The ski areas were pretty spread out. An online trail map gives an overview. The snow cover wasn't particularly good when we were there, so we weren't able to visit them all. Jim skied the First area on a day that I was sick. I skied the Schilthorn with a friend, but Jim elected to pass on that summit. We did ski down from Birg together.



Kleine Scheidegg

Unlike most European ski areas, which require a bus ride to get from the hotels to the slopes, Interlaken used railways -- both cog & friction -- plus a pair of funiculars.

For railfans like us, this was heaven (with skiing too!). Check out my pictures of the various railroad lines and the wonderful places they took us.

Kleine Scheidegg was a major transfer point for the trains and the base of several lifts.


First lift

We had gotten just a bit of snow overnight, but there isn't much cover lower down the slopes. You can see people walking down the last bit of slope to the lift base.

This is the lift from Grindelwald to the First area. Jim is in the chair and is waving to me. As you can see, the chair is sideways on the cable. It had to be loaded somewhat like a gondola. Skis go into the carrier on the side of the chair, the passengers then sit down and are wrapped with blankets against the wind when they close the safety bars.

It isn't shown here, but this lift made a couple of turns in its ascent rather than being built in a straight line.

It has since been replaced by a modern gondola.


The Lauberhorn area. It has been the site of an annual race meet since the late 1920s (or so).

I don't think we tried that one out.

Kleiner Scheidegg

We did ski in this area down from Kleine Scheidegg toward Grindelwald. The trails more-or-less ran along the rail line. One of the trains can be seen in the picture.

I remember having to climb over the train tracks, dodge cow patties half-buried in the thin snow cover, and ski through back yards.

European skiing at its most ideosyncratic!


EigerThe Jungfrau (L) and the Eiger (R) up close and personal from Kleine Scheidegg.

There will be a later picture with the iconic view of these mountains.


The top of the cable car at Birg can just be seen on the upper right. From there we can take the cable car up to the summit of the Schilthorn.

View from the Schilthorn

This is the view from the observation platform on the Schilthorn looking away from the Jungfrau.

The revolving restaurant on this summit was used in the film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. There was a hair-raising ski run down that I couldn't wait to try.

Jim thought I was nuts and didn't hesitate to say so.

Mary Jane & Alice

We met our friends Mary Jane McCarthy and Alice Swalm up there. They had taken the cable car up, but had no plans to ski down. Jim graciously agreed to accompany them taking the lift back down to the Birg summit.

The airlines had lost Mary Jane's boots on the trip to Switzerland. She tried rentals, but they almost crippled her. I seem to remember that the boots never turned up and she had to buy new ones for the rest of the trip.

Kirk Burns had also been looking forward to skiing the Schilthorn so he and I skied down together. I wasn't as good a skier as Kirk, so I don't think he got quite the trip he had envisioned, but I had fun and I hope he did too.

Skiing down from Birg

Kirk and I met Jim below Birg and skied down together.


From left to right: Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau.

The Jungfrau isn't the highest mountain in Europe, that would be Mt. Blanc, or even the highest mountain in Switzerland, which would either be the Dom or Monte Rosa depending on whether the mountain must be entirely within the country. This threesome, however, is very prominent and just about the essence of the Alps.

Ski run from Birg, Switzerland

Skiing into Mürren with the Mönch in the background.

When a friend saw this image, she said that when she took photos of steep runs the pictures always made the runs look a lot flatter than they seemed at the time.

I don't recall if this run was any steeper than it looks in the photo, but I do remember that it was challenging!

Jim & Kirk

We had a pretty good snowfall one night. At ordinary ski resorts, the ski patrol uses dynamite or old howitzers to trigger potential avalanches before the skiers get on the mountain.

Here they have a somewhat different approach. There is a Swiss Air Force base in the valley. The jet jockeys are always ready to fly up the narrow valleys SUPERSONIC so that the shock wave brings down any loose snow! We had heard the booms starting that morning at breakfast.

Jim, Kirk and I were having some quiet time at this cafe planning our next runs when one of the jets came screaming straight up out of the valley right beyond those nearby trees.


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