The Jungfraujoch
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A view of the building on the Jungfraujoch, which houses a scientific research station. (©_Switzerland Tourism)
The summit station, inevitably, is a tourist circus of ice sculptures, huskie sleigh rides, glacier walks, a short ski run, dismal restaurants and a post office, all invariably overflowing with tour groups. Nonetheless, panoramic views from the open-air 3571m Sphinx Terrace to Germany’s Black Forest in one direction and across a gleaming wasteland to the Italian Alps in the other are heart-thumping. Yawning away below the silver-domed weather station on top is the mighty Jungfraufirn glacier, which joins up with several others (including the Aletschgletscher, largest in the Alps) at the resonantly named Konkordiaplatz ice plain 3km southeast.

The best way to avoid being smothered by snap-happy crowds is to travel up on the first train of the day, and on arrival follow the signs quickly straight to the Sphinx Terrace – that way, you can snatch five or ten minutes of crisp, undisturbed silence at the loftiest point of all, and be the first of the day to sweep the snow off the railings. At other times, you may have to queue for an hour or more just to get your nose into the fresh air. Once you’ve finished at the terrace, it’s easy to leave the bustling summit station behind and head out across the snows into solitude and silence, although you must stick to the marked trails (crevasses give no warning).

If you’ve had experience of snow hiking in the mountains, and you have good boots, a map, sunglasses and proper clothing, let the tourist office in Interlaken know that you want to head out on the simple one-hour trail from the Jungfraujoch around the base of the Mönch to the Mönchsjochhütte at 3629m (033/971 34 72; April–May & July–Sept; dorms Fr.26) – the isolation of the hut offers a night to remember. You should walk at half pace, or you’ll find yourself dizzy and labouring to catch your breath in the thin atmosphere. A handful of other glacier-bound huts are dotted around the area, but you need a mountain guide and all the professional gear to reach them.

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