Towering rock faces carved by the glacier line both sides of the road, with waterfalls cascading thunderously into the depths between them. They are in stark contrast with the beautiful meadows and forests that adorn the valley floor. Nature seems particularly impressive in the Haslital valley in the Jungfrau region with a power all its own. The winding road leads up to the Grimsel Pass. It is a popular summer destination for visitors who want to explore the beauty of the Alps on two or four wheels.
A special highlight awaits just before you reach the top of the pass. Built in 1932, the Historic Alpine Hotel Grimsel Hospiz sits majestically on a rocky outcrop. Surrounded by Lake Grimsel, it appears as if it is standing on an island. Right next to are is the impressive retaining wall of the Spitallamm and the fascinating mountain construction site for the replacement dam, dominating the landscape. If you only stop here to snap a photo, you’ll miss out on a little world of its own. The Grimsel region.
Luzius Gartmann is one of the guides who introduce this world to visitors. He has been a visitor guide for over 10 years and accompanies groups, school classes and even individuals through the Oberhasli power plants.
The “Grimsel Underground” tour is particularly popular. It takes you through a labyrinth of tunnels that forms part of the power plant under Lake Grimsel and to other natural treasures that would otherwise remain hidden from view. At the start of the tour, visitors ride the Hospiz cable car over the construction site of the growing Spitallamm and down into the subterranean world. Slowly the huge gate opens, affording entry to the Grimsel 1 power station in a few minutes’ walk. A bus takes us further into the narrow, almost two-kilometre-long tunnel. The route runs directly under Lake Grimsel. Realising that there are almost 100 million cubic metres of water above you is quite an uncanny feeling. This mass of water drives the turbines in the Grimsel 2 pumped storage power plant, achieving peak performance. Renewable energy is generated for around one million people here.
The large, brightly coloured hall of the power plant is an eye-catcher in itself and is reminiscent of an spy film from the seventies. Luzius vividly explains to visitors how electricity is produced. There is not shortage of fun either. Luzius has a great sense of humour and is a charismatic guide. It quickly becomes clear that this is someone who is passionate about his profession.
Another highlight of the tour is the Gerstenegg crystal cavern.
This was discovered during blasting in 1974 and came under state protection shortly afterwards. That is why it is so well preserved, the largest of its kind in the world. “People come either for the power stations or the crystal cavern,” Luzius explains. “They end up being impressed by both.” He is proven right. The crystals glitter from every part of the cavern, which is around 14 metres deep. They are further proof of the valuable treasures that nature can create under pressure.
“There is has something archaic about it, and I love the nature here”, says Luzius. Eight works railways are also open to visitors of the Grimsel region. It’s also a wonderful starting point for some gorgeous hikes. From the Historic Alpine Hotel Grimsel Hospiz, the Sidelhorn railway and the Oberaar cable car will whisk you to the hiking paradise in just a few minutes. For example, they allow a circular hike over the ridge of the Sidelhorn. If you’re not put off by the 3.5-hour hike, you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of the Bernese High Alps and the Goms. From here, the ice masses of the Oberaar and Unteraar glaciers also reveal themselves in all their glory. The descent leads past idyllic Lake Trübten and opens up views of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Historic Alpine Hotel Grimsel Hospiz stands amidst a barren rocky landscape and above a turquoise-blue reservoir. This is where modernity and the past meet. After complete renovation, the former miners’ dormitory has become an extremely tasteful 4-star hotel for connoisseurs and nature lovers. The 28 rooms are tastefully furnished in the style of the 1930s. Sustainability and regionality are writ large here. This is also reflected in the high-quality, authentic cuisine by chef Alexander von Bergen.
Between 2019 and 2025, Kraftwerke Oberhasli AG is replacing the existing dam with a new one. The old wall is in need of repair, but it will be retained and flooded at a later point. This will ensure that the water from Lake Grimsel can be harnessed for electricity production without restriction in the long term. On the occasion of the renovation of the dam, the Grimsel region offers the “Construction site tour of the Spitallamm”.