SWITZERLAND・THE ELEGANT ALPINE PASS
GRIMSEL PASS | SWISS ALPS
GRIMSEL PASS DRIVE
The Grimsel Pass in Switzerland links the Hasli Valley in the Bernese Highlands and the Goms district in the Valais. It zigzags trough towering granite, tunnels, past hazy blue water reservoirs and hydroelectric power plants.
The 38 kilometre / 24 miles long alpine pass it is also one of the highest paved roads in Europe and has usually only little traffic. The breathtakingly beautiful mountain road in this pristine landscapes with quaint villages and deep valleys make it an absolute drivers paradise that goes up to 2164 meters above sea level.
When we drove the Grimsel the first time, it made us feel confident about alpine pass driving. The pass is often wide enough to overtake (or be overtaken) and has relatively long straight stretches that allows drivers to take the focus off the road for a few seconds to enjoy the wonderful scenery. Whenever we felt the need to stop we found a space where it was safe to park and get out of the car to take a few pictures. The incredible views and our wonderful lunch at Restaurant Grimsel Hospice made the experience just what we needed and kind of expected.
Since Roman times the Grimsel was used as a trading route and mule track. Mentioned in documents in the 14th century for the first time, it was the 1800s when the Gotthard Railway opened and the alpine pass became famous. Back then also the explorers Horace Bénédict de Saussure and Franz Josef Hugi chose the Grimsel as the centre of their alpine research. From 1894 the pass was used by carriages and upgraded to a paved road. Todays layout has been reached in 1986 mostly because several hydro-electric power plants were constructed in the area till 1950, which produce today the annual energy consumption of a million Swiss residents. Starting in early 2019 the old dam wall will be replaced with a new construction.
Usually open from late May till early November and closed during the winter month. Once weather and avalanche conditions allow the Grimsel Pass will be opened. Constantly updated opening status information on the Grimsel Pass is available online.
With an inclination of 106 percent; Europe's steepest mountain railway will take passengers to picturesque Lake Gelm. Originally built to transport heavy goods up and down the mountains, today the Gelm funicular provide a modern time adventure to thrill seeking tourists.
In the middle of the pass we recommend to stop at Grimsel Hospice on top of a towering peninsula inside the artificial Lake Grimsel. After the old construction dating back to 1142 (also the first Swiss guesthouse) was flooded, the new building welcomes guests since 1932. Thanks to power plants and the artificial water reservoirs it was also the first electrically heated hotel in Europe. Today it is a hotel historic hotel with modern rooms and good honest Swiss food at the restaurant. The right place to enjoy an authentic Swiss lunch or even stay overnight. To reach the Grimsel Hospice you will also drive over the dam walls - another eventful experience up on this spectacular alpine pass.
THE "BIG 3"
The Susten-Grimsel-Furka Alpine Pass Route is collectively referred to as the "BIG 3" and make together a hundred-twenty kilometre of ultra-scenic driving in the Swiss Alps.
Susten Pass - 46 kilometres / 30 miles - 2260 meter / 7414 ft altitude
Grimsel Pass - 38 kilometres / 24 miles - 2164 meters / 7099 ft altitude
Furka Pass - 40 kilometres / 25 miles - 2341 meters / 7680 ft altitude