Kleine Scheidegg from the north
|Elevation||2,061 m (6,762 ft)|
Kleine Scheidegg (elevation 2,061 m, 6,762 ft) is a high mountain pass below and between the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland. It connects Grindelwald with Lauterbrunnen. The name means "minor watershed", even though it is actually higher than the neighbouring Grosse Scheidegg. Possibly this is because Kleine Scheidegg is a watershed between the two arms of the Lütschinen river, while Grosse Scheidegg divides the Lütschinen valleys from the Reichenbach.
Located at Kleine Scheidegg is the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes and the Kleine Scheidegg railway station, which serves the two rack railways, the Wengernalpbahn (since 1893) and the Jungfraubahn (since 1896). The Wengernalpbahn has two branches: one begins at Grindelwald; the other commences at Lauterbrunnen and climbs to the pass via Wengen. The Jungfraubahn climbs steeply through tunnels inside the Eiger and Mönch mountains up to its terminal at the Jungfraujoch.
In winter, Kleine Scheidegg is the centre of the ski area around Grindelwald and Wengen. In summer, it is a popular hiking destination, and is one of the passes crossed by the Alpine Pass Route. The Jungfrau Marathon, a mountain race that takes place every year in early September, ends at Kleine Scheidegg.
Kleine Scheidegg is among the most celebrated mountain passes in the Swiss Alps because of its position just north of the point where the Bernese Alps makes a salient angle, whose apex is the Eiger. From there, a series of high peaks rise in line towards the northeast, on the left side of the trail that follows a direct route from Meiringen, southwest across the Grosse Scheidegg, to Kleine Scheidegg. On the south side of the apex at the Eiger, the still higher summits of the Mönch, Jungfrau, Gletscherhorn, and Mittaghorn follow in succession from north to south.
Hidden by the Eiger from the vantage point of Grindelwald, the Mönch and Jungfrau break upon the traveller at Kleine Scheidegg in full grandeur, rising from the narrow gorge of the Trümmletental. Three comparatively large glaciers, with several minor accumulations of ice, are found in the hollows and on the shelving ledges of the three peaks that rise above the Trümmletental. The Eiger Glacier lies in the recess between the Eiger and the Mönch. This is separated by a huge projecting buttress of the latter mountain from the Guggi Glacier. Farther on is the Giessen Glacier, formed, at a higher level than the two last, on a shelf of the northwest side of the Jungfrau.
In popular culture
In the summer of 1974, Clint Eastwood and his cast and crew stayed at the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes at Kleine Scheidegg while filming The Eiger Sanction (1975). Several scenes were filmed in and around the hotel.
The 2008 film North Face (film), about Toni Kurz and Andreas Hinterstoisser's 1936 attempt to climb the Eiger north face, was shot to a great extent at the Hotel Bellevue des Alpes. Footage of the mountain's profile was also shot from Kleine Scheidegg's vantage point, though the climbing scenes were created mostly using green screen and CGI.
- Ball, John. The Alpine Guide: Central Alps. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1869, p. 72.
- Teller, Matthew. The Rough Guide to Switzerland. Second Edition. London: Rough Guides, 2003, p. 303.
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