6 (2 draglifts)
Total lift vert:
Grindelwald is world-famous for the spectacular scenery of the Berner Oberland, including unbeatable panoramas of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. This First side together with the Männlichen side, over Kleine Scheidegg towards Wengen and also over on the Mürren / Schilthorn side makes up the Jungfrau region and offers a very popular tourist destination with plenty of varied skiing.
This does mean, however, that you're much more likely to hear British English in the lift queues and restaurants than Swiss German, and it also means that the prices can be kept high without massive investment in the infrastructure - beware horrendous queues for the morning gondola and unmanned, unprepared drag lifts.
Having said that, the queues once you're up are not too bad, and there's plenty of artificial snow being pumped in the early season. And the views of the Wetterhorn and Eiger in the afternoon sun are quite special.
For a zoomable, scrollable map of the areas, see this online map using Openstreetmap or Opencyclemap.
By train, Grindelwald is reached in around half an hour from Interlaken Ost, and then from the station you'll have either a walk or a shuttle bus to the lifts. The "Snow and Rail" tickets from the SBB include, as always, return train travel and a day's lift pass.
From Zurich by train, you need to change in Bern and Interlaken, with a total time of around 2h50m, plus a walk or a shuttle bus to the lifts, making it a bit far (and pricey) for a day trip. The "Snow and Rail" ticket from Zurich (with a halbtax card) is currently a hefty CHF 92 for a single day or CHF 140 for 2 days (not including accommodation, of course).
By car from Zurich, it's a long but scenic run through Luzern and over the Brünig pass to Interlaken, and then up the Grindelwald valley, taking around 2 hours. Once you get there, the lift pass itself (halbtax not valid) costs a not inconsiderable CHF 56. Parking is a bit problematic in the centre of Grindelwald (if you can find a space, reckon on CHF 12 for 12 hours' parking), you might have to use the park-and-ride car parks outside the centre.
On the First side, the slopes are all south-facing, so get plenty of sunshine during the day. There's only one way up, with the looooong gondola up through Bort and Schreckfeld to First. From there you've got a variety of blues and reds, and a handful of 4-seater chairlifts and T-bar drag lifts to choose from. Apart from a couple of bumpy and steep bits, most of this is quite easy stuff. There are a couple of home runs to choose from, at the time of writing the number 22 from Schreckfeld takes you almost right into the village, with only a few grassy patches thanks to the artificial snow.
Apart from snowboarding and skiing, there is also winter walking here, with trails leading up to the Faulhorn and through the forest between First and Bort. For the keen sledger, the hike up to the Faulhorn can be finished off with a looooong sledge run all the way down to Grindelwald. Cushion highly advised, it's allegedly 15km long!
No really nasty flat spots on the First side, although the blue number 1 from Oberjoch may require scooting. Also the number 22 home run has a couple of scooting bits.
15 January 2005 - Snow conditions still patchy, with stones and grass being natural hazards. The conditions on the First side seem better than those on the Männlichen side.
31 December 2004 - Not a great deal of snow yet, but everything is open with just a few grassy patches to watch out for. No real park to speak of, but there are a few bumps near the top of the Oberjoch chairlift.
The official website is at jungfrauwinter.ch, with a piste map including the neighbouring regions (Männlichen, Wengen and Mürren) as well. Snow'n'Rail details are at railaway.ch. Snow conditions are at snow-forecast.com.
For hiking in the Grindelwald area, see the Alpine Pass Route which comes over the Grosse Scheidegg and Kleine Scheidegg. Or there are several ideal day hikes in the area, including the Faulhorn, around Wengen and under the Eiger.