THE ROTSTOCK VIA FERRATA AT EIGER, GRINDELWALD

The Rotstock Via Ferrata is an epic climb right next to the famous North Face Wall of Eiger. Using a harness, stairs and metal stairs you can climb 400m of incline to the 360-degree panoramic viewpoint.

 

Hike Distance: The total hike distance was 5km from the start of the Eiger Trail and up to the summit and then back down to Eigergletscher Station.

Hike Duration: The hike and via ferrata took me a total time of 4 hours but the actual moving time was just 1.5 hours. As you can see I spent a lot of time taking photos, videos and chilling at the summit.

Hike Difficulty: The hike is marked with blue and white alpine trail signs, which is common for a via ferrata. It’s hard to measure the difficulty because you are strapped in on a cable the whole time. I would be comfortable taking an adventurous family on this tour. The incline was moderate compared to the Engelberg Via Feratta, which was directly up a wall. At many points, you could stop and rest. I felt that at any point of danger you were strapped in our had a rope to guide you. Having said all of this, only adventurous and very physically able people should attempt this activity. No prior technical skills or mountaineering expertise required.

Hike Incline: Total incline for the day was about 461m, which was partly done on the via ferrata but also a little bit of incline comes on the hike from Eigergletscher Station along the Eiger Trail to the starting point of the Rotstock Via Ferrata.

 

HOW TO GET TO THE ROTSTOCK VIA FERRATA

The Rotstock Via Ferrata is actually on the Eiger Trail. Therefore the directions to get to Rostock Via Ferrata are the same as they are for the Eiger Trail. I will share those here.

The Eiger Trail begins at the Eigergletscher Train Station and finishes at Alpiglen Train Station (although you can hike down from Alpiglen Train Station back to Grindelwald Grund Station if you prefer). To get to Eigergletscher Train Station is actually a little bit of a mission. 

  • First, you need to arrive at Grund/Grindelwald Train Station and purchase your ticket. You can purchase a ticket all the way through to Eigergletscher Station from Grund although there are two separate trains you will need. At Kleine Scheidegg, you will have to get off and head to the brown sign and line up for the train to Eigergletscher. This station is crazily busy as it is the train to Jungfraujoch ‘Top of Europe’ viewpoint. It was genuinely tourist mayhem with hundreds of people barging around. Don’t worry they won’t all be on the Eiger Trail and pretty much none of them will be on the Via Ferrata. Once you arrive at Eigergletscher Station, you will see the trail on the left-hand side of the tracks as you face the mountains and from that point, it is well signed with the classic yellow signs. The train journey from Grund to Eigergletscher took us about 50-minutes in total including the wait time at Kleine Scheidegg and costs 32.50 CHF, which is about $30 USD. 

We used our Swiss Half-Fare Card so we only had to pay half of the ticket price. You can check the train timetable here for the current schedule to Eigergletscher.

Once you are on the Eiger Trail it is clear sailing. Now you just follow the trail until about 20-mins into the trail you will reach a sign just before the Eiger Wall. It says Rotstock Via Ferrata. Follow that 200m up the hill to the beginning of the Via Ferrata. You will be able to see the ladders from the Eiger Trail if you squint.

 

MY VLOG FROM THE ROTSTOCK VIA FERRATA

 

 

MY EXPERIENCE ON THE ROTSTOCK VIA FERRATA

After the fun of catching all the trains from Interlaken to Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg and finally to Eigergletscher (breathe!) I made it to the start of the Eiger Trail. It was somewhat reminiscent as I had actually already hiked the Eiger Trail, which is unusual for me to return to the same spot. However, on this day, I had a new mission, a bolder mission. I’d stepped it up a level and was taking on the Rotstock Via Ferrata, which deviates off of the Eiger Trail and heads up to a panoramic viewpoint.

For those who don’t know what a Via Ferrata is, it’s basically a series of ladders, steps, and rock climbing that leads you up a wall. You are wearing a harness and clip into a strong wire at the start of the Via Ferrata. From that point, you are always clipped in with at least one clip. Ever 10 steps or so, you reach a new section of wire and you unclip one Caribiner clip from the old section and attach it to the new section. Once it is firmly secured, you unclip the second clip from the old section and also add it to the new section so you now have two Carabiner clips in the new section and you move another ten steps. I created a little vlog-style video and posted it below so you can understand what that explanation actually looks like visually.

The trail starts off with 200m of incline, although it is spread over a couple of kilometers and is nothing too strenuous. At this point, you cannot see Eiger, but the views across the valley and the towering glacial mountains are incredible and there is something to look at in every direction.

A photo from the start of the trail looking down on hikers as they begin the Eiger Trail

Glacier Mountains behind us as we begin the trail

Jagged ridgelines across the valley.

The trail at this point is a gravel path with a lush green valley on one side and a huge wall of mountain on the other. It’s quite a unique trail in this regard, where the aim is more to observe the mountain rather than to climb it.

The start of the trail surrounded by the lush green grass.

 

After 20 minutes, you will reach the Eiger viewing area. It’s about 2km into the trail and there will likely be a little gathering of people and possibly some local cows. Here you will look up towards Eiger Mountain and if you read the signs, you can even identify the path the climbers use to scale the North Face wall of Eiger. This is where you will find the sign for the Rotstock trail, which is the via ferrata. Head right, towards the mountains following the sign and the colored blue and white, painted lines on the rocks. After 200m up the hill, you will reach the start of the via ferrata.

Local cows eating beneath Eiger

 

The via ferrata begins with a series of ladders and bouldering, which were moderately difficult but nothing too exposed or crazy to trigger your fear of heights just yet. It had snowed a few days earlier so that definitely spiced things up for my ascent. After about four ladders and a number of cliff-side cable walks you will reach a little incline. It was interesting that at this point, I actually had to unclip and walk up the hill without being attached. It wasn’t incredibly dangerous but with the snow, it was quite slippery. I would have thought being a via ferrata they would just extend a cable throughout most of the course.

 

The bouldering continues until you reach a bit of a resting point where you detach and can sit and have a snack and fill your water bottle up from one of the waterfalls. I met the only other two people on the trail here and they also took the time to rest after almost 300m of ascent so far.

 

There are only a few sections to go from that point and you traverse the edge of the cliff with the cable until you finally climb on top. However, it is a false summit and you still have a little more climbing to go before you reach the very top where you will find a cross marking the summit. 

 

Behind you is a huge wall of white as the mountains tower over you. To your right is Eiger Wall and in front of you is a wide-open green valley with peaks sprouting up throughout the landscape. I ended up hanging out at the summit for over an hour, taking in this incredible view. I watched as the people walking the Eiger Trail below looked like scurrying ants. 

 

The way down was actually surprising. I assumed we would head back down as there was no backway but a steep path with lots of ropes for assistance leads you down a a scree mountain all the way back to Eigergletscher station. From the summit to Eigergletscher only took about 20-minutes, which was a surprising little timesaver as I was running late to return the gear.

 

I can’t recommend this via ferrata enough and had such a blast, especially hanging out at the summit by myself taking in the views. I felt far away from the madness of Jungfrajoch and even the hoards of tourists on the Eiger Trail. It’s a great way to escape the crowds and go on your own little adventure.

 

BOOKING A TOUR FOR THE ROTSTOCK VIA FERRATA

The Rotstock Via Ferrata is best done in a group. When you book with the tour company, Outdoor Interlaken, they include the transit from Interlaken in a mini-bus, all of the gear, and a guide. You don’t need to worry about the transits, train tickets pick-up times, etc. You just jump in the van and enjoy the day out. Having a guide is sweet as via ferrata can be quite challenging if it is your first time and even though you are strapped in most of the time there are many moments where it can be a bit scary or in fact, on this via ferrata, you aren’t hooked in! If that all sounds good you can check out the details of the Via Ferrata Rotstock Tour by Outdoor Interlaken.

If you are already in Grindelwald you can still do the tour with Outdoor Interlaken OR you can go ahead and rent the gear at Grindelwald Sports (where I picked up mine). They partner with Outdoor Interlaken aswell. I believe it was about $20 USD for Via Ferrata gear and $15 for the helmet, which isn’t too bad!

 

ROTSTOCK VIA FERRATA MAP

I’ve attached my GPX map below, which you can download here for use on your Garmin, smartwatch or another app.

 

 

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