Our breathtaking paragliding flight off Jungfrau
In 1977, a 12-year old boy in Romania found an interesting article about the highest alpine rail in Europe, on Mount Jungfrau in Switzerland. 38 years later, the same boy (now 50) manages to paraglide off Mount Jungfrau alongside his Australian wife. We wanted to share our excitement with fellow paragliding pilots in Australia.
This amazing opportunity came about whilst on a tour through the Swiss Alps with Craig Papworth and Phil Hystek, whose knowledge and expertise was invaluable and enabled us to catch a small window of opportunity that made this exceptional flight possible.
The day started very early with a trip from our accommodation in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, 300 metres from the main landing zone. Our car was packed by 6:30am and we were on our way towards the train station for the 1.5 hours climb up the mountain.
The rail itself is an amazing piece of engineering, built in 1912. The first 45-minutes of our journey took us through a spectacular forest into the town of Wengen – a ski resort above the tree line. From that point onwards, the train enters a tunnel that is completely dug inside the rock of the mountain. With true Swiss efficiency, three stations (each with its own lookout) are set at three different levels of the climb, allowing spectacular views from enclosed lookouts over the North Face of Eiger and the Eiger Glacier. The end station at Jungfraujoch provides 360º panoramic views over the surrounding mountains.
This is the final point for most of the tourists, with their trip ending after a few steps in the snow on the terrace. We paid no attention to the ‘stop’ warning sign and, followed by a few frozen tourists, we proceeded to make our way and setup our wings on the launch area.
“Lack of oxygen and low temperatures made any activity on the launch area quite difficult. The launch has a steep incline but the strength of the wind allowed for a reverse inflation. Running on the launch was made fairly difficult by the knee-deep snow, followed by a 500 metre cliff drop. Not for the faint hearted!”
From there on, the fun started!
The clouds were coming in fast, with showers over the Interlaken area. The cloud cover and the falling rain created a super smooth zone of convergence in the middle of the valley, allowing for a 15-minute glide at 3000 metres without any loss of altitude. The high altitude and lift in the valley provided perfect conditions for flights along the whole of Lauterbrunnen Valley – and with so many interconnecting ridges Anita took a wrong turn towards Interlaken, which enabled her first ‘cross country flight’ reaching up to 22 kilometres and still arriving over the landing zone with plenty of altitude.
All pilots in our group had exceptional flights, landing with big grins and close to our accommodation.
Thank you Craig and Phil for your help and expertise. Without you, our flight would not have been possible.
- Launch altitude: 3,466 metres
- Flight time: 45-minutes
- Access: via train from Lauterbrunnen
- Cost: $45.90 per person for a one-way ticket, with the half-fare Swiss discount card
- Landing zone: Stechelberg, at the base of the Mürren gondola.
If you plan to fly multiple flights in Switzerland, we strongly recommend getting the half-fare Swiss card, as cable cars and trains can be expensive.
If you would like to see a video of our flight, press play: