Finally facing the Eiger

Trip Start Sep 01, 2008
Trip End Sep 22, 2008

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Flag of Switzerland  , Swiss Alps,
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ever since the mid 1970s--I guess after I saw The Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood-- I've tried to get a glimpse of the famous mountain trio here-- the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau. I stopped in Interlaken in 1977 and then in 1981-- no luck. Socked in by fog.

We've been experiencing the same  in Wengen, but decided to take the cable car up higher yesterday-- Monday--to see if conditions were better there.

Thanks to Kevin, we had some movies to watch to prepare. On Sunday night we watched  Where Eagles Dare, another Clint Eastwood flick that features a hair-raising fight scene on a cable car. I wanted to warn Joysanna about some of the dangers of cable car transport. She remained unfazed.

We rode up to Mannlichen without incident and sure enough, it was clearing. We hiked for about an hour and a half (we brought our hiking sticks) over to another little ski resort called Kliene Sheidegg. Just as we ordered a beer and sat down at a table outside, the clouds parted and we got our first glimpse of the Eiger. Amazing!

Our plan was to hike from there up to the foot of the Eiger, where the little train goes into the mountain through a tunnel on it way to the Jungfraujoch, a sort of crazy resort hotel/restaurant/observatory built back in the early 1900s that sits precariously near the summit of the Jungfrau. So many Japanese tourists visit that signs are written in Japanese as well as German and English. Too expensive for us. Besides, we wanted to hike.

It had been snowing, and the closer we got to the station at the Eigergletcher (glacier) the deeper the snow got on the trail. Once we made it, we went to the restaurant for coffee and a delicious apple cake. This is the way all hiking should be--have a beer halfway through and then refreshments provided at the end.

The station has a group of polar dogs from Greenland, brought to the Eigergletcher by the explorer Raoul Amundsen back in the early 1900s. They are used for rescue and other transport by sled. And probably any clerical job the humans are tired of. They're very clever, but refused to make friends with me although I tried my best to be friendly.

When we attempted to start back, it was clear that conditions were too dicey. So we took the train back down to Kleine Sheidegg and then back to Wengen. We were completely worn out by that time. I was a bit miffed that the International Herald Tribune was sold out at the news stand. But if that's the only disappointment we have to deal with, we're doing pretty well.

To decompress, we watched Eight Below, the movie about sled dogs in the Antarctic. Friendly sled dogs.

The time here in the chalet in Wengen has been so great, and Miriam's family has been so gracious, that we're left completely humbled by their hospitality.

We're cleaning up the place this morning (Tuesday) and we go back to Bern this afternoon and then Wednesday on to Rome!
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