The Jungfrau, at 4,158 meters is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps, located between the northern canton of Bern and the southern canton of Valais, halfway between Interlaken and Fiesch. First climbed in 1811 by two Swiss brothers and their accompanying party, it was the focal point of mountaineers for the better part of a century. It was ascended by a number of ambitious climbers who enjoyed its long approach over the glaciers on the southern side of the mountain. The Aletsch Glacier, which is the largest in the entire Alps, reaches to Jungfrau on its western arm known as the Aletschfirn.Today the Jungfrau is a challenging yet inviting summit for intrepid mountaineers. It towers over and defines the beautiful towns of Interlaken, Grindelwald, and Lauterbrunnen. The classic and storied ascent has developed over time, thanks to the easy access provided by the Jungfraujoch railway station. Now this climb can even offer an ice palace and chocolate shop to include in your trip. Make a visit to the Sphinx Observatory before or after your climb to take in the view of the mountain you just conquered – or are about to conquer.
From the Bern Airport to Interlaken, it is roughly 50 kilometers, with a slightly longer distance covered by train in just over an hour. From there, head to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen (in around 45 minutes or 20 minutes by train, respectively). If you are taking the cog railway to the col, trains from both locations will take you to Kleine-Scheidegg for this route.
Taking the Kleine-Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch provides access to all of the features below the summit of Jungfrau, such as the ice palace and the Sphinx Hall. This “Top of Europe” ride is an added bonus to climbing trips on this indomitable peak. Almost all of the climbing trips following the Normal Route, as well as other ascents, will include a stop at Monchsjoch Hut, which is also located at Jungfraujoch.
Most climbs include a night at the Monchsjoch Hut at 3,658 meters. This allows for a train ride to Jungfraujoch on one day, and an early start to the summit on the following morning. For trips to the summit, it is safe to plan at least two days for a safe and successful attempt.
- Carabiners, both standard, and locking.
- Climbing harness.
- Ice axe.
- Personal anchoring system.
- Trekking poles.
- Baselayer tops and bottoms that fit snugly, but do not constrict. No cotton.
- Camera and extra batteries.
- Cash in Swiss francs (CHF) and credit card.
- Climbing pack, at least 30 litres.
- First aid kit
- Fleece or windbreaker.
- Gaiters, waterproof and comfortable.
- Gloves, three pairs: liner, softshell and leather climbing pairs.
- Hardshell pants and jacket, both of which should be waterproof and fit comfortably over the base layer and softshell layers.
- Hiking boots for the approach and mountaineering boots for the ascent.
- Hiking socks
- Insulated jacket, preferably lightweight.
- Shorts, for the approach.
- Softshell pants and jacket, both of which should fit comfortably over the base layers or without the base layers. No cotton.
- Sun cream, lip balm and sun glasses
- Sun hat and knit cap, preferably synthetic or wool.
- Water bottle, at least one-litre. Some guides also recommend a hydration system, such as MSR Hydrometry (a more durable version of Camelbak).