I kind of took a break from the hiking today and headed up to Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe) by train. This area is located in the saddle between the Jungfrau and Monch mountains. At Jungfraujoch there is an ice castle inside the glacier, a few restaurants, several observation decks, a building called Sphinx that contains an observatory (elevation 11760 feet), areas outside for playing in the snow above a glacier, and a series of tunnels, stairs, and elevators that connects them all together.
It took two trains to get to Jungfraujoch. One train went from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg and another from there to the top. Both trains ran on narrow gauge tracks with a strip of teeth up the middle. The trains had gears on all cars that grabbed onto those teeth to safely pull them up and down the very stepped mountain slopes. The first train passed through a few short tunnels, however the second spent most of the time inside a tunnel in the top of the mountain.
It took about two hours to get to the top, that included stops at various stations on the way up. The trip back down at the end of the day was a little quicker, about an hour and a half, because we didn't stop as much. The train rides were definitely a place for meeting people. Today I meet all kinds of people from all around the globe (USA, England, India, and Korea).
I originally planned on doing some hiking on the way down, but that was because I had no idea how much time you could spent at the top. As it turned out there was no time for that.
The following map shows my trip up to Jungfraujoch, which was a climb (by train) of about 9200 feet. The route was extracted from my GPS device again. Note that there are no GPS signals inside mountains so I have no data from the time spent inside the mountain and that appears as faint straight lines connecting the entrance/exit of the tunnel to the top, although the train took a much longer route. The train parked inside the mountain, so all of the GPS track at the top was recorded while I was on foot.
Here's shot out of the first train as we left Lauterbrunnen.
This is the train station at Kleine Scheidegg. The north face of Eiger mountain is in the right of the photo.
We are just about to enter the tunnel for the rest of the trip to the top.
The ice castle inside the glacier. It's neat, but compared to the view outside it's nothing too special. It contained several passage ways and various ice carvings.
The "plateau" to the west of the Sphinx, one of several areas providing spectacular views.
That's the Sphinx up there with the observatory on the top. The trains stop inside the mountain almost directly below that building.
The above photo was taken from near that cliff in the center of this photo where several people are standing. The Jungfrau mountain is in the background.
Kleine Scheidegg, where we switched trains, is down there on the right of the photo. Lauterbrunnen, where my hotel is located, is behind the hill to the left of center in this photo.
Looking down and to the east from the Sphinx. Those little dots are people. I ended my stay up at the top by hiking from roughly the bottom center of this picture to beyond the top left of the picture. You can kind of see the path in the snow.
Schilthorn, where I was yesterday, is just behind the chain in front of me. I only got glimpses of it from here as it spent most of the day hidden behind clouds.
This is a big glacier behind the Jungfrau and Monch mountains.
Part of the observation deck around the Sphinx, with Monch Mountain in the background.
The building that houses the observatory on the Sphinx.
The Sphinx is on the nearer peak above and to the right of me. The Jungfrau mountain is in the background.
The Monchsjochhutte restaurant up on the side of the mountain, where I hiked to from the Sphinx. The up hill hike was in somewhat slushy and heavy snow, but it only took a little over 45 minutes to get there and 30 minutes to get back. It would have been nice to have my snow shoes or at a least a toboggan for the way down.
The view to the east of the restaurant.
Another photo of the Sphinx. It was taken from near the Monchsjochhutte restaurant.
The Sphinx again. Note the people down around the base. Some where snow boarding, others were skying, and others were repelling down a long cable on the right earlier in the day.
One of the entrances to the tunnel system inside the mountain.
Some of the tunnels.
This photo was taken from the Kleine Scheidegg train station. The Monch mountain is on the left, the Jungfrau on the right, and the Sphinx is in the saddle in the middle just above the second window from the front of that train.
That's the Eiger mountain. It's north face (left half of the photo) is being affected by a major low pressure system which is causing that side to be covered in clouds. I wouldn't want to be climbing in that like Clint Eastwood did in the movie Eiger Sanction.