How To Hike The Via Ferrata – Murren to Gimmelwald – Switzerland
This Via Ferrata in Switzerland is an adrenaline junkies dream. Epic views of the Swiss Alps accompanied by sheer cliff faces, ladders to nowhere and bridges dangling over deep ravines. Not for the fainthearted, but big on rewards for those that dare, this iron walkway will have your knees trembling and your heart pounding.
The how and the where
To access this Via Ferrata head up in the cable car from Lauterbrunnen then jump on the train towards Murren for around 10CHF, or if you want to save some money this is a great warm up hike. From Murren station head to Intersport Stager to grab a helmet, gloves, carabiners and a harness. Hire costs 25CHF for the day and equipment can usually be returned at the end point in Gimmelwald via cable car. The trail itself is totally free. Intersport Stager also offer a guided tour on the Via Ferrata for 135CHF per person including equipment hire, great if you are less confident with climbing equipment. The trail itself is very easy to follow as you are clipped in the whole way and the staff will give you a brief demonstration when you hire the equipment anyway.
Now comes the tricky part. Whether you are hiring equipment or not I would recommend a visit to Intersport to get directions to the start of the trail. It isn’t really signposted and there are a few no trespassing signs that can add to the confusion. If you follow the directions you will come to an elevated wooden doorway on the left that leads to a mysterious tunnel, this is the start of the trail.
The trail itself
The Via Ferrata, or iron walkway as the name translates, is a 2.2km hike from Murren to Gimmelwald near the popular tourist town of Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland. It should take between 3 to 4 hours to complete and is challenging but attainable with people of a basic fitness level. It starts off with a scramble down a rock path then a gentle amble through a forest. As you continue the true beauty of this path starts to make itself known with snippets of the magnificent Alps and the valley below.
Before you know it the ground drops away and you’re exposed on a cliff face with just small iron foot holds between you and the town 2500ft below. An intense 5 minutes later you are back on solid ground and feeling capable of anything. The rest of the trail includes some metal rope bridges over waterfalls, a zip-line (for guided tours only) and huge ladders that seem to disappear off the edge of the mountain. The big finale is the Nepal bridge. A final test of your steel at around 100 meters long the bridge is known to sway a little in the wind but offers breathtaking views of the canyon 80 meters below your feet. Stop in at the Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald for a drink to celebrate!
Know before you go
- Wear appropriate footwear – you need boots not trainers. The shop won’t hire you climbing equipment if your footwear isn’t safe!
- A basic level of fitness is required – be prepared for a few aches the next day!
- It is high – sounds obvious but if you haven’t got a head for heights it’s best to skip this one.
- Gloves are essential – you can hire these as well as all other essential gear at Intersport.
- Bring a Go-Pro – the views are out of this world and the last thing you want is to drop your phone- it’s a pretty long way down.
- Keep your eyes peeled – if you’re lucky you can spot base jumpers hurling themselves off of platforms along the walk.