So after our all too brief stop in Innsbruck, we headed off on the hottest day thus far to Lake Lucerne, and an inn with a great view of the lake. We put this spot on our itinerary because behind the inn was Pilatus, one of the Alps. For some reason, the heat in our room got to me and I lay on the bed feeling sick until later that evening. Gene ordered a caprese salad for me, which I ended up eating on the balcony of our room after the sun had departed.
The view of Lake Lucerne was spectacular, and we made plans to swim the next day after our trip to Pilatus.
Pilatus is a 7000 foot mountain, which we had climbed in 1972. This time – older, wider, and less in shape – we decided to take the new and ferociously expensive aerial tramway up to the top. It’s spectacular and well worth the price though. You start out in a small, four person cable car and then transfer to a larger one halfway up that holds 25 or so people.
At the top there are several buildings, including a hotel, a restaurant, and gift shops.
The view is amazing, and the best part was the bright sunshine and cool breeze. You can see the expanse of the Alps, including the Jungfrau (13,00 feet) and the Eiger (also 13,000), two of the tallest, that lured mountain climbers each year. This day the horizon was very misty, so I am including another view.
Here’s the view on a You Tube video:
We climbed all around the top – there are passageways craved through the rock – had a drink and enjoyed the view.
We were entertained by a traditional Swiss horn blower, quite a treat, and the jackdaws that flew over the various areas where people were eating. The smallest member of the crow family, they are cavity nesters, so the top of the mountain is a natural habitat. They are a protected species and are quite bold. One landed on a tray a waiter had left momentarily and made away with a whole piece of toast. They are also quite tame, and you aren’t supposed to feed them, but when they trailed us on a path to the far side of the summit, I gave in. They’ll eat right out of your hand, but their beaks are pretty sharp.
On the back side of the mountain was the trail we had followed up to the summit. It is a good deal more difficult than the gentle switchback one on the other side.
We started our ascent at the bottom part of the white, squiggly trail, in a meadow where we had wine, bread and cheese for lunch. Then, slightly inebriated, we decided to climb. We met a Swiss couple on the way up, we said we could climb with them. They were first cousins to mountain goats, so we were glad when they left the trail to visit a chapel (not in the picture.)
You can just see the trail in the middle of this picture, above the tree line. From there we climbed up a wall of scree before finding a passageway in the mountain that led us to the other side and the view of the Alps. Since you can’t see the Alps from this back side, when we emerged at the summit, the view took our breaths away.
The Esel and Oberhaupt are two peaks which can be easily reached from the top of Pilatus by climbing some steep stairs. We climbed to the top of Esel – the peak in trhe back of the opening view in the You Tube video, so we have now ascended two of the Alps!
There’s another way down the mountain, on a cogwheel railway, which has been making the run to the top for years. This is how we got down in 1972, on the last car of the day.