The Thrill Walk- Switzerland- An Update
What is it?
Where is it?
How to get there?
How much does it cost?
Why did we want to go back?
They say you shouldn’t revisit a special place, that it will often be a let-down and we were slightly anxious but we were also excited to be coming back to Murren / Birg in Switzerland again in February 2020 and at the top of our list of things to do was The Thrill Walk.
This was our third visit to Switzerland and this time we had one of our adult daughters traveling with us. She had seen our photos of the Thrill Walk from two years previously and was keen to experience it herself. Her expectations were high and we just hoped she wouldn’t be disappointed.
We had spent the night previously at Interlaken and set off on one of those perfect winter days with a vivid blue sky, the sun shining and the snow glistening. We stored our luggage at the station lockers and caught the train from Interlaken Ost station for the 20-minute train ride to Lauterbrunnen.
At the Lauterbrunnen station, we crossed the road to get the large cable car for the 5-minute steep trip up the mountainside to Grütschalp. At Grutschalp we changed to the quaint, old fashioned, very scenic railway that does a 15-minute amble around the mountain to Murren village. Sit on the left side of the train, in the direction of travel for the best views.
We ambled through the very picture postcard, car-free village of Murren to the other side of the village to connect with the cable car that goes up to Birg. This cable car goes to Schilthorn and Birg is the mid-station.
WE ARRIVE AT BIRG!
This journey had taken us a couple of hours and the adult daughter, although really enjoying the trip and great variety of modes of transport, was starting to wonder if it was going to be worth it. We stepped out of the gondola at the Birg cable station onto the large deck and the view was beyond stunning and magnificent. Not only that, but at the Bistro Birg, the bratwurst sausages were sizzling and the range of cakes was mouth-watering and the coffee smelt just great.
The view of over 200 stunning mountain tops was simply breathtaking! We found a spot on the Skyline Walk terrace overlooking the three main mountain peaks, the Eiger, the Monch, and the Jungfrau, to have a leisurely lunch and simply soak up the views!
WHAT IS THE THRILL WALK!
The Thrill Walk is a 200-meter steel, glass and wire path structure that is pinned to vertical rock that crawls around the side of the mountain. It is definitely not for those people who are afraid of heights.
The first section is a one-way gate to remind you that once you start, there is no turning back, and then out onto a series of open steel mesh steps that wind down and around the mountainside. To see where you are stepping it is necessary to look down, and through the steel mesh, you can see the ground far, far, below you. A little anxiety-producing!
The next section involves a tight rope walk where you balance and walk along a single wire cable. There is wire mesh under you and to the sides, but it is still very scary!
After that comes the glass pathway emphasizing just how far up the mountain you are, and how little there is below you.
Finally there is a wire mesh tunnel to crawl through with the ground a very long way below you!
The adult daughter loved it! She thought it was great fun. There are walkways between these sections where it is possible to just stop and enjoy the remarkable views with the little village of Murren like a toy town 1000 meters below.
Fortunately for the less daring like me, there is a narrow alternative path beside each of these nail-biting sections if those who can't cope with the challenging and adrenaline pumping ones. There is no way I could attempt the crawl through the tunnel and I wasn’t keen on attempting the tight rope section either.
However, the biggest challenge for me was the climb up the snowbank from the end of the walk, back up to to the Bistro and viewing platform. This is a climb of about 100 meters through the snow on the side of the mountain. It is about 3 meters wide, at about a 45-degree angle and with a steep drop to one side and with nothing to hold onto. It was a slow climb and definitely the scariest part of the Thrill Walk for me.
Make sure you have shoes or boots that are good for gripping the snow for this section!
SCHILTHORN- The final journey to the top.
Birg, where the Thrill Walk is situated is the midpoint of the gondola trip that goes further up to the mountain to Schilthorn. Murren is at 1650 meters, Birg is at 2677 meters and Schilthorn at 2970 meters.
On this trip, we didn't do the final gondola ride from Birg to the Schilthorn, as none of us are great James Bond fans and we were very content with the views, the food and the Thrill Walk from Birg.
Check out our other post about The Thrill Walk for more information about the Schilthorn
Schilthorn, like Birg, also has a stunning 360-degree view of the Bernese Oberland and mountain peaks. On a clear day, it is possible to see Mount Blanc in France from Schilthorn peak.
At Schilthorn there is the revolving panoramic restaurant Piz Gloria that was featured in the 1969 James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” If you’re a James Bond fan you must visit the Bond World, a James Bond Museum with interactive games.
More about MURREN
At the end of the day, we caught the cable car back to Murren and enjoyed ambling through this very picturesque car-free Swiss Village. Murren is located on the edge of an 600 meter high cliff above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. We stopped for apple strudel and coffee and decided that next time we visited we would stay in Murren and have time to take some hikes from here and really explore the area.
1. AVOID THE WEEKEND IF POSSIBLE
We made one mistake scheduling this trip and that was to do it on a Saturday. The trains and cable cars were crowded with locals going skiing. If you can possibly manage it, schedule this trip for a weekday when it will be less crowded.
2. USING YOUR SWISS TRAVEL PASS
Travel included in the Swiss Rail Pass:-
-Train: Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen
-Cable car: Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp
-Mountain train: - Grutschalp to Murren
Sadly , since January 2020 the Swiss Rail Pass no longer covers the final gondola from Murren to Birg and then on to the Schilthorn peak. It does offer a 50% discount on this section.
Murren to Birg -CHF16 for the return trip including 50% discount
Murren to Schilthorn with a stop at Birg- CHF42.80 Return trip including 50% discount
Thanks to Swiss Travel System for their assistance
and Hannah Goodburn for some great photography!