• Deborah Kade

Stechelberg and Mürren, Switzerland

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

Decided to go to the Lauterbrunnen Valley.

It was another picture perfect day. Took the train up to Lauterbrunnen; where I switched to a bus to take me to the end of the valley. The bus stopped at the Stechelberg Hotel. I followed the hiking signs until I reached the cable car station in Stechelberg. Took the cable car up to Mürren.

According to the legend, the inhabitants residing in the plains around Interlaken had a need to explore the surrounding valleys in search of new pastures for their growing herds.

On their return, the nominated scouts were asked: ' What have you found?', to which they replied: ' We have seen many, clear waters (Luuter-Brunnen = many, clear waters) and Cliffs and Woods (Grind-ol-Wald = Cliffs or Woods).

There are 72 waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The formation of the waterfalls here is directly linked to the formation of the Lauterbrunnen Valley itself. Rivers and streams always flow to the lowest point of a valley and it is at this point where the erosion takes place and a V shaped river valley is formed.

The erosion by the mighty glaciers affects the whole depth and width of the valley. The wearing away of the rock at the sides of the glacier leads to the almost vertical valley sides and the the typical U shaped glacier valley. The Lauterbrunnen Valley can be considered a classic example of a glacial valley.

One of Switzerland's largest Nature Reserves stretches from the end of the Lauterbrunnen Valley to the borders of Canton Valais.

'In 2001, the Wengen-Mürren-Lauterbrunnen Vallea gained yet another prestigious highlight. Thanks to the initiative of Wengen hotelier Andrea Cova among other things, the Jungfrau-Aletsch region, which also includes the Rear Lauterbrunnen Valley, was accepted to the list of UNESCO World heritage sites. The exceptionally beautiful natural landscape has been a Swiss protected nature conservation area since 1960.

The region around the Jungfrau, Great Aletsch Glacier and Bietschhorn gained UNESCO recognition because its stunning mountain landscape fulfills the criteria set by the World Heritage committee in exceptional fashion: namely diversity, beauty and uniqueness.

The impressive summits of the World Heritage are unique evidence of the formation of the Alps. The high Alps of the Bernese Oberland, with the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, are one of the world's most famous mountain panoramas. The World Heritage region boasts five of the seven longest glaciers in the Swiss Alps, including Great Aletsch Glacier (23km). The huge altitude differences and special climatic conditions encourage the development of Alpine and sub-Alpine habitats. However, the attractiveness of the region is not only attributed to the uniqueness of its high mountains and the impressive natural landscape. Its special character also comes from the contrast to the traditional cultivated landscapes which border the World Heritage and have been shaped by farming for centuries. Today the World Heritage covers a total area of 824 km2.

As the 'hinteren' or 'Back' Lauterbrunnen Valley had already been sanctioned a Nature Reserve, it was not necessary to re-establish the area as a National Park. The resident alpine farmers carry on with their farming duties here. Nature conservation here is also a preservation of regional tradition and culture.

Both Alps were leased from the Swiss Confederation for the Protection of Nature (SBN). Tenant farmers followed traditional methods without the use of fertilizers and pesticides to manage the land and livestock of about 70 goats, 30 gitzi, 15 cattle and up to 100 sheep. Cheese making remains a traditional method here.

A farmer is haying.

The shade of green depends on when the grass was cut. How many different shades can you count?

A conservation area needs to be maintained and administered. Foehn wind storms (warm, south winds) and avalanches are a regular threat to the land. The mountain buildings must be maintained and the pastures must be kept clear of stones and rocks. To ensure reliable support, a mountain commission was formed in cooperation with the local municipality and consists of 2 municipal and 3 SBN representatives. The administrative group assists the Nature Conservation Commission.

Enjoyed walking along the streams. The sound of rushing water is constantly heard.

I wished I had brought something to cook as I would have liked to have spent some time here.

The Chamoix or Gemse (Mountain Goat) are the most common species in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Only recently, the Reh Deer can also be spotted in small numbers. The Marmot is a common sight and a noticeable spectacle. In the last twenty years, the Ibex or Steinbock grace the Lauterbrunnen Valley again.

I thought I heard the whistle of the marmots but I didn't see any. Marmots typically live in burrows, often within rock piles. Most marmots are highly social and use loud whistles to communicate with one another, especially when alarmed. Marmots mainly eat greens and many types of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, roots, and flowers.

Snow Hare, Foxes and Martens also inhabit the Nature Reserve. Typical alpine fauna includes birds such as the Snow Grouse, Alpine Chough, Raven and Wheatear, just to name a few

The Golden Eagle breeds annually in alpine regions. There is thought to be 100 to 150 breeding pairs in Switzerland. It lives in the high mountains, on cliff walls and preferably above the tree line. Occasionally, they may be spotted in the Valley during winter. The Eagle is usually observed sailing or in gliding flight. It takes its prey by surprise however, close to the ground. Its food consists mainly of mammals and birds. Depending on the habitat, this may include Marmots, Hares and Grouse

As is often in alpine regions, the geology of the Lauterbrunnen Valley is complex. At the end of the valley, lime and silicate minerals have formed together. The mineral structure extends from Stechelberg towards the South East. Marble and mica are often found in these structures. Ore (lead-zinc with bayte) occurs in the area around Breitlauenen. In the past, a mining industry operated here. Glaciers have formed the sheer valley slopes, rocky outcrops and moraine walls. From the Sefinen Valley to the Tschingel Peak extends an almost homogeneous lime mineral complex.

The geology of the Lauterbrunnen Valley has influenced the variety and species of Flora. For example, some plant types prefer the lime-rich ground, others, avoid the lime.

A typical example of a lime-loving plant is the common Silberwurz (Dryas octopetala), part of the rose family. It is a low growing, evergreen shrub. The leaves are regularly notched and often the underside has a white felt-like touch. The blooms are usually large, white and have eight petals. When the flowers wither a fruiting body is produced of which some form feathery tails. The Silberwurz is one of the few plant species which occurs both here in the Alps and within the Arctic Circle. A pioneer plant of lime debris, it had an important role during the settlement of areas cleared after the retreat of the Ice Age glaciers. The plant is easily recognizable during its season; some plants even survive to be a 100years old. It is a protected species in Switzerland. I didn't see these plants but I did photography some others.

Edelweiss is regarded as a national symbol in Switzerland. Did you know that the Edelweiss is not really a flower as such, but a set of 500 to a thousand tiny florets grouped in several heads (between 2 and 10 of them) surrounded by 5 to 15 white velvety leaves, that it is fertilized by flies, or that it originally comes from the Himalayas and was practically unknown until the late 19th century?

The Edelweiss was adopted as a national symbol in the 19th century . No one knew that this little silvery and hairy flower would become a real alpine celebrity.

In fact, over the years, Leontopodium alpinum (to give it its scientific name, literally “alpine lion’s tooth”) – has been used to decorate a large number of products made in Switzerland, from postcards to chocolate bars, from folk costumes to sun lotions, and from penknives to purses.

As the emblem of the Alps par excellence, the Edelweiss has many legends associated with it. Perhaps the most famous one tells of a bold suitor who put his own life in danger climbing a steep rock face to pluck the white flower as a gift for his beloved.

The original home of the Edelweiss is in the high plateau of the Himalayas and Siberia, where there currently exist about 30 little-known species in the wild.

The plant "migrated" to Europe during the Quaternary ice ages. Today it is found in the alpine region of Switzerland, Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Spain, and the Balkans at an altitude between 1,500 and 3,000 meters.

It can no longer be regarded as an endangered species, seeing as it has been cultivated in Valais since the 1990s. It is protected in almost all the countries where it grows. In Switzerland it does not enjoy protection at the national level, but it does in the 14 cantons where it is found, namely Ticino, Graubünden, Valais, Vaud, Fribourg, Bern, Appenzell and the whole of central Switzerland.

"The star of the snows” as the Edelweiss is sometimes called, is also a reminder of a dark past. "The Edelweiss was the favorite flower of Adolf Hitler. For that reason it was used as a symbol by the Nazis."


Taking pictures of flowers is a new obsession for me. This time, it was in gardens and hanging in flower boxes.

Mürren is at an elevation of 1,638 meters (5,374 ft) above sea level and it cannot be reached by public road. It is also one of the popular tourist spots in Switzerland, and summer and winter are the seasons when Mürren becomes busy with the tourists; the village features a view of the three towering mountains Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. Mürren has a year-round population of 450, but has 2,000 hotel beds.

There are a total of 52 km (32 mi) of ski runs with 14 ski lifts (six cable cars, seven chair lifts, three railways, and two drag lifts). There is also off-piste skiing, but guiding is often needed and should be used.

A series of four cable cars, known as the Luftseilbahn Stechelberg-Mürren-Schilthorn (LSMS), provides transportation from Mürren downhill to Gimmelwald and Stechelberg, and uphill to the summit of the Schilthorn and the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria. The Mürren station for these cable cars is approximately 800 meters (2,600 ft) south-west of the railway station at the other end of Mürren. This was a principal filming location for the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service, released in 1969, in which fictional spy James Bond (George Lazenby) made his escape from the headquarters of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas) and fled four of Blofeld's henchmen in a car driven by his girlfriend Tracy (Diana Rigg).

Are you getting dizzy yet?

Are you afraid of heights?

Almost at the top.

There is an additional cable car that runs directly from Mürren to Stechelberg, but this is provided solely for the movement of freight and used for public transportation only in times of repair of the regular cable car.

Mürren is also the lower terminus of the Allmendhubelbahn, a funicular.

I find the Lauterbrunnen Valley and especially Mürren to be tranquil and peaceful. It is soul quenching!!!

I sat and ate an apple from this bench. Time went slowly by. I was in no rush. Enjoyed the glorious scenery.

I would not enjoy lugging up the equipment in order to do some parasailing. I suppose the scenery is a great incentive, though. They are not even half way up the hill.

The last look at the mountains from my bedroom window. I need to look up which planet had shown brightly over the Jungfrau.

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