In all the years I’ve lived in Switzerland and toured the Bernese Oberland, there are few places I haven’t visited. One of the omissions has been rectified, as we visited the Trümmelbach Falls, in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, today.
The falls bring water down from the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau massiv and much of the water from what’s left of the glacier fields on the southern flanks of the trio channels its way down to the valley by way of the Trümmelbach. (Bach meaning stream in German.) It’s more than a stream by the time it reaches the falls, where it has worn its way through the rock over millenia to produce a series of ten spectacular drops within the cliffs.
The force of the water and the sound it makes gives the falls their name: Trommel means drum in German. Access was opened to the public in 1877, so that visitors can experience the wonder of the falls for themselves. You can travel up to the level of the sixth fall by funicular in a tunnel carved out of the rock face, and a series of stairs leads to the topmost fall chute, where water slams into a deep, globe-shaped chamber of its own making.
Scenes all through the complex are wonderful; from the Corkscrew Fall and its spinning water, the second-to-last fall where the water is forced upwards by its own force against the rocks.
The falls are closed in winter, when little water flows, but between April and June – when the mountain snows melt – and between June and September – when the glacial ice melts – there can be up to 20,000 litres of water per second racing through the caves.