When sitting down to plan our first European adventure we stumbled upon someone hanging on the side of the Swiss cliffs slide via Google Earth pics. All we knew at the time was that it was near the town of Murren and Gimmelwald in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. After some intense research we found that these people were on something called a via ferrata. At the time we had never heard of a via ferrata, but now they are something we look for at every trip location.
If this is your first time of hearing of a via ferrata…..
The via Ferrata (Italian for “iron way”) is a mountain route equipped with steel cables, ladders, and other fixed anchors, for example wooden walkways and suspended bridges
Most via ferratas are found in European countries but are slowing making way across the world. We love them because they are a perfect mix of fear factor, adrenaline and the absolutely best way to view the amazing mountain tops, especially this one.
The Murren-Gimmelwald via ferrata is exactly as is sounds. It starts in the town of Murren and ends in the smaller village of Gimmelwald. Via cables, staples, ladders, and bridges and strapped in a harness ( I wouldn’t do it if I was not) this via ferrata takes you 2000 feet above the Lauterbrunnen valley of Switzerland. This is an experience that surely I will not forget.
What to Bring:
-Hiking Shoes- or any general gym shoe. I love my Ahnu shoes.
-Waterbottle (you can bring a container such as a hydration bladder but in town they had some water refill stations that you can use before and after the hike as well. We love using these to travel with, option 1 and option 2.
-I tend to have a granola bar or such in case it takes longer than planned.
-We brought gloves but did not use them much. We heard they are nice in the heat if any parts gets hot to touch from the sun. A cheap pair like these should be just fine.
All You Need to Know about the Trek
The trek took us about 3-4 hours.
You can choose to go with or without a guide. It is cheaper without as our equipment rental only cost us around $25.
The course is only open during the summer months as it is typically covered in snow. We went in June and it had just opened.
To get to the via ferrata your have to travel via cable car and train to the the town of Murren. Murren is a car free town so it is the absolutely only way to get there. Try to get an early morning cable car from Lauterbrunnen as you will not want to do this hike crowded with people. Here are transportation options.
In Murren we rented our equipment at a place right across from the Sports Chalet in Murren called Intersports. Here they taught us how to use the harnesses and checked to make sure we had the proper footwear and fitted us for a helmet. They also taught us if used properly and we fell it would be a fast 10 ft drop before our harness would catch us. Still not fun but better than the bottom of the valley. Make sure you have a good pair of shoes!
The start is hard to find, ask for directions. But pass the tennis courts at the Sports Chalet and follow the signage looking for a stone wall and tunnel.
The first part starts pretty tamed and gives you some easy practice of clipping yourself with the two carabiners and always being attached with one. As along as your are smart this is very safe.
Before we got to the steeper parts we even passed by a platform where we saw base jumpers jumping off! This place is ideal for base jumpers and saw them in the sky all day.
The trail ramps up a little after that and you continue on to the staple feature of the course. This was incredible, my heart was beating but knew this was an experience like no other.
After some mild sections we came across a tight rope and more sections of ladders.
A few more features and then we headed the next main attraction.
A 263 foot steel bridge with an over 1000 foot drop. From the looks this didn’t look frightening but boy did the bridge wobble. I would recommend going one person at a time.
At last you descend in to the village of Gimmelwald while passing some cow pastures. I felt like I was in a movie while walking through this picturesque town.
To return you can take the cable car to Stechelberg and explore the Lauterbrunnen valley and go back up. But we took our tired legs and walked the road connecting Murren and Gimmelwald back to return our gear and get something to eat!
This is quite the amazing adventure! I will definitely be looking for more in the future! I think one in Norway is in our plans 🙂