Page 36 - 2016 AMA Autumn
P. 36

                                     location review
Article and photos by Al Topping
If you’re anything like my, given the infinite array of opportunities available to go climbing, hiking and or mountaineering, having the ideas in the first places is the greatest obstacle. Therefore, in
this new series of articles, I thought I’d add my own experiences following a recent family excursion to Switzerland and more specifi- cally, the Grindelwald valley, just south of Interlaken.
The area around Interlaken has a wealth of opportunity to be exploited. Vast mountain panoramas, an abundance of well labelled and varied mountain trekking options and, of course, imposing snow capped mountain giants with even greater reputations, for instance: the Eiger.
The aim of this trip was not to recce a potential area for a future expedition, however, upon arrival it became obvious that the area is littered with opportunity.
Irrespective of what activity you are looking to partake, whether it is for a personal holiday or a military exped the planning elements are going to be pretty similar. Grindelwald offers sport rock climbing, summer and winter mountaineering, mountain biking and paragliding. Given the popularity of the area to tourists, there is a wealth of information on the internet for finding specific objectives to meet your expedition’s aims. My suggestions are based around where I travelled at the time.
If you are driving down to Switzerland from the UK, then Google Maps will tell you that the drive is around 10 hours beyond Calais. Depending on your appetite for French toll roads this may require additional hours to circumnavigate Reims, perhaps making your way through Belgium instead.
On arrival at the Swiss border, there is a CHF 40 / 40 Euro charge for use of the roads (based on 3 people driving a small van into the country). We were less prepared for this, having not originally planned to go to Switzerland at all (and in no way had forgotten that Switzerland has its own currency!) Interlaken is then approxi- mately an hour or so from the boarder at Bern.
If you plan to fly, then flights land regularly in Zurich and takes approximately 2 hours on excellent Swiss trains to the Interlaken region.
Once in the Grindelwald valley, a vehicle will help you to get some more remote climbing areas but is by no means absolutely necessary. We parked up at our campsite and left it there for a majority of our time there in favour of walking and using the excellent train system that runs up and down the valley. Be warned though, that the cost of trains can become quite expensive if you want to use them beyond moving up and down the valley and visit the higher altitude towns and tourist spots.
Food and drinking opportunities are as you’d find in the UK but with the added expense factor to consider. Most supermarket shopping trips resulted in resorting to ‘student food’ to get by without breaking the holiday budget but if you can be creative with your cooking then it’s possible to do. Going fully catered may be a more sensible option for a larger group.
Information for trains in the area can be found at each of the train stations along the route, by visiting the tourist information centre in Grindelwald/Interlaken or by visiting tourism/travel-information/
There are a few guide books for the area. The one we picked up is named ‘Interlaken Vertical’ and covers a selection of the classic spots around the Interlaken valley. There are 32 named climbing areas within the pocket sized book which range from the very easy and beginner friendly to steep multi pitch epics and deep water solo areas around Iseltwald. There’s something for every ability contained within the book as well as info on the climb’s technical features and gear requirements – just what you would expect from a good quality guidebook.
Our trip took us to the hills above Wildeswil where we found around 80 sport climbs ranging from 5a – 7c. Although we didn’t visit other crags in the book (we had a lot to cover in our 5 day window in the area) there’s plenty to go at. If you’re looking for somewhere to go

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