About Trummelbach Falls (Trümmelbachfälle)
Trummelbach Falls (also Trümmelbachfall or Trümmelbachfälle in German; pronounced “TRHEUH-mull-bahkh-fell-uh”) was one of the more unique waterfalling experiences to be had. What made this waterfall stand out was that it was nestled deep in a slot canyon carved out by the powerful waterfall itself, and the only way to even see the falls was to go on the subterranean walk bringing us face-to-face with its various chutes. When Julie and I walked part of the road between this waterfall and Stechelberg, all we could see was the dark slot canyon but not much of the falls. So we weren’t kidding when we say we had to get close to even see parts of the waterfall in action.
The power of the falls came from meltwaters that were once either snow or glaciers nestled above and below the Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger peaks as well as the glaciers in between them. And considering that they were generally covered in snow and ice year-round (which we could appreciate after we had gone on the Jungfraujoch [the Top of Europe] excursion) there was an awful lot of water in there!
The tight confines of the slot canyon resulted in some sculpted walls with interesting shapes and patterns. The last time we saw such effects were from the slot canyons carved out by flash floods in Utah. However in this instance, the constantly rushing waters plunged, slid, jumped, pirouetted, and corkscrewed their way down to Lauterbrunnen Valley. In some parts of the slot canyon, there seemed to be a damp mistiness to the air, which was something I think I had only experienced where there were waterfalls within a cave. Technically, Trummelbach Falls wasn’t in a cave, but it certainly felt like we were in one!
The slot canyon adventure also had an advantage in that if the weather turned out to be crummy, we could still do this excursion with no real impact to the overall experience (except maybe the views of Lauterbrunnen Valley in a couple of spots along the walkway might be clouded over). That was why we visited this waterfall in the afternoon when we knew the mostly fair skies of the morning tended to give way to afternoon thundershowers.
We paid about 11 Swiss Francs per person to get through the gate. Just beyond it, there was a funicular that rose up a dark tunnel until we were somewhere between the 5th and 6th chutes. From there, we had a choice of going up or going down. We were also treated to very nice views of Lauterbrunnen Valley and Staubbach Falls if we looked northwards as well as the Aegertenbach Falls and Murrenbach Falls if we looked across the valley towards the south.
We first went up, which took us on an out-and-back walkway ascending up several stairs and slippery corridors to a dead-end near the 10th chute. Along the way, we saw chutes 6 through 10. Chute 6 was probably the most photographed one (see photo at the top of this page) because the walkway circled the waterfall before we went right past its top. Thus, we were able to peer right into the twisty abyss as the chute plunged and disappeared loudly into the darkness.
Once we were beyond chute 6, we were immediately within the artificially lit confines of the upper slot canyon itself as the path precariously followed along the rushing stream (which was loudly moving right below us) towards chute 7. The path then ascended past chute 7 towards the very misty chute 8. We could see this chute from a few positions, including a very wet one as the crashing waters inundated the area with its mist (making photography extremely difficult).
Beyond chute 8, we went up a flight of stairs until the walkway opened up again. From the chamber-like open area, we could gaze down upon chute 8 as well as get a glimpse of chute 9. There was enough of an opening here where we started to see a little bit of daylight above us. In fact, we managed to see a faint (almost lunar-like) rainbow in the mist of chute 8 thanks to the sliver of daylight that managed to penetrate and reflect amongst the slot canyon walls.
A few paces higher up the walkway brought us to the dead-end right next to the compact chute 10, which thundered and crashed into the neighboring plunge pool before it drained over chute 9 (which we couldn’t see all that well) in the darkness. This was the turnaround point so we returned via the way we came to the funicular exit.
From the funicular exit, we then descended a few flights of stairs in the daylight providing a brief bit of recovery time (from Vitamin D deficiency) before we were plunged back into the darkness and echoing loudness of crashing waters. That was where we looked down at chutes 5 and 4. There was even a signpost somewhere in this area indicating “Corkscrew Falls” right below us, which was really nothing more than a part of the watercourse where there was a tight swirl before the water continued further downstream.
After descending a few more stairs alongside chute 3, the path opened up into daylight again, where we could see the last 2 chutes below separated by a footbridge between them. Before long, we were back at the funicular entrance.
But before we considered the excursion over, we recalled there was still one last footpath that we had yet to explore by the funicular entrance.
Indeed, there was a side path that gently ascended to the right of the funicular entrance along the cliff before putting us on that bridge between chutes 2 and 1. During our visit, there was a waterwheel shooting out from chute 2 sometimes spilling directly onto the bridge itself! Shortly beyond the bridge, the path ended as we got a nice view of chute 1 falling right into the remainder of the stream as it rushed further downstream to join the main river running through Lauterbrunnen Valley.
All in all, we spent about 1 hr and 15 minutes at the falls, which reflected our very leisurely pace with photo stops and the one-way funicular ride.
The entrance to Trummelbach Falls sits between Lauterbrunnen town and the cable car station leading up to Gimmelwald, Murren, and Schilthorn (it’s right in front of Murrenbach Falls). The short bus ride from either stop typically leaves at half-hour intervals (it takes over a half-hour to walk the 3km distance between the stops from either side).
The bus will drop you off right in front of the Trummelbach Cafe, where you walk a short distance past some signs and along a little meadow before reaching the gate where you pay for admission. Note that the buses were covered by our Swiss Rail Pass.
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