Tuesday, June 09, 2015

On Top Of Pilatus

While I was on a business trip to Switzerland a couple weeks ago, we went on a team building offsite trip.
Our destination was exploring the mountain called Pilatus.  It promised some unique transportation, and some amazing views of the Swiss Alps.

Based on the description alone, it was the exact Swiss experience I wanted to have.  The views alone should be outstanding.

The summit of Pilatus is about 2KM above sea level (6800ft or so).  To get there one must take a funicular.

(A what?)

A funicular is a cog railway, designed to go up very steep inclines.  In the case of Pilatus, the incline is the steepest railway in the world, a 48% gradient at the steepest point, and 35% gradient average.  The funicular takes a 4.8KM route up the mountain to the peak and takes about 20 minutes.

While we waited for the funicular, we caught some views of the beautiful Lake Lucerne.
When the time came to head up, we all piled into the train and started checking out the views.  We quickly travelled above the snow line.
When we got to the top, we were treated to some stunning views:
Amazing, right?

 Turns out we arrived in the middle of an ice fog.  The views were less than stellar, but the fact I went from 70F to -20F in about 20 minutes was rather cool.

We headed into the hotel at the top of the summit and had lunch in the restaurant.  I had a hot chocolate. Swiss chocolate is awesome - swiss hot chocolate is *amazing*, so I had two more.

When we were finished, the view was a little improved, but not drastically.
The cool thing about the ice fog was the rather cool looking frost that built up on the rocks.  The combination of cold, humidity, and the wind makes for some stunning and unique looking ice formations.
Walking thru a walkway thru a tunnel reminded me of playing a 3D first-person shooting game. (Return to Castle Wolfenstein, if you must know)
Some more shots of the ice formations.
And some more...
One last view.  They are interesting, are they not?
After this we took a series of gondolas down the mountain. I didn't get the stunning mountain vistas I was hoping for, but I did get an amazing winter experience (which warms my frosty Canadian heart), and I got to ride the steepest cog railway... (queue Jeremy Clarkson)... in the world.

So worth it.

Afterwards some of us stuck around to explore the picturesque town of Lucerne before heading back to Zurich. Stay tuned for that story, coming up in a future post.