Switzerland’s Interlaken region looks straight out of an airbrushed postcard: Beneath the monstrous Bernese Alps lies a bucolic tableau of gabled villages and wildflower meadows favored by sheep and hikers. But Ueli Steck insists that his home is paradise for a different reason: he can ride his bike to the base of a climb and take off on a 6,000-vertical-foot training run right out of his front door. “I really like the area I live in Interlaken,” says Steck, who grew up about an hour away. “You have the Jungfrau, the Mönch, and the Eiger. These are really, really good mountains. There is easy access and you have different kinds of routes.”
Most visitors take the lifts and hike some of the 100-plus miles of footpaths that wind below the peaks. But ambitious climbers aim higher. The Eiger is perhaps the most storied of the trio of peaks, and though the Mittellegi Ridge is one of the easiest routes, it still requires glacier travel, 5.6 rock climbing, and exposed ridge traverses. Still, it’s not without its comforts. The precariously perched Mittellegi Hut, within striking distance of the summit, welcomes climbers with warmth, food, good conversation, and views of Grindelwald far below.
Mountain Madness offers guided five-day trips up the Eiger’s Mittellegi Ridge for $3,850.
Next: See Ueli Steck's Dream Trip: Climb 8,000-Meter Peaks in the Himalaya
Ueli Steck, also known as the Swiss Machine, has scaled rock walls from El Capitan to 8,000-meter peaks in the Himalaya. He is best known for his audacious free-solo speed climbs up peaks in the Alps and Canadian Rockies, like the Matterhorn (1 hour, 56 minutes) and the Eiger (2 hours, 47 minutes). He’s now taking on the Himalaya.
- Nat Geo Expeditions