24. Jun, 2016

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FRIDAY 24-06-16

The alarm went off at 05:00 and we dragged ourselves out of bed  and to the shower block trying our best not to make any noise. On most campsites we've locked the vehicle before both going off to the block, but here we've taken it in turns to go rather than lock up. This morning we both went off at the same time but leaving the vehicle unlocked based on the theory that nobody else would be mad enough to be up at that time of day, never mind those having criminal intent.

We packed our backpacks with bits and set off in good time for Lauterbrunnen railway station to catch the 07:07 train, the first of the day, up to Kleine Scheidegg before changing trains for Jungfraujoch at 11330ft. Needless to say we shared the train with half of China and Japan, the Yanks taking a rain cheque as it was just too early for them. They would never have had time to finish their maple syrup-drench waffles for breakfast before setting off.

The journey took about ninety minutes before arriving at the 'Top of Europe'. Now we had been up there twice before, and The Chef had been there thrice, so we knew what to expect, or so we thought.

Having left the train we searched for the way out on to the ice field, I guess that's what you call it. On each occasion we've loved to hike across it on the marked trail for a couple of miles and then return.

Today though - closed, closed because of the risk of an avalanche. Now the ice field doesn't exactly have sheer sides where I could appreciate the risk, but no, today it was closed. Well when I say closed, I mean closed to us tourist punters who have been conned in to paying full price for not very much, closed to half of Asia who came up with us on the trains, but not closed to a small group of climbers who were on our train. They were tooled up with helmets, ice picks, ropes, special boots etc. What they didn't have with them however, was the means to escape a multi-hundred-ton avalanche of ice and snow, which left me wondering what special skills did they posses to avoid being buried alive, and thus qualifying to be allowed out on to the ice field, whilst we were not. Fear not, it ain't done yet, and I will be taking the matter up on our return.

Basically we got up in the middle of the night to take a train ride which cost us £100 each to arrive at a high altitude restaurant which we could share with half of Asia, and managing to get out on to a small area of snow from which we could take photographs of the restaurant and ice field.

When we left that and went back indoors I asked a large group who were queuing for the lift because they were too lazy to walk down one flight of stairs "China?, Japan?" -  "Korea" came the reply. Since they were not crying, clapping furiously, bowing, or eating grass and dog-turd sandwiches I assumed they were South Korean.

We made our way back down to Kleine Scheidegg station and there caught various trains for our round trip back to Lauterbrunnen, which I'd purchased as an extra yesterday. This allowed us to pass across the front of the north face of the Eiger in comfort. We were going to take a look around Grindelwald, our first change of train, but it was so hot we gave up on the idea, bought ourselves two Magnet ice creams for £5 and carried on with our return journey.

Back at the campsite I got busy with my hand washing before we cracked on with 'breaking camp' ready to get back on the road Sunday heading for France. This trip to Switzerland has been both very disappointing and expensive. I don't mind expensive too much provided we've really enjoyed ourselves, but we haven't, and I for one will be pleased to leave, and this time with no desire to return.