Looking Back at the Tschuggen – Start of the Ascent, a photo by Flights. Camera. Satisfaction. on Flickr.
At the end of my walk to the Männlichen cable-car station from Kleine Scheidegg the real challenge began, although I didn’t know it at the time! The ascent to the top of the Männlichen is only around 1.6km in length and you gain just over 100m in height. Looking up at it from the cable-car station it didn’t look too bad, so I nonchalantly set off to reach the summit.
I was at around 2200m which I did not think of as very high. I had just been to the Top of Europe at the Jungfraujoch reaching over 3400m. I laughed in the face of 2200m after being up there! Evidently I wasn’t laughing quite so hard as after less than 5 minutes I was absolutely exhausted. I looked up and could see that I still had a very long way to go, and it only got steeper. I could feel my heart beating in my head and I knew that was a sign of serious altitude sickness. My mood had changed from one of joyfully walking up the mountain to concerns that I would faint at any moment. I decided to take it a little slower from that point on, one step at a time and lots of stops to rest and catch my breath.
When I finally reached the summit I felt a great sense of relief and accomplishment. The views from the top were slightly disappointing but I felt like I had achieved something in getting there, even though it only took 25 minutes. It was a hard 25 minutes and I was right there at the peak taking in the view. I thought that my struggle in making it to the top was down to my complete lack of fitness, and whilst that’s probably true I was quite pleased to see other people huffing and puffing when they got there as well.
My legs were aching more than I could ever remember, but the way back down was much easier. I could spend a bit more time thinking about the beautiful area of the world I was in, taking photos and enjoying the view. If I was to return I don’t think I’d walk to the top of the Männlichen a second time. It was great to do it once, but the views were probably not worth the climb given that it left me completely exhausted for the rest of the day. I expect if the skies had been clearer the views would have been much more spectacular with the backdrop of the Jungfrau and Eiger mountains in full view. Unfortunately it was not to be while I was visiting. If you’re planning to reach the summit I would recommend leaving it for the end of the day, as if you’re anything like me you’ll need some time to recover afterward. It’s probably not the best way to start a trek in the mountains!
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