|Walk on the Aletsch glacier without a guide or special equipment | Medium return walk (T3) | Get up close to the mighty Mönch | Enjoy lunch at the Mönchsjochhütte or stay overnight|
You won’t find many places where you can walk on a glacier and above 3,500 m with no mountaineering experience or equipment — but the trail from Jungfraujoch to Mönchsjochhütte is one of them. Groomed each day in summer like a ski slope, the hike is free of crevasses and safe for walkers of all levels.
The scenery is literally superlative. The trail passes directly under the 4,110 m Mönch, offering close-up views of the massive glaciers clinging to its rocky sides. To the other side you can gaze down the Aletsch glacier, the largest glacier in the Alps. Turn around and you’ll see the famous Jungfrau and Eiger, both also higher than 4,000 m. You can take it all in from Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest train station and the starting point for the walk — but actually walking on the glacier makes the experience much more dramatic. Plus the destination, Mönchsjochhütte, is an amzing sight in itself, attached precariously to one side of the Mönch. At 3,650 m above sea level, it is the highest in mountain hut Switzerland with a warden and the 3rd-highest in Europe.
Four warnings for the Mönchsjochhütte hike:
- It’s not cheap to get to Jungfraujoch
- The walk is very popular in the summer so it may be hard to get a table for lunch
- You may find the walk harder than expected due to the high altitude
- Do not attempt the walk between mid-October and mid-March without the necessary equipment and experience for walking on glaciers!
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Practical info – Mönchsjochhütte Jungfraujoch
Getting there & away
The Mönchsjochhütte hike starts at Jungfraujoch, a research station and popular tourist destination at the top of the Aletsch glacier, located in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. Access to the Jungfraujoch is from the canton of Bern, while Jungfraujoch, the Mönchsjoch hut and Aletsch glacier are in Valais/Wallis.
The trip to Jungfraujoch — the “Top of Europe” — is an adventure in itself. First you need to travel to either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, two very popular tourist towns in different valleys of the Jungfrau Region. Both towns are served by public transport.
Next you need to travel to either Kleine Scheidegg, a small mountain village situated in green pastures under the Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger, or the nearby Eiger Glacier station. The options are:
- Scenic mountain train from Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg (Wengernalp Railway)
- Cable car from Grindelwald Grund to the Eiger Glacier station (Eiger Express gondola; the fastest option)
- Scenic mountain train from Lauterbrunnen to Kleine Scheidegg (also the Wengernalp Railway)
- Walking up from either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen.
The final stage of the journey is the Jungfrau Railway to Jungfraujoch, which you can take from either Kleine Scheidegg or the Eiger Glacier station (one station up the line, where the Eiger Express cable car arrives). This cog train travels right under the Mönch and Eiger, with a stop along the way to admire the “Sea of Ice” glacier via windows cut into the mountain face.
The train to Jungfraujoch is EXTREMELY popular with tourists. We advise booking seats well in advance, both up and down.
What to bring
You don’t need any special equipment in late spring, summer or early autumn when the path is groomed — though I recommend good shoes for walking on snow. Walking sticks may also be useful.
Once the tunnel exit from Jungfraujoch is closed for winter, you can only do this walk with appropriate mountaineering equipment for glaciers.
If you wish to stay overnight at the Mönchsjochhütte mountain hut then you will need an inner sleeping bag in the summer months and all sleeping gear in the winter. See “Facilities” below for information on meals.
Whatever the season, this is a high-altitude walk above 3,500 m so be prepared for sudden changes in weather. Don’t forget sun protection and good sunglasses — the snow glare is blinding on a sunny day.
You can park in Grindelwald at Grindelwald Grund train station, the Eiger Express terminal, or in the village itself. Lauterbrunnen also has public parking areas. You will need to pay wherever you park — and beware, spaces fill up early in summer.
Jungfraujoch does not offer any accommodation, but does have self-service and sit-down restaurants as well as a couple of bars and coffee/snack places. There are also a number of shops for tourists.
You can eat at the Mönchsjochhütte mountain hut between mid-March to mid-October when the warden is present. Hot meals are served from 11:00-15:00, and reservations are not possible. A snow bar outside the hut is also available, to reduce waiting during busy times. For overnight stays during this period, the hut serves dinner and breakfast as well as snacks and sandwiches. You can also sleep at the hut during winter when the warden is not present; however it will be very cold and no food is available. Whatever the time of year, you need to reserve to stay overnight. Note that the hut does not have potable tap water, showers or hot water for washing.
► Places to eat at Jungfraujoch, Eiger Glacier station & Grindelwald Terminal (English)
► Mönchsjochhütte website (German, French, some Italian, some English)
Dangers & annoyances
The Mönchsjochhütte hike on the Aletsch glacier is not dangerous in good weather, but reaching the hut may be difficult and even dangerous in case of mist, storms and strong winds.
Do not stray from the path even in good weather! Glaciers are extremely dangerous, with the risk of falling into a crevasse. Even if you see tracks where others have walked, do not go off the groomed trail unless you are with a guide or part of a group of experienced mountaineers with the correct equipment.
The entire Mönchjochhütte Jungfraujoch route is at high altitude. Jungfraujoch train station is 3,454 m above sea level, and Mönchsjochhütte is at 3,658 m above sea level. This means you may feel the effects of altitude and even suffer from altitude sickness.
Additionally be aware of:
- Heat stroke/dehydration
|History of the Mönchsjochhütte|
The Mönchsjochhütte belongs to the Mönchsjoch hut association, whose members are mostly mountain guides based in Grindelwald. The hut was built from 1978 to 1979, and then renovated and made bigger in 2003-2004.
Trail description & map: Mönchsjochhütte hike
Medium return walk
The path is well marked and very obvious in good weather. Beware of stepping off the trail in poor weather. The route is not steep, but the snow can get choppy and slippery if a lot of people are walking on it.
Note the route is only groomed during late spring, summer and early autumn. During this time it may be temporarily closed after heavy snowfall, while the path is groomed or if avalanches need to be artificially triggered. Follow the safety instructions provided at the Jungfraujoch.
Do not attempt the walk when the tunnel exit from Jungfraujoch is closed for winter unless you have mountaineering equipment and experience with glaciers.
From Jungfraujoch train station walk through the tunnels following the signs to the snow park, to doors exiting onto the snow. The route to Mönchsjochhütte continues straight ahead, on a groomed snow road marked with poles. Crevasses near the path are marked. Even if you can’t see any crevasses, or see tracks where others have walked, do not go off the path.
The route climbs gently as it traverses the base of the Mönch, along the top of the Aletsch glacier. After around 60 minutes you’ll reach the Mönchsjochhütte. Return the same way.
Nearby mountain fun
You may as well take in all Jungfraujoch has to offer while you’re here. Visit an ice cave, check out the Lindt chocolate exhibition, zoom over the snow on a zipline (tyrolienne) and ride up to the Sphinx viewing platform.
Eating & sleeping
Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen offer a number of hotels and restaurants. You can also eat and sleep at Kleine Scheidegg and the Eiger Glacier station just above, though with fewer options.
Other hiking options
Mönchsjochhütte is the most popular starting point for those wishing to climb the Mönch and Jungfrau. The Eiger can also be climbed from here, though it’s a long hike. All three — and all other expeditions venturing into the Aletsch glacier — are for experienced mountaineers only.
The Jungfrau ski region includes three ski resorts — Grindelwald-Wengen, Grindelwald-First and Mürren-Schilthorn — which together offer more than 200 km of slopes.