I’m excited, feeling like a big kid as I eat a hearty ‘James Bond’ breakfast in the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant atop the Schilthorn Mountain, 2970 metres in the clouds. As I look out, the mighty Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains revolve into view and I’m completely unsurprised that this stunning location was selected for cinematic history.
I’ve just learned in the Bond Museum below that the revolving restaurant was part-funded and construction completed specifically for the film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Now I’m eating in the exact spot George Lazenby flirted with one of the many femme fatales that were based here in Blofeld’s mountain top lair… I’ve eaten a little too much to pull off the same charm, but I could definitely use a well shaken dry martini right now, as in a few minutes I’ll be flying downhill, following the route of the famous Inferno!
The feeling of adventure didn’t start here however, it started with stepping off the plane at Geneva which was then followed by 2 trains, a cable car and a cog railway. I watched the twinkling night-time lights on the valley floor steadily get smaller and smaller before finally reaching Murren on its 1650-metre-high mountain shelf. It’s a manageable mission and makes for an exciting change to the usual resort transfer.
Murren village is stunning, car-free and full of idyllic resort charm caught in a time capsule overlooking the neighbouring villages of Wengen and Grindelwald. I’m staying in the Hotel Bellevue which has super-friendly owners and a wonderful restaurant. It’s 3 Star but if it had a pool it would easily be 4+, the rooms are spotless, spacious and nicely styled.
The village also has a nice range of alternative winter activities including swimming, climbing, ice skating, curling, sledging, snowshoeing and winter hiking. On top of this, there is also the newly installed ‘Thrill Walk’ at the Birg mid-station which is a very high and slightly daunting cliff-face walkway.
Having finished breakfast, absorbed the incredible view and got in ‘the zone’ I’m now ready for the epic Schilthorn Inferno route. The official race has been and gone for 2017 but having heard all about the 1,800 crazy competitors that throw themselves down the 15km course, I have to see what it’s like!
The top 100 metres of the course is the steepest and my goodness, it’s steep! It also gets very tight as the piste turns slightly to the left and in the shadow of a cliff face it’s easy to miss a few bumps and dips as the gradient levels out. This is tricky on my own, let alone surrounded by thousands of other racers! After this the course is a mix of reds, blues, some uphill bits and shallow tree runs that take you down to Lauterbrunnen – a total descent of 2,000 metres! A competent skier can complete the course in around 45 minutes …the world record holder did it in 13 minutes!
The Inferno is a huge tourist attraction for Murren, attracting thousands of competitors and spectators from all over the world to the week-long festivities. Spectating should definitely be on any keen skiers bucket-list, but to really enjoy the resort I would recommend extending your stay into the week following, when the crowds disperse and you can get stuck into the fantastic skiing available. In fact, I was shocked to find myself the only person on the piste, mid-week in February! It’s wonderfully quiet outside of the peak tourist dates, perfect for learners and families and only gets slightly busier at weekends when the local school children hit the slopes.
Murren is a brilliant resort with lots of fantastic skiing (especially when connecting with Wengen and Grindelwald). It’s got epic events and a real sense of adventure thanks to the journey up to the resort, the James Bond connection and the clear view of the frightening North Face of the Eiger – even Bond would be blown-away!
Summer is also fantastic with hoards of climbers, hikers and bikers hitting the region.
The transfer journey may be slightly more challenging with small kids in tow and the resort gets quite swollen at peak times, but this is a unique destination with a serious heritage in ski and film, and guarantees to entertain the biggest of kids – it’s definitely worth a visit!
January 20th 2018 welcomes the 75th anniversary of the epic Inferno Race (although it was actually first initiated 90 years ago but had breaks for World Wars etc). For more info head to inferno-muerren.ch
For more info on Murren and to book your next holiday visit mymuerren.ch