The Grimsel Pass links the Hasli Valley in the Bernese Oberland with Goms in Valais. The pass road runs through a wild, sparsely grown mountainous region marked by granite rocks, reservoir lakes, and power plants.
Innertkirchen near the holiday resort of Meiringen is the starting point of two impressive pass roads. The Susten Pass leads eastward to Central Switzerland. Southward, a splendidly constructed road climbs in large bends in the direction of the Grimsel Pass. In the Guttannen, the “Crystal Village”, one can admire crystals of all sizes in the Prospector’s Museum. The road ascends through canyons of wild beauty that get narrower and narrower. Hydroelectric power plants, high voltage power lines and high reservoir lake walls dominate the landscape on the northern side of the Grimsel Pass.
With a gradient of 106%, the Gelmerbahn, the world’s steepest funicular, ascends from Handeck to the picturesque Gelmer Lake, the starting point of a hiking loop around the reservoir lake (approx. 2-hour hike). A second train, the aerial cable car from Handeck to Gerstenegg, is partially operational for skiers during the winter months, when the Grimsel Pass Road is closed. narrower and narrower. Hydroelectric power plants, high voltage power lines and high reservoir lake walls dominate the landscape on the northern side of the Grimsel Pass.
You travel past steep rocks and through tunnels to the dam of the Räterichbodensee (a reservoir lake), and a little later to the dam of the Grimsel Lake. Near the Grimsel Lake’s dam, you will find the Grimsel Hospiz atop a rock, the Nollen (1980m). Today it is a cozy hotel with a wonderful view of the Lauteraarhorn and the lake. An Adventure Trail leads from the Grimsel Hospiz back to Handeck through an area with one of the richest mineral deposits in the Alps.
In the past, mule traders transported Swiss cheese on dizzying paths to Piedmont. The Piedmont traders brought wine, rice, corn and leather in exchange. The exchange trade often took place in the old Hospiz, which is today flooded by the reservoir lake. An exhibition at Grimsel Hospiz informs visitors about the use of hydropower for generating electricity. The Power Plant management offers a guided tour of the facilities that starts in Innertkirchen and takes several hours.
On the ridge of the pass (at 2165 meters) is the Totensee, or Lake of the Dead, which got its name during the Napoleonic wars. On the Valaisian side one travels on a well-constructed road with many long bends down to Gletsch in Obergoms (1759m). Here one has a fine panoramic view of the Rhone Glacier and the Furka Pass road. In the huge Grand Hotel Glacier du Rhône in Gletsch one can still enjoy the early 19th century atmosphere of the Alpine Passes’ heyday. Gletsch is also the starting point of the Furka Steam Railway.