Via Ferrata in Murren (also cheese, Eiger, cows, and time travel)

Guys, Switzerland is beautiful. Unbelievably beautiful. This wasn’t my first time in Switzerland but whoa – I forgot how just mind-numbingly gorgeous this country is.

We went to Switzerland this summer for a wedding (It was by a lake! Mountain casual dress code! I got to wear my hiking boots!). And you know, since we were going to be in Europe, why not stay longer? So we stayed for a week in Sicily, a place neither of us had been before. Then with stomachs full of fresh Sicilian seafood, we flew to Switzerland. We spent a few days in Furkapass to do some climbing, then a few days in Murren, a village overhanging Lauterbrunnen Valley with out-of-this-world view.

Murren can be only reached by taking a gondola or a train so it gets fewer tourists than Lauterbrunnen down at the valley floor. This car-free village makes for a perfect backdrop to do some traditional Swiss fun. You know, things like eating raclette, hiking on Swiss excellent trail system, drinking wheat beer, gawking at snow-capped mountains, looking at cows… and that’s pretty much what we did.

How unreal is this place?

Seriously unreal Switzerland.
Seriously unreal Switzerland.
The Honesty Shop, honor-system store. Just put the money in a box by the door as you leave with your purchase.
The Honesty Shop, an honor-system store. Just put the money in a box by the door as you leave with your purchase.
I want to live in that house.
I want to live in that house.
Panoramic view of Murren and its mountains. Photo credit: Natasha O.
Panoramic view of Murren and its mountains. Photo credit: Natasha O.
Even in the most touristy area, cows still rule the pastures around the mountain.
Even in the most touristy area, cows still rule the pastures around the mountain.
Baby cow!!!
Baby cow!!!
I love these mountain chalets with wooden shutters - they're all over Lauterbrunnen area
I love these mountain chalets with wooden shutters
The only time we got to see Eiger
Look, it’s Mt. Eiger!! This was the only time we got to see Eiger. A blanket of clouds covered the view the rest of our stay.
View from our bedroom in Hotel Regina
View from our bedroom in Hotel Regina
Our hotel, Hotel Regina - the grand building at the center.
Our hotel, Hotel Regina – the grand building at the center. Photo credit: Natasha O

We hiked to Gimmewald, a village just below Murren. A hike between these 2 villages was short and but filled with expansive mountain views.

I didn’t realise it right away, but on our previous visit to Switzerland – over 10 years ago – we stayed in this exact same village. When were walking around Gimmewald, I kept feeling a sense of deja vu. That hut looks familiar. Hmm, this balcony and the tree house next to it? Also familiar. Then we passed a barn and I had a major flashback. I nudged Jack. Hey, remember that time we went to Switzerland and slept in the cheapest place in town? That turned out to be a barn? I’m pretty sure it’s this barn right here.

It was the summer of 2006 and it was our very first International trip together, taken before we got married. We were one of the millions of semi-broke college students that swarm Europe in summer. Switzerland was expensive even back then and the cheapest place to stay we could find was a place in a cow barn. In summer, Swiss cows are let out to pasture in the surrounding fields. One enterprising farmer decided to fill her empty barn with fresh hay and charge 15 euros per person to sleep in it.

I know it’s silly thing to get excited about, but we couldn’t believe that we serendipitously found our way back to this place. Seeing it (all gated up now) brought back a lot of good memories from that trip that made me smile. Those were the good old days. (Yeah, I’m old).

We slept inside that barn 10 years ago.
We slept inside that barn 10 years ago.

Murren – Gimmewald via ferrata

Murren is also a starting point of a via ferrata that traverses along the cliffside above the valley. It starts in Murren behind a tennis court and ends by the gondola station in Gimmewald. After our very first via ferrata experience in Telluride, we’ve become big fans of via ferratas. I actually decided to stay in Murren when I learned about this via ferrata.

Grade-wise, it’s pretty mellow (I think partly because unlike most via ferratas, this one descends) but it still has incredible exposures! It involves a very long suspension bridge and a couple of high-wire crossings. The latter freaked me out more than anything. I might’ve cried a bit.

The team, with their harnesses on, on our way to the via ferrata in Murren.
The team, with their harnesses on, on our way to the via ferrata in Murren.
Approaching the start of the via ferrata in Murren and getting a glimpse of the views to come.
Approaching the start of the via ferrata in Murren and getting a glimpse of the views to come.
The Murren - Gimmelwald Klettersteig
The Murren – Gimmelwald Klettersteig
The first section requires a little bit of jungle crossing.
The first section requires a little bit of jungle crossing.
We can finally see the valley below us.
We can finally see the valley below us.
It was a Haribo-fueled excursion.
It was a Haribo-fueled excursion.
The via ferrata goes from Murren to Grindewald, a lower elevation village. The route is therefore mostly a traverse at a downward incline, with a few ladders thrown in.
The via ferrata goes from Murren to Grindewald, a lower elevation village. The route is therefore mostly a traverse at a downward incline, with a few ladders thrown in.
Over Lauterbrunnen Valley. Look at that exposure!
Over Lauterbrunnen Valley. Look at that exposure!
Our friends had never done a via ferrata before, but as climbers, they're used to the exposure and height.
Our friends had never done a via ferrata before, but as climbers, they’re used to the exposure and height.
The latter section
The ladder section
Weee! So awesome!
Weee! So awesome!
I'm not liking this at all!
One of the high-wire bridges on the Murren-Gimmewald via ferrata. I’m not liking this section at all! Photo: Natasha O
One of the two high-wire sections on Murren via ferrata in Switzerland
Yikes!
Shenanigans!
Shenanigans!
Just when you think it's over, comes the Nepal bridge.
Just when you think it’s over, comes the Nepal bridge.
It's a pretty narrow bridge.
It’s a pretty narrow bridge.
A section of the via ferrata in Murren requires you to cross a Nepal Bridge (read:swinging, tilting, terrifying bridge)
It swings and tilts a lot more than you’d expect.
It was super exciting!
Post-via ferrata libations: wheat beer and home-made ale at Gimmewald
Post-via ferrata libations: wheat beer and home-made ale at Gimmewald

Murren Basic

Where to stay: We stayed in Hotel Regina, which was excellent. It has a huge balcony with grand view of the Eiger and friends as well as scenic breakfast room. And oh, great breakfast is included too. Find other hotels in Murren.

Cheaper hotels are available in Lauterbrunnen but if you’re planning to hike, Murren or Gimmewald makes a much better base because that’s where most trailheads are – also the views are better IMO 🙂

Getting to Murren: Take a gondola from Stechelberg. You can park your car at the bottom of the gondola. Or take a train.

Via ferrata gear rental in Murren:
Sports Chalet in Murren rents out complete sets of via ferrata gear, but mind your footwear! They wouldn’t rent out to one of our friends because he was not wearing shoes that they deemed safe enough. But don’t worry, they rent out boots too.

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4 Replies to “Via Ferrata in Murren (also cheese, Eiger, cows, and time travel)”

  1. Great stuff, guys. Sounds like an amazing trip and those pics are superb. I forgot how amazing the scenery was there. I Visited Gimmelwald in the summer of 2007 on my first trip too!. Stayed at the hostel though, not the barn. I remember that place, I think it was called ‘Sleep in the Hay’?

  2. We were in Gimmewald this summer and I agree that this part of Switzerland is stunning! Didn’t know about the via ferrata but I’m not sure if that’s something I’d have done either. Great photos!

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