August 21 – Grindelwald to Aare River valley (51 km, 31 miles)

August 21 Route Map

I woke up this morning to a cloudless sky, which was exactly what I wanted for the climb up to Grosse Scheidegg and over the pass. Yesterday there were clouds drifting past the Eiger, so I didn’t get a complete view of it. But this morning I was able to get a perfect view of the entire mountain. Pretty impressive.

I got underway at 8:15 this morning and reached the pass at 11:00, taking 2 hours and 45 minutes to ride 11 kilometers and climb 3,034 feet. If I had not stopped so often to take pictures of the amazing scenery, I probably could have gotten to the pass an hour earlier. But there was just so much to see – huge mountain walls, glaciers, waterfalls, and even the classic Swiss scene of cows (with cowbells) grazing in the high mountain meadows with wildflowers all around. Simply spectacular. As I neared the pass, I started encountering a lot of bicyclists headed downhill, and they weren’t out for a leisurely ride either. They were blasting past me at 40-50 kilometers per hour and they weren’t too keen on staying on their side of the road. Not very courteous of them. It was only when I reached the pass that I discovered they were in a bike race – their race numbers were on their backs, so that’s why I didn’t realize it was a race when I was headed up. The Swiss are great at building facilities for tourists, and the pass was no exception. The hotel Grosse Scheidegg had a nice restaurant with an outdoor terrace, so I had a big lunch of grilled sausage and potatoes, washed down with a local beer, and finished off with vanilla ice cream covered with wild berries and drenched with raspberry sauce.

The descent from the pass was every bit as much fun as I was expecting it to be. It was 16 kilometers, descended 4,400 feet, and it took only one hour. It could have been faster if not for all the hairpin turns on the way down. What a fun ride that was!

Once I got down to the valley bottom, I stopped at a local attraction where the Aare River cuts through a canyon. They’ve installed walkways that are cantilevered out along the walls of the canyon and about 30 or so feet above the river. As usual, it was another spectacular example of Swiss engineering. The river canyon was about 600 or 700 feet deep, and varied in width from a couple hundred feet to only about five feet at the narrowest. It was at this narrowest spot where the walkway spanned the gap between to rock walls on each side, and with the river below. Up above was just a narrow slot between the walls where you could just barely see some patches of sky.

After doing the river canyon tour it was time for me to get back on the road. The route headed south through the Aare River valley and up toward Grimselpass. It was about 40 kilometers from the canyon to the pass, and it was 3:30 when I left the canyon, with about a 5,200 foot climb ahead of me to the pass. There was no way I could get over the pass before it got dark, so at 6:00 pm I found a nice campsite by the side of the road. It was in the area where the original road branches off from the newer road and tunnel that were constructed in 1984. The old road is now a designated bicycle route. It’s a nice little spot to spend the night, but I have to listen to the constant stream of motorcycles racing up and down the new road. In fact, the main road through the Aare River valley is a favorite for motorcycles and fast cars. In fact, I think there were actually more motorcycles than cars. It’s a nice smooth road with lots of curves and tunnels, so the motorcyclists go crazy on it

Total ascent today was 8,450 feet, and the total descent was 6,798 feet. High point was 6,431 feet at Grosse Scheidegg.

I still have about 20 kilometers to go before I get to the pass tomorrow. After the pass, it’s a nice downhill ride on a road with lots of switchbacks down into the Rhone River valley. I’m looking forward to that.

One Response to “August 21 – Grindelwald to Aare River valley (51 km, 31 miles)”

  1. Time to go to Camp 29. Where’s Scott?!? 🙂

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