[ blog » 2020 » 08_Tour-Alps ] d11: Oberwald to Bern – Grimselpass (by Philipp Gesang, location: Bern campsite)

Grim Grimsel

The combination of long phases of rain and the chilly mountain climate made this night not an overly restful one. To make matters worse, my Garmin Edge had some kind of hiccup that made it lose all configuration data, all bike and activity profiles, all personal records, and all statistics. What the hell? I remember having the same issue once already a few years back; out of the blue, everything was just gone. At least the recorded tracks appear to be still there, phew. In any event I spent the first two hundred meters of altitude on the prelude to the Grimsel configuring that Garmin again to a usable extent. Goes to show that hardware companies just suck at software, Garmin, Olympus, Microsoft, … – the list is long.

After dealing with the Garmin hassle I could focus on the climb again. Much less traffic than yesterday, luckily, and I found the pass almost deserted. A few campervans whose inhabitants were just about to wake up and get ready for another day of burning fossilized plankton; a troop of motos who had already burned their share of plankton; and some early bird hikers. A calm setting.

From the col I took the small one-lane “panorama” road to the glacier which adds another maybe 150 m of altitude but is well worth the effort as the scenery up there is stunning. Like the Rhône glacier, the Oberaar glacier has receded up close to the highest peaks so it takes some time to reach. The road and the barren landscape marked by rocks, not to forget the cold ans humid climate up there reminded me strongly of Scotland.

This resemblance was reinforced by the downhill towards Meiringen – just a few meters below the pass I was engulfed by a dense cloud in which I could barely see fifty meters ahead. Again I patted myself on the back for installing a dynohub and lights on the Croix de Fer, best upgrade in years no doubt. Inside that cloud it started to rain while the temperature had dropped to way below 10 degrees; I fought back by adding some more layers of clothing but I was still shivering until I exited the cloud near Meiringen. Along the way I purchased another pair of brake pads at some small bike shop; that descent again made it clear that the front brake just isn’t as snappy anymore after the series of 2000 m passes during the last few days.


The two lakes that gave Interlaken its name are home to some of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever traveled on. From Brienz on the bicycle route passes by a spectacular waterfall, luxurious hotels situated on rocks and small peninsulas, various town panoramas, everything giving an impression of perfect harmony. It’s astounding, the things money can buy. Interlaken itself is rather tiny but at least I finally got to see the actual ICE train to Interlaken leaving its final destination, after years of traveling in it on the route Heidelberg-Dresden. Not an ICE v4, so no bike compartments, unfortunately.

Thun has some more sights to show, quaint bridges over the Aare, a tidy medieval city center dressed up with flags of the Bern canton and others, a large town hall and an even larger castle. Very inviting, and I would have stayed longer if it hadn’t been for the enormous rain clouds at the horizon which threatened to ruin the last third of the day’s trip.

Toward the Capital

Inevitably, the rain caught up with me and made life miserable for some kilometers. Nothing as bad as up in the mountains so I kept the rain jacket in the pannier. The route flattened out after Thun so at least I didn’t have to climb hills in that condition. It got better soon and by the time I reached the Bern airport the Sky had cleared somewhat.

The campsite is located right on the bank of the Aare and I picked a pitch as close to the river as possible so let’s hope the rain doesn’t cause a flooding overnight. I barely began to relax after hanging up my laundry when it started raining again. Sigh. This day really is Scotland redux.


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