Grindelwald, Switzerland is an absolute winter wonderland. The towering Bernese Alps could easily swallow the little town whole, but instead, stand steady and majestic as adventure-giving pillars to the Jungfrau Region. World-class views, skiing, snowboarding, hiking and SLEDGING. Yes, sledging—regardless of how many times my brain defaults to sledding.
We arrived in Grindelwald via Swiss Rail—11/10 recommend this method for bopping around Switzerland—from the southern town of Zermatt. After hopping off the train, we had a pleasant 10-minute stroll through town to our very humble accommodation, First Lodge. Let's just say that the lady at the tourist office had never heard of it. And it's a very small town. Anywho, it was precious and had everything we needed, including a perfect morning breakfast buffet of croissants and yogurt. The cherry on top? It was located right next to the Grindelwald First - Top of Adventure gondola lift.
We rented sledges (sleds) at a small rental shop outside of First Lodge. You can rent them practically anywhere in Grindelwald. Ours were around $15 each for the day. A steal compared to skiing! The most expensive part was buying the gondola tickets up to the main ski area (~$40). After purchasing, we hopped right into a lift, sleds in hand and rode up about 25 minutes alongside a sweet, old Italian couple casually en route to their daily hike in the Swiss Alps. Ha!
After reaching the top, we had NO clue what we were in for. Anything I write to attempt to describe the majesty and magic of the larger-than-life mountains will simply fall short. They are breathtaking from anywhere, but up in them—indescribable. A horizon filled with mountain peaks. Soft Swiss music in the background. This was real life.
The kicker was... we didn't sled down from here. Rather, we had a 3 hour UPHILL, SNOWY hike in our future to reach the very top of Bussalp: the longest sled run in the world. I'll be completely frank and say that had we known the treachery of this walk, the sheer scale of the challenge it would be... we probably wouldn't have started. And what a shame that would have been! Because it's all about the climb, am I right? Cue Miley.
I write this because they don't tell you how difficult the hike is. On a map, it simply looks like a slight incline to Faulhorn—the peak the trail begins it's downhill descent at. However, we soon found that we would be leaning into the mountain, small steps, left, right, to get to our destination. The scenery was otherworldly. With all the stops we took, we had ample opportunity to take it all in. Dillon struggled—hard—but I sang The Climb to get us through in times of doubt. I don't think it helped him.
You don't realize it until you are two hours in, but there is no turning back. Once you start the uphill descent, it's harder to go back than it is to just grit it out to the top. Edging to the top was no joke as mountains truly do make their own weather. The Jungfrau Region was no exception as the winds picked up and the sky darkened towards the top. Reaching the top was a glorious thing. Though we had no energy for a proper celebration, reflecting back on the accomplishment is a reward in itself.
We wasted no time kicking it into gear. We sledged downhill for nearly 2.5 hours, weaving in and out of the alps and the gorgeous wooden, (and seemingly empty for the winter) chateaus. Enjoy our journey in video form for a better experience:
Tips for sledding the world's longest sled run, Bussalp:
Wear waterproof hiking boots
Bring a snack and water, but keep it light
Wear sunglasses—the snow is bright
Have a POSITIVE attitude because it. is. incredible.
Give yourself around 6 hours for the entire trip
Note: your feet are your brakes
Signing off, but one last tip—if you ever have the pleasure of experiencing Bussalp and all of its glory, you will likely not be able to sled the entire way down to Grindelwald. At some point (at least during our experience) you will need to bus the last leg. Make sure to ask if your gondola pass will cover that bus ride. For us it did, which made it smooth sailing to the bottom.