Schilthorn: hiking on a James Bond film set

You are currently viewing Schilthorn: hiking on a James Bond film set
  • Post last modified:February 18, 2024
  • Post category:Bern
  • Reading time:15 mins read

With the recent release of No Time to Die we thought a post on one of the James Bond mountains in Switzerland might be fitting! Schilthorn features as Piz Gloria in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Although this peak was made famous by the James Bond franchise it still makes for a really nice hike regardless of the fanfare at the top, and you’ll get views of nearby Jungfrau in particular. The summit features a rotating restaurant and a Bond Museum, and you’ll find that even the toilets are Bond-themed 😊. That was quite entertaining!

Recommended Version – This is a regular route up Schilthorn.

Time: 3 h 30 min

Distance: ~ 6.5 km

Altitude: ~ 1100 m ↑ 50 m ↓

Our Route (Longer Version) – This is the route we followed. It’s probably only for hiking enthusiasts with Alpine hiking experience.

Time: 6 h 30 min

Distance: ~ 12.5 km

Altitude: ~ 2000 m ↑ 500 m ↓

H0064_Schilthorn_James Bond Mountain Murren
The views from the bottom are impressive in their own right.

The day started in an unremarkable fashion. We piled off the train at Reichenbach im Kandertal with a cluster of other hikers and day trippers to catch the connecting bus up to the start of our hike. From there on though, this was a truly spectacular day, starting with that bus route from Reichenbach im Kandertal to Griesalp. We’ve seen claims that this is the steepest bus route in Switzerland, and we can believe it – at one point the road reaches a gradient of 28% as it twists up through the Griesschlucht (Gries gorge). It’s well worth the trip just for the bus route!

From Griesalp, the hike started gently, winding up through forests and pastures for the first 45 minutes or so. Once this warm-up was finished, the path got more serious and quickly got steeper, heading relentlessly up through barren scree and rocks for a full thousand meters more of vertical gain up to the Sefinafurgga pass. The path up was mostly hemmed in between the mountains on either side of the valley, but the views do gradually open up, especially from Sefinafurgga pass.

Once we’d got away from the easier paths around Griesalp, the way up had been pretty quiet. However, we were greeted by a whole bunch of people once we reached the Sefinafurgga pass – not too many of them were climbing up from Griespass, it seems! The area is popular for Alpine touring though, so quite a few of them were probably doing the Via Alpina between Kandersteg and Murren, perhaps with an overnight hut stop in the Gspaltenhornhutte or the Bluemlisalphutte. 

H0064_Schilthorn_James Bond Mountain Murren

From the Sefinafurgga pass, the path unfortunately heads back down over 300 meters – not really what you want to hear when you’ve already done 1200m up! We made short work of the path down though, enjoying the views of a couple of small Alpine lakes with some of the bigger peaks behind. Before long, we’d reached the decision point near Hundshubel – should we call it a day and walk on down to Murren, or did we have enough energy for a 700m slog up to the summit of Schilthorn? 

H0064_Schilthorn_James Bond Mountain Murren
Decision point around Hundshubel. Do we continue another 700 m up or do we head down to the nearest cable car?

We decided we had enough energy left and that the conditions were good, so we went for it – and boy was it a slog! Maybe it wasn’t any steeper than the path up to Sefinafurgga pass, but it certainly felt like it at this point. As we chalked up more and more altitude, though, we were confident we would make it. The otherworldly views of the ridge landscape on the last stretch up Schilthorn from Sattel, along with panoramic views in all directions, gave us plenty of excuses to stop and catch our breath.

H0064_Schilthorn_James Bond Mountain Murren
The final ridge up to Schilthorn. Be ready to huff and puff up this last bit.

Once we’d left the main Via Alpina path to head up Schilthorn, the path had got very quiet again, but as we neared the peak of Schilthorn people started reappearing, and it was somewhat surreal to finally step onto the viewing terrace at the summit, suddenly surrounded by visitors in trainers and young children running around. The reward for getting up here is panoramic views of the whole area, including the ever-present Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. And as we discovered, the building on the summit also has a revolving restaurant and a Bond museum, of all things! They certainly play on that theme up there on the mountaintop! Even the toilets were Bond themed 🙂

…………………

Practical Information for this Hike

Our Route (longer version)Recommended Route
StartGriesalp, Kurhaus Bus StopAllmendhubel Funicular (Standseilbahn)
EndSchilthorn Cable Car StationSchilthorn Cable Car Station
Time6.5 h3.5 h
Distance~ 12.5 km6.5km
CantonBernBern
DifficultyT3 (difficult)T3 (difficult)
Altitude~ 2000m ↑ 500m ↓~ 1100m ↑ 50m ↓
Popularity3/5 – the route was quite deserted in places4/5 – popular – this is one of the main routes up
Season Summer: Jun – SeptSummer: Jun – Sept
Highest PointSchilthorn 2969mSchilthorn 2969m
Public TransportTo Griesalp: 2h 40 min from Zurich, 1 h 30 min from Bern.
From Schilthorn: 3h 30 min to Zurich, 2h 20 min to Bern, 1 h to Lauterbrunnen.
To Allmendhubel: 3h 15 min from Zurich, 2h 20 from Bern, 1 h from Lauterbrunnen.
From Schilthorn: 3h 30 min to Zurich, 2h 20 min to Bern, 1 h to Lauterbrunnen.
ParkingNot a loop hike. See notes below 
CostsPrice depends on route. See link: https://schilthorn.ch/en/Infos/Timetable__and__Tariff

Parking (regular route)

Parking in this area is simple but it’s the journey after you park that may seem a bit complicated. Here’s why!
This is a narrow valley. So cars can only go as far as Lauterbrunnen or a bit further up to Stechelberg. After that it’s all car free up to and including Mürren. Parking spots may be limited on busy days so generally this area is best frequented by public transport. 

Even once you park, getting up to the top of the Allmendhubel funicular where your hike starts requires a series of cable cars and/or trains. I know it sounds complicated but all of these connections are well timed and well signposted. It’s the only way for people to get around here so it’s really just part of the experience of travelling and hiking in this area. Also, you probably won’t even notice the time go by or find it a burden – the views around you are stunning!

If you do travel by car then here are some parking options. 

Parking Lauterbrunnen: Zuben 479, 3822 Lauterbrunnen. 
From here take the cable car to Grütschalp, train to Mürren and funicular to Allmendhubel. 

Parking Stechelberg: Stechelberg, Schilthornbahn, 3824 Lauterbrunnen
From here it’s a series of 2 cable cars to Grimmelwald, then Mürren and finally the funicular to Allmendhubel!

Here’s the route map:

Our Route Up

H0064_Schilthorn_James Bond Mountain Murren_Hiking Route Map
Start: Griesalp Kurhaus Bus Stop. End: Schilthorn Summit. Route via Sefinafurgga pass. This is the route we took up. It is steep and long and thus we recommend the route below for those of you looking for a ‘relaxed’ but still challenging hike.

Recommended Route Up

H0064_Schilthorn_James Bond Mountain Murren_Hiking Route Map
Start: Allmendhubel Funicular Station (Standseilbahn). End: Schilthorn Peak. This route takes you up the other flank of Schilthorn and is easier to access from Murren. Source: copyright swisstopo & SwitzerlandMobility.

Both Routes on One Map

H0064_Schilthorn_James Bond Mountain Murren_Hiking Route Map
For reference we’ve plotted both routes on a map. You can see ‘Our Route Up’ in red comes up the west flank of Schilthorn whereas the ‘Recommended Route Up’ in blue comes up the east. Neither are trivial walk-in-the-park kinda hikes. So make sure you’ve got enough of experience, motivation and goodies to keep you going up! Source: copyright swisstopo & SwitzerlandMobility.

Alternative Routes & More on the route we chose.

The hike we describe above was an enormous hike that we built up to with several slightly smaller practice hikes, and there aren’t too many options to change your mind part-way up if you discover that the hike is too big for you – you’ll have a long walk back down. So we recommend that you don’t try this unless you have experience with large altitude gains at high altitude in the Alps – plus the normal caveats about good weather and season. Here’s a couple of other options that you could try to get a flavor of the area without the enormous height gain. 

  • A shorter loop walk at Griesalp: More details on the bus route here, by the way.
  • Walk up Schilthorn from the east side, for example as described above as our ‘recommended’ route.
  • Griesalp-Sefinafurgga pass-Murren
  • If you’re thinking of doing the ViaAlpina stage 12 (see here) – good for you, but it wouldn’t really be a training hike for Schilthorn – it’s even bigger!