Eiger means ‘ogre’ and it’s easy to see where the name came from. The rock rises 1,800 metres from the valley and is so high that it creates its own mini-climate, conjuring storms on even the most placid days. It’s one of the reasons why it’s such a brute to climb and why you’re far better off sitting in a campsite, watching others take the strain. And this is just the place for it. Camping Eigernordwand is at the foot of the Eiger. The site’s run by a charming old gent, Rudi, who’s been here since canvas bags and cable-knit woollies were all the climbing rage. He comes round every evening to say hello, but finds all chairs turned towards the Nordwand as campers search out tiny specks of human dust trying to clamber up the rock. Of course, there’s more to Grindelwald than a huge slab of rock and the views from the site are just as inspiring if you turn your camp chair around and look down the valley. It’s just that now everyone’s looking at you.
FacilitiesHoused in a Swiss-chalet building, there are über-powerful hot showers and everything else you need after a hard day in the lounger watching the climbers.
NearbyTry the cable car that runs from Grindelwald up to Männlichen (00 41 33 854 80 80). It’s supposedly the longest one in the world and starts a 10-minute walk from the campsite. Take the 35-minute ride on the cog train up through the Eiger to Kleine Scheidegg. It’s the best place for views of the face, but it’s not cheap at CHF83 return per person.
Food & DrinkThere’s a small hotel next to the site with a terraced bar looking up to the Eiger. Up in the village, Hotel Grand Regina has a posher wood-panelled bar and terrace for evening drinks, while across the road by the railway station Hotel Kreuz und Post serves generous, good-value meals.
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