Lonely evening atmosphere at Grimsel Pass

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Sports & Travel, Story

It is pitch dark around us. As we turn the corner, only the light from our headlamps reflects in the headlights of our van, which we finally reach. We quickly take off our shoes and scurry into the cozy warmth that awaits us here. I plop down on the seat – finally windless.

We are at the Grimsel Pass and have parked our van on the official parking lot a bit off the pass road. By now it is half past ten in the evening. Exactly five hours ago we left here for our hike. With photo equipment and dinner in the backpacks, it went for us in the evening hours up the mountain.

Far above the road noise
In the summer months, unfortunately, you have to work hard to find peace and quiet on the Grimsel Pass. Too much excursion traffic makes for constant noise around the roads of the alpine passes.

Why we hike in the evening

Our planned tour is not exactly brimming with altitude meters or distance and probably everyone would expect that we are not back in the middle of the night. The ascent can be done in one and a half to two hours with 500 meters of altitude and the way back is even faster. “Normal” people would leave for this hike in the morning, but at the latest in the early afternoon and definitely be back at the top of the pass before dusk. With us, however, it usually happens a little differently and that has several reasons.

On the one hand, we naturally want to use the best light for photography when we are on the mountain. In other words, we often aim for the golden and blue hour. The soft light and the long shadows during this time contribute significantly to successful photos.

Another reason, which may not be so obvious to many, is the frequentation of certain places. Our motto is usually: Avoid crowds. We don’t like to stand with ten or even a hundred other people in one place and jostle for the best view. The later the evening (or vice versa, the earlier the morning), the fewer people are to be found anywhere in the mountains. That’s why we very often try to be out and about at marginal times, even if that means getting up early or coming back late, as we did today.

The Obergoms in Valais
While the last rays of sunlight illuminate the mountains around Obergoms, shadows already reign in the valleys and the first lamps are switched on.

Evening red over the Grimsel Pass

We reach our destination today just in time for dinner. At 7 p.m. we are standing all alone at the small mountain lake and by now our stomachs are rumbling. Instead of reaching for bread and cheese, however, the camera comes into play first. From our perspective, the sun is just setting behind the next mountain and of course we want to use the last rays for a few photos, including sun stars.

Related fine art prints

At some point, however, the hunger becomes too big and we finally unpack our dinner. Fresh bread and good cheese are waiting for us. However, it is not really comfortable here to enjoy a good snack. The icy wind blows around our noses and so we spend the next hours alternately eating and taking pictures so that we don’t get too cold.

While Falko prepares a panoramic shot, I sneak along the lake with my camera and how could it be otherwise, I get stuck of course on a clump with flowers. I just can not go past it and with the reflecting water surface in the background I am more than satisfied with the result.

Idyllic jewel on the Grimsel Pass
Around the Grimsel Pass there are not only the reservoirs, but also natural mountain lakes can be found in various places.

Loud and semi-strong on alpine roads

However, we are both less satisfied with the background noise, which is still very impressive (in a negative way) even up here. Despite the advanced time of day, the stretch up to the Furka Pass is still bustling. Cars and motorcycles flaunt little IQ and lots of horsepower – it’s simply embarrassing, annoying and ridiculous.

The Alps, a sensitive habitat that is actually worth protecting, have increasingly become society’s playground in recent decades. At least at the easily accessible places like pass summits or mountain stations. The effects of this fun society, however, are not limited to the roads or mountain restaurants, but extend far and wide. The noise can be heard for miles by thousands of uninvolved people and especially animals, and where there are many people, there is usually also a lot of trash. How can this continue?

However, the effects of the fun society are not limited to the streets or mountain restaurants.

It makes us thoughtful and angry that our nature, the mountains and glaciers are seen as something to be taken for granted, although they are more than transient. This summer we get to feel this again painfully.

Nevertheless, we try to enjoy this unique landscape and the further the sun disappears below the horizon and the light becomes dimmer, the more the long-awaited silence returns.

"The freedom of the individual ends where the freedom of others begins."
How a country like Switzerland, which calls itself progressive and environmentally friendly, wants to reconcile the chaotic, selfish and sometimes almost antisocial conditions on the Alpine passes with the desired and necessary climate neutrality is not only a mystery to us.

One sky – all colors

So that we are still with the last twilight back at the top of the pass, we decide soon for the descent. I am now incredibly cold from the icy wind and I’m glad that we finally move for a longer time. But my joy does not last long. No sooner have we descended a few meters in altitude than the sun flashes once again around the neighboring ridge and paints endlessly long shadows on the rocks in front of us. Schreck- and Finsteraarhorn, Matterhorn and all the other peaks we can look at from up here shine in the most beautiful evening light and we can hardly believe that we get to experience this view all to ourselves.

But of course, these sights do not at all contribute to our speedy progress. Actually, we don’t get off the ground at all. Because no sooner have we captured one motif than the next one appears. A few wispy clouds over the Grimsel Lake or granite slabs shining in the last sun at the edge of the path.

It gets later and later and darker and darker, but of course the highlight always comes at the end. Before the last light of the day is completely extinguished, the entire sky above the Bernese Oberland glows in all colors from bright yellow to intense orange to red and violet, before everything is lost in an ever darkening blue. An incredible sight that this evening has in store for us.

Exclusive color atmosphere
Only with the necessary condition, alpine surefootedness and appropriate equipment and know-how are the places accessible, where such moments are granted to us.

When light and motivation fade

And then – it’s over. As if someone had pulled the plug, all the colors suddenly fade. The light fades in a matter of minutes, and just as quickly we are overcome by a nasty hunger and leaden fatigue. The wind we’ve been standing in, photographing and marveling at for the last few hours has sapped our strength. We are frozen through and the last meters of altitude we take rather little motivated under the feet. But what is Falko’s favorite saying? Exactly: “It’s not far anymore” (by the way, it doesn’t matter how far it is ;-)). But this time he is actually right and shortly after we enter the parking lot where our van is waiting for us.

Exhausted, the backpacks are quickly stowed away and before we throw ourselves into the feathers, there’s in the warm car again properly snack – without wind and with extremely good mood.

Searching for the light
The westerly, low sun makes for indescribable scenes on this summer evening near the Grimsel Pass.

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