rapid descent, until you reach the first of two bridges. To navigate the Tyrolean Traverse, you’ll need to walk across a tight rope strung between the walls of a small canyon. Don’t worry – your harness will be safely attached to a wire, but you’ll have nothing but the singular rope underfoot, forcing you to balance carefully. Afterward, you’ll discover the Nepal Bridge: an 80-meter-long, shoulder-width suspension bridge. This bridge is one of many opportunities for a perfect, action shot photograph. 

During the roughly 3-hour long hike, you’ll descend over 300 meters and finish back in Gimmelwald. From here, you have a couple options. If you’re not ready to head back to Interlaken, consider strolling through this quiet town set on a cliff. You might see the village residents scything hay by hand, or you can walk up to the local hostel and find fellow travelers. 

When you’re ready for a bite to eat (and some more spectacular views), ride a cable car up to the 3000-meter-tall Schilthorn Peak and enter Piz Gloria. This local restaurant was featured in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and slowly rotates 360 degrees, allowing diners the opportunity to absorb the grandeur of the surrounding landscape. Stay for 45 minutes to complete the full circuit.

Once you’ve arrived back in Interlaken, even more adventures await. Consider taking a train from the Interlaken Ost station and visiting Jungfraujoch saddle, the highest built train station in Europe. Below, you’ll see the UNESCO World Heritage Property of Jungfrau, which features wintry views and the famous Aletsch Glacier.

Lastly, make sure to check out the ruins of Weissenau Castle, the seat of Interlaken’s long history. It was initially founded in the 1200s as a monastery but has been fought over by different religious groups through the ages. Today, you’ll find the remnants of the castle residence, tower, and curtain wall intertwined with the overgrown greenery. 

Whatever your level of experience with hiking, a trip along the Via Ferrata is sure to please and give you an up-close look at the Alps, without having to brave the extreme cold. This adventure is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, movie buffs, and anyone looking to broaden their horizons and see what this charming area of Switzerland has to offer.

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