We were looking for a quaint town in the Swiss Alps for our vacation, one that was off the beaten path but still offered big adventures. We found it at Gimmewald, Switzerland. The town is accessible by a one-lane road, but most travelers and locals use the cable car to transport themselves up the cliff side on which the village precariously sits. We stayed at Mountain Hostel, a very friendly and busy place full of young travelers. The small village did not even contain a grocery store and was inhabited by mostly farmers.

Right outside the Hostel’s front door was a spectacular mountain view. Our first day hike took us past torrential waterfalls to a scenic view point where we met a group of men waiting for the perfect wind conditions, preparing their parachutes for speed flying. We relaxed and watched them jump off the viewpoint, one-by-one, to coast for a full 4-minute ride down to the grassy valley below.

A 30-minute hike to the village of Murren led us to the start of our via ferrata tour. Using rented harnesses and carabineers from our hostel, we attached onto the fixed cable wire and descended onto the cliff face. For an hour we hiked, stepped gingerly, crossed bridges near waterfalls and climbed rebar ladders across the open cliff face back to Gimmewald. The journey made my heart pound and question my sanity for attempting such a feat, but the views were unbeatable.

We reassessed our travel plans to stay one extra day in order to summit the Schilthorn (9,744 ft). The day hike was a long and arduous one, taking about 6 hours to ascend from Gimmewald and 2 hours to descend. We formed our own hiking gang of travelers from London, Australia and Canada. The hike took us through forests, past creeks, up valleys, and finally past a lake just before the skree and snow at the top. The summit housed a circular restaurant and viewpoint with attached cable car to carry the visitors who did not care to make the trip on foot. Many people hike the way up and then choose to descend via the cable car, or vice versa. We remained at the top for an hour or so to catch our breaths and take in the spectacular views of Jungfrau and over one hundred other snow-capped glacial peaks.

This Destination Was Explored By: Maggie Hirschauer