Introduction to Grindelwald – a thrill-seekers guide
In the famous Jungfrau ski area, Grindelwald is linked to the resorts of Wengen and Murren in a ski area totalling over 210kms. And with the the infamous Eiger mountain as the stage backdrop to the pretty village, it’s hardly surprising that Grindelwald rubs shoulders with resorts like Zermatt and Chamonix as the ‘Best of the Alps’ mountain resorts. Grindelwald’s stunning beauty and fresh mountain air has been attracting tourists for over 100 years (in fact the Jungfrau mountain railway through the Eiger mountain to the ‘Top of Europe’ will be celebrating its centenary in summer 2012). But along with the chocolate box style chalets and relaxing spas that you could be enjoying one hour, the next you could find yourself taking part in some of the ultimate adrenaline fixes to be found anywhere in the world.
Here’s our thrill-seekers guide to Grindelwald – just in case the fantastic skiing and snowboarding isn’t enough for you…
First things First – Grindelwald’s unique zip-lining experience
Why not try the (relatively!) tame First Flyer – speeding through the air at a mere 80km per hour, you are slung an a harness similar to that worn by a paraglider, flying down an 800m long cable, suspended up to 50m off the ground. 4 gigantic zip lines run parallel, so you can set off down the hill with your friends. The First Flyer is located above Grindelwald at First.
Drop from a helicopter on a powder seeking mission
Of course, there is also heli-skiing available, with a helicopter based down on the lake at Interlaken. Starting at around 300 Swiss Francs per person, it’s not cheap, but heli-ski advocates will tell you that the experience is priceless. And there is plenty to choose from in Grindelwald, with a number of itineraries available, including the ski areas of Rosenegg, Ebnefluh and Petersgrat. Contact the local tourist office for details of heli-skiing companies.
Old school fun on a toboggan
If you want to remain with your feet firmly on the ground, then there are several activities on offer that don’t require clearance to take off. Ditch your skis for an afternoon and take to a toboggan – Grindelwald, like most Swiss resorts, has excellent designated toboggan runs. There is an 8km run from Bussalp down to the village, as well as a 4.5km ‘speed’ run from Bussalp down to Weidli. Traditional metal or wooden toboggans are the order of the day, and if you haven’t tried it, as an experienced skier I can certainly say it’s as exhilarating as a ski run can be. It’s also great for non-skiers too, and there are plenty of restaurants to stop for a hot chocolate to warm up again on the way down – highly recommended if you are taking to the toboggan run at night, possible on the Bussalp.
Throwing yourself down the north face of the Eiger
For the ultimate adrenaline junkies, there are various methods of throwing yourself down the north face of the Eiger into the valley below. Base jumpers, paragliders, and freefall parachuting are just a few. Last winter, Ski Sunday presenter Ed Leigh, along with the Royle Family’s Ralph Little both made a tandem skydive from a helicopter above the peak of the Eiger in a bid to beat ex-Olympic skier Graham Bell down to the valley below. The expressions in the video below say it all. Braver men than us!
What’s new in Grindelwald for 2011-12
- 13-15th January 2012 is the World famous Lauberhorn race weekend in the neighbouring resort of Wengen. The 82nd annual Lauberhorn races attracts thousands of specators from all over the world. And every Thursday throughout February and March, the ‘legend of the Lauberhorn’ can be discovered on an excursion arranged by the local tourist office, where the organisers of the race will tell the stories from Lauberhorn and explain how skiing legends like Bode Miller and Didier Défago tackle the course. The Lauberhorn consists of slalom races, and the punishing downhill for which it has become famous. For more information www.wengen.ch
- 16-21 January 2012 is World Snow Festival in Grindelwald and features a snow sculpture contest. Launched in 1983, when a giant ‘Heidi’ was carved into the snow by a Japanese artist, now sculptors from all over globe converge on the ice rink to create magical designs. For more information www.grindelwald.ch
- Capacity has been increased on the First gondola by 50% for last winter season. A six-man chair has also replaced the the Salzegg drag up to Eigergletscher.
- The 15th SnowpenAir at Kleine Scheidegg will be on 31 March 2012. In last year’s event, James Blunt performed, crowd surfing his way over the 14,000 strong fans that came to watch the concert. The open-air concert is held at 2061m with the Eiger as the ‘stage backdrop’. For more information on the line-up as it’s released, see www.jungfrau.ch
- And if you’re there for the end of the season, check out Grindelwald answer to the ‘slush parties’ that are popular over the pond in North America. The waterslide race at First takes place on 7th April 2012, where a pool of freezing cold water is dug out of the slope, and the brave and/or foolish race down the slope in tarpauline bags to see who can get the further distance. For more information see www.jungfrau.ch
Where to stay – our top three suggestions
1 – Hotel Derby – next to the railway station in the heart of Grindelwald with special offers for families, this hotel has guests returning year after year. And with holidays starting from just £595 per person, it’s easy to see why.
2 – Hotel Sunstar – adjacent to the gondola and kitted out with a pool and spa to relax for some relaxation after an adrenaline packed day, this hotel offers exceptional service
3 – Finest Hotel Schweizerhof – which is new to Crystal Finest this winter and just 5 minutes from the centre of resort, with a handy shuttle bus to and from the ski lifts. With an indoor pool, highly recommended cuisine served up in 6 course evening meals, this is the ideal place to indulge yourself.
Save on Switzerland ski holidays with Crystal Ski
There are currently a great offer on ski holidays to Switzerland with Crystal Ski, saving on the cost of your lift passes:
- Buy 1 lift pass, get 1 free on local lift passes when staying in any of Crystal Ski’s Grindelwald hotels saving up to £216 per couple. Passes can be upgraded to area passes in resort.
- Full terms and conditions
This post was written by Amy Fletcher, Online Content Executive at Crystal Ski