If one location can summarise the travel wonder of the European Alps and Switzerland, it is Interlaken and the Bernese Oberland. Sandwiched between two sparkling azure lakes, Interlaken stares at the towering giants of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and the snaking icy river, Aletsch Glacier, which is Europe’s longest. Beautiful days in nature can be spent wandering between the traditional mountain villages and through the scenic verdant valleys.
One excellent journey starts by taking a train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and walking around five kilometers along a well sign-posted route to Trümmelbach Falls. The crisp fresh air, the amphitheatre of mountains, the tranquil setting and the glorious blooming wildflowers all brighten the steps and quicken the stride. Glorious waterfalls tumble down niches in the rock walls, none more impressive than the 300 metres Staubbach Falls that seemingly tumbles into Lauterbrunnen itself and gives it its name of Valley of Loud Waters.
In under an hour, the path crosses a small bridge with a raging torrent of water (turns out to be the bottom of Trümmelbach Falls) and an elevator which shoots to the top of the falls. Step out and meet a wall of deafening noise. Trümmelbach Falls gushes and carves its way down a tortured path of twists and turns having gouged its tumultuous journey over many thousands of years. Tiny lookouts onto the gushing water litter the path, the freezing spray stinging the face as small droplets strike unguarded skin. Subtle lighting along the narrow damp pathway and natural shafts of light from crevices in the rock sets an eerie scene with a background of the constant ear-piercing drumming of columns of milky glacial foaming water pounding into rock. Indeed, this waterfall is far more heard than seen.
A tri-lingual sign at the bottom summarises the crescendo of sound in numbers:
“Ten glacier-waterfalls inside the mountain made accessible by tunnel-lift and illuminated. The Trümmelbach alone drains the mighty glacier defiles of Eiger (3970m), Monk (4099m) and Jungfrau (4158m) and carries 20,200 tons of boulder detritus per year. Its drainage area is 24 sq km, half of it covered by snow and glaciers. Up to 20,000 litres of water per second. The only glacier-waterfalls in Europe inside the mountain and still accessible.”
It is certainly worth a short journey through this mountain hideaway waterfall as a break from the visual feast of stupendous Swiss mountain and verdant valley beauty. The intensity of the sound from the huge volumes of water escaping the narrow rocky passage test the hearing but leave an incredible impression of the outrageous power of nature and time.