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Guide to Interlaken, Switzerland

Wednesday 5 February, 2014

Interlaken: easy access to stunning high mountain terrain, and the world famous Eiger. No wonder the Swiss are so good! Photo: photo: Markus Zimmermann

Interlaken: easy access to stunning high mountain terrain, and the world famous Eiger. No wonder the Swiss are so good! Photo: photo: Markus Zimmermann

WHY GO?
Some of the world’s best pilots are based here – for good reason.

WHERE IS IT?

WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Interlaken is home to paragliding champions like Chrigel Maurer, Andy Aebi, Stefan Wyss, Steve Cox, and Kari Eisenhut, to name a few. Advance themselves are in Thun at the other end of the lake. In fact, Interlaken is probably the reason why the Swiss are so good!

Interlaken is in the Bernese Oberland on the northern edge of the main Alpine chain. The area is legendary in mountaineering circles, with the stunning peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau attracting pioneers of the sport long before hang gliding and paragliding were born.

Situated in the transition between the Swiss flatlands and the Alps, Interlaken offers 15 different launches for pilots of all levels. On a stable summer day you can take off in the high mountains around the Schilthorn or Grindelwald in big mountain thermals. Or for easy, light thermal conditions, launch around Interlaken from Amisbühl, the Niederhorn or take an evening flight from Schynige Platte.

A huge grassy landing field sits in the centre of Interlaken, and is reachable from all 15 takeoffs.

FLYING CONDITIONS
Everything from powerful high mountain flights to low-level soaring above the lake. Interlaken is famous for its perfect flying weather. Protected from stronger winds by high mountains all around, statistics show you can fly here on about 300 days a year! The stronger the forecast wind, the lower the take-off you’ll want to choose.

WHEN TO GO
Flyable all year, but best between March and October.

ALTITUDE
Cloudbase 1,800 – 3,500m
Launch 1,000 – 3,000m
Landing 570m

HANG GLIDER ACCESS
Yes, reach Amisbühl by car or the Niederhorn by cable car

MUST BE FLOWN
Soar in front of the legendary north wall of the Eiger, then fly down to land in the centre of Interlaken for a refreshing beer. Or Take off at Grindelwald in front of the north face of the Eiger. fly north to the Faulhorn, cross to the north of the ridge at Bira, then make a long final glide along the Brienz lake to town.

DANGERS AND ANNOYANCES
Strong winds – when there’s more than 5 HPa of pressure difference between south and north of the Alps, you should stop flying. The Föehn wind gets to Interlaken late, but it can still come all the way down to the ground.

Lake Thun is open to the northwest, so when the wind is from that direction it can blow out. Luckily northwest wind is very rare.

The rescue helicopter base REGA is at Wilderswil airfield so landing there should be avoided.

ACCOMMODATION
All levels are available. Try the Backpackers Paragliding Villa directly located at the landing field in the centre of Interlaken for friendly cost-effective accommodation.

GUIDES AND COURSES
Kari Eisenhut’s Chill Out Paragliding Centre offers you all kinds of flying support, from friendly advice for visiting pilots through to comprehensive thermal and XC courses and guided holidays. Kari also runs an Advance test centre. The paragliding shop is in the Backpackers Paragliding Villa.

EXPERT’S OPINION
“Interlaken is unique! You can fly high above glaciers or low down by the lake in just 30km. It’s spectacular!” – Kari Eisenhut

TAKE THE FAMILY
Interlaken is a great family destination with lots of outdoor sports and activities. Check www.interlaken.ch for details.

RAINY DAYS
Don’t miss the Trümmelbach waterfalls when it rains or the view from the Jungfrau Joch, which at 3,453m is the highest railway station in Europe. The train runs up through the inside of the Eiger – stop for a close look out at the notorious north face.

WEATHER INFO
www.chilloutmeteo.com has a special flying forecast twice a week for Interlaken and the surrounding area. Or www.soaringmeteo.ch for detailed charts of this area of the Alps.

GETTING THERE
Fly to Zürich or Basel (Easyjet) and get the train to Interlaken (two hours – change at Bern).

USEFUL CONTACTS
www.chilloutparagliding.com for paragliding info
www.interlakenadventures.com for info on Interlaken’s adventure sports.


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