Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Waterfall Hidden in a Mountain (Trümmelbach Falls, Switzerland)

If one location can summarise the travel wonder of the European Alps and Switzerland, it is Interlaken and the Bernese Oberland. Sandwiched between two sparkling azure lakes, Interlaken stares at the towering giants of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and the snaking icy river, Aletsch Glacier, which is Europe’s longest. Beautiful days in nature can be spent wandering between the traditional mountain villages and through the scenic verdant valleys.

One excellent journey starts by taking a train from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and walking around five kilometers along a well sign-posted route to Trümmelbach Falls. The crisp fresh air, the amphitheatre of mountains, the tranquil setting and the glorious blooming wildflowers all brighten the steps and quicken the stride. Glorious waterfalls tumble down niches in the rock walls, none more impressive than the 300 metres Staubbach Falls that seemingly tumbles into Lauterbrunnen itself and gives it its name of Valley of Loud Waters.

In under an hour, the path crosses a small bridge with a raging torrent of water (turns out to be the bottom of Trümmelbach Falls) and an elevator which shoots to the top of the falls. Step out and meet a wall of deafening noise. Trümmelbach Falls gushes and carves its way down a tortured path of twists and turns having gouged its tumultuous journey over many thousands of years. Tiny lookouts onto the gushing water litter the path, the freezing spray stinging the face as small droplets strike unguarded skin. Subtle lighting along the narrow damp pathway and natural shafts of light from crevices in the rock sets an eerie scene with a background of the constant ear-piercing drumming of columns of milky glacial foaming water pounding into rock. Indeed, this waterfall is far more heard than seen.

A tri-lingual sign at the bottom summarises the crescendo of sound in numbers:

"Ten glacier-waterfalls inside the mountain made accessible by tunnel-lift and illuminated. The Trümmelbach alone drains the mighty glacier defiles of Eiger (3970m), Monk (4099m) and Jungfrau (4158m) and carries 20,200 tons of boulder detritus per year. Its drainage area is 24 sq km, half of it covered by snow and glaciers. Up to 20,000 litres of water per second. The only glacier-waterfalls in Europe inside the mountain and still accessible."

It is certainly worth a short journey through this mountain hideaway waterfall as a break from the visual feast of stupendous Swiss mountain and verdant valley beauty. The intensity of the sound from the huge volumes of water escaping the narrow rocky passage test the hearing but leave an incredible impression of the outrageous power of nature and time.

Photo Source: map, mountains


Barbara @ Hole In The Donut Travels said...

I was fascinated by Trummelbach when I visited in 2007. I simply couldn't imagine a waterfall inside a mountain. You have some amazing photos - it was a hard place to catch a good shot, between the darkness and the rapid water, but you've done it!

Mark H said...

@barbara: It is an extraordinary place and not something I've experinced anywhere else. I was lucky that it was fairly quiet when I was there and a bit out of season. Tricky to take photos but these few came out pretty well (take lots and some normally work!!) - I screwed up any shots of the Eiger/Jungfrau and needed to "steal" one from Flickr to set the scene.

Final_Transit said...

Sounds very interesting!

*lynne* said...

Oh cool! Unfortunately, I have no idea if I've seen this before. I've been to the Interlaken area a few times, twice to Murren, which seems to be close to these Trummelbach Falls, but... somehow... it wasn't on the family's itinerary, I suppose. Perhaps next time then.

Mark H said...

@final_transit: Great to visit indeed.

@lynne: That gives you an excuse to return. It wasn't well advertsied when I was there. I found out about it by someone telling me when Ia sked about a good place to go walking when in Interlaken. Murren is a stunning and superb place too and looks closer than Lauterbrunnen on the little mud map I put in the post. Maybe there isn't a path from there.

JessieV said...

sooo gorgeous! we'll have to check it out next time we're in the area.

Vera Marie Badertscher said...

Definitely will put on my itinerary for next year's visit. But did you know there's a waterfall deep inside a mountain at Lookout Mountain in Tennessee (near Chattanooga.)

Brandon said...

Pictures do not begin to show how powerfull this water fall is. Yes you can see how cool it is that water has flowed for thousands of years and cut this rock into unimaginable shapes and colors. But the true is beauty is experience when you stand next to the falls, and feel the thousands of gallons of water and the COLD temps, things you cant get in a pic. Brandon 2009

Mark H said...

@brandon: Excellent summary of the falls. It is a falls to be experienced with all your senses.

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