Grindelwald developed from ancient farming beginnings into a long, thin resort sprawling on the main road. In recent years, it expanded above the lower slopes of the mountain in every direction. Unlike Wengen and Murren, it has a huge year-round trade, all thanks to its honeypot magnet - the mountain railway cut into the Eiger rock face going to the top of the Jungfrau at 3,454m, which is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ski slopes on Kleine Scheidegg and Mannlichen are shared by Grindelwald and Wengen. On the Grindelwald side, a cog railway heads up to Kleine Scheidegg viaBrandegg, while Mannlichen is served, by a super-slow gondola in need of upgrading. Interlinked chairlifts offer plenty of red running on the top stations and there's an appealing blue run from Kleine Scheidegg going back to Grindelwald that is flat enough to enable first-week skiers a sense of going places. These slopes are a bit low to be snowsure, a problem the area is trying to resolve by installing snow cannons.
Grindelwald too, has its own mountain. First, is on the other side of the primary road and accessed through a gondola located far from the centre of town. The lifts at the top take you to Oberjoch, the starting point for a user-friendly and underused complex of red and blue runs, and the resort's top-quality black below the gondola that goes back to town. Oberjoch is alsothe launch point for the region's best off-piste tours on Grosse Scheidegg and beyond.
When it concerns mountain huts, Grindelwald is a class apart from its neighbours, but there's plenty of choice, some of it of the mid-station cafeteria kind. The best among these are at Berghaus Bort and Berghaus First. The Pumuckle two-storey glass igloo is lively and architecturally modern. On the other side, the Brandegg station restaurant has the popular apple fritters and a suntrap terrace straight under the Eiger. There is a snowsure and challenging terrain park on Oberjoch and a super-pipe on top of Schreckfeld, both in the First area.
The toboggan run in Grindelwald is quite radical: it begins with a bus ride to Bussalp, followed by a two-hour climb up the Faulhorn (optional) - the start of a 15km descent, said to be the longest in the world.
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© 2012 Athena Goodlight
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