The Jungfrau massif, with its group of three famous peaks, the Jungfrau (4,158 m/13,642ft), the Mönch (4,099 m/13,449ft) and the Eiger (3,970 m/13,026ft), has long had a powerful grip on men's imaginations. Originally difficult of access, this mighty range of mountains in the heart of the Bernese Oberland has now been brought within easy reach and attracts large numbers of visitors every year. The Meyer brothers of Aarau first set foot on the summit of the Jungfrau in 1811; and 100 years later, in 1912, the rack-railroad to the Jungfraujoch was opened. The upper station (3,454 m/11,333ft) is the highest railroad station in Europe.
The skiing area of the Jungfrau region around Grindelwald, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen and Mürren offers 175km/109mi of pistes with 43 stations. The 10km/6mi long intermediate descent Lauberhorn-Grindelwald-Grund covers a height difference of 1,450 m/4,759ft. The height difference between Männlichen and Grindelwald (6km/4mi; intermediate) is 1,200 m/3,938ft. Schilthorn-Lauterbrunnen (12km/39mi; difficult) the height difference is 2,170 m/7,121ft. The First, Eigergletscher and Lauberhorn all have deep snow. Long-distance runs: Grindelwald-Bussalp (1,800 m/5,907ft; length 4km/2mi), Aspi-Grund (length 4km/2mi), Lauterbrunnen valley (12km/7mi), a circular course near Mürren and Lauterbrunnen-Stechelberg (12km/7mi).Interlaken is the gateway to the three major ski areas of the Jungfrau Region. The picture postcard town of Grindelwald with its narrow streets and picturesque chalets is at the foot of the Eiger Mountain. Wengen is a car-free resort located halfway up the Eiger and overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Murren is another town that allows no private cars and is known for its famous black diamond Inferno run down the Schilthorn. The Grindelwald area has skiing for all levels of ability. Beginners will find the slopes near Wengen the best for learning to ski whereas beginners should stay away from Murren's slopes which are the most challenging in the Jungfrau region. The Jungfraubahn cog railroad not only takes skiers up the mountain but gives non-skiers the chance to get a close look at the treacherous North Face of the Eiger.
Climbs from the Jungfraujoch (only to be undertaken with a guide): the Jungfrau (4,158 m/13,642ft; four hours, difficult), so named (the "Maiden") in honor of the Augustinian nuns of Interlaken; the Mönch (4,099 m/13,449ft; four hours, easier), the "Monk"; the Finsteraarhorn (4,274 m/14,023ft; 6.5-8 hours), the highest peak in the Bernese Alps. There is also a popular glacier walk to Konkordiaplatz (2,840 m/9,318ft), on the Aletsch glacier.
Mountain railroads (cableways)
The Jungfrau area of most interest to visitors extends north from the 4,000 m/13,124ft peaks of the Bernese Oberland towards Lake Thun and Brienz. A railroad line connecting the two lakes was opened between Därlingen and Bönigen in 1874 (the first steamer on Lake Thun having gone into service nearly 40 years earlier, in 1836). This was followed in 1888 by the Brünigbahn between Lucerne and Interlaken, in 1893 by the Thuner-See-Bahn (Lake Thun railroad) and in 1913 by the Lötschberg railroad, which provided a link with Italy. The first mountain railroads in the Jungfrau area had been built some years previously.The Jungfrau mountain railroads, all under the same management, now have a total length of more than 70km/43mi (all electric), with gauges of either 100 or 80 cm/39 or 31 inches.
Opened 1890; from Interlaken Ost (East station) to Lauterbrunnen (796 m/2,612ft) and from Interlaken Ost to Grindelwald (1,034 m/3,393ft). Total length 23.5km/15mi; gauge 100 cm/39 in; gradients up to 12% (1 in 8) (partly normal railroad line, partly rack-railroad).
Schynige Platte Bahn
Opened 1893 (associated with the Berner-Oberland-Bahnen since 1895); from Wilderswil (584 m/1,916ft) to the Schynige Platte (1,967 m/6,454ft). Length 7.3km/5mi; gauge 80 cm/31 in; gradients up to 25% (1 in 4) (rack-railroad).
Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen - Mürren
Opened 1891; from Lauterbrunnen (796 m/2,612ft) to the Grütschalp (1,487 m/4,879ft), cableway; Grütschalp-Mürren (1,650 m/5,414ft), railroad. Total length 5.7km/4mi; gauge 100 cm/39 in; gradients up to 61% (1 in 1.6) (cableway).
Seilbahn Mürren-Allmendubel (SMA)
Cable railroad opened 1912; from Mürren (1,650 m/5,414ft) to the Allmendhubel (1,912 m/6,273ft). Length 536 m/1,759ft; gauge 100 cm/39 in; gradients up to 61% (1 in 1.6).
Opened 1893: from Lauterbrunnen (796 m/2,612ft) to Wengen (1,274 m/4,180ft), the Wengernalp (1,873 m/6,145ft) and the Kleine Scheidegg (2,061 m/6,762ft), and from Grindelwald (1,034 m/3,393ft) to the Kleine Scheidegg (2,061 m/6,762ft). Total length 10km/6mi (the longest single stretch track of rack-railroad line in Switzerland); gauge 80 cm/31 in; gradients up to 25% (1 in 4).
Drahtseilbahn Interlaken-Harder (HB)
Cable railroad, opened 1908; from Interlaken (567 m/1,860ft) to the Harderkulm (1,322 m/4,337ft). Length 1.4km/1mi; gauge 100 cm/39 in; gradients up to 84% (1 in 1.5).