Alden Boon

The Trümmelbach Falls in Switzerland Are a Muse

19/04/2018

I emerged from my safari tent, and before me were campervans and tents that disturbed swards of green. Yonder was the enchanting Murrenbach Falls, Switzerland’s highest waterfall with a height spanning four hundred and seventeen metres. The cascading torrent slept not, for it was summer, and its lulling whoosh thrummed throughout the blind night.

Murrenbach Falls Switzerland
Murrenbach Falls, Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland

From my camp site in Stechelberg, I ambled along meandering asphalt roads and concrete pavements, lured by the waterfall, my bulky tripod lodged between my arms. Coming to a fork in the road I saw a direction sign that read “Trümmelbach Falls”, suddenly recalling a back-burnered agenda my Hungarian friend had urged: that the falls is a must-go. It was an hour away, by foot, and the road albeit long was flat. I continued my leisure walk, lost in the tapestry of trees and dramatic cliffs, relishing the bracing summer air. Such is the superlative beauty of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. Lauterbrunnen means “many fountains”, seventy-two to be exact.

Soon I was come to the Murrenbach Falls. In five cascades the water plunged, and as I traced its fluidity I espied an iridescent arch that had formed at the base of the final drop. Petals of wildflowers were borne by the wind, like snowflakes on a wintry day. I topped up my empty bottle, as I am wont to do whenever I visit a waterfall, and thanked the Murrenbach Falls as the water evicted thirst and renewed my resolve to journey on. To the Trümmelbach Falls I went.

Trees marched on endlessly, walling off what lay beyond. What a quaint village where time seemed to come to a standstill, I thought. Just then, a solo female parachutist came into view, at first a diminutive figure that very quickly grew in size, then swooping dangerously close. With an effort she jigged the toggles and swerved, careening towards then crashing into the belt of trees, her orange parachute snagged on outstretched branches and breaking the monotony of green. Like a prey caught in a spider’s web, she could not move or wiggle her way out. The few of us, the first witnesses, stood rooted to the ground, unsure of how to help her as she was beyond reach. Soon, numerous knights came to her rescue. The tallest guy amongst us grabbed her legs and steadied her on his shoulder as she doffed her gear and extricated herself.

Believing that she was in good hands, I continued my journey. I was quite enjoying the bucolic view when a putrid smell that hanged in the air assaulted my olfactory senses. I chanced upon a couple making yoo-hoo noises, their cameras poised in mid-air and aimed at two horses that wagged their tails. Whether it was shyness or haughtiness that led the beasts to ignore the two I did not know. On the road to the Trümmelbach Falls there were also grazing cows, and bells slung around their necks chimed in tandem with their gentle movements.

Trümmelbach Falls Lauterbrunnen Switzerland
Trümmelbach Falls Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

Before long I reached the entrance of the Trümmelbach Falls, the ingress barred by a turnstile. After paying a fee, I was in. There was a queue of tourists, all wanting to board the tunnel lift. “What lazy people,” thought I. I clambered up the elliptical staircase to my right, and there I had the first glimpse of a chute, its ferocity unrelenting. Light was caught in the mist that was like a prism, reflecting, refracting and dispersing, giving us a faint arc of many colours. But the pathway came to a cul-de-sac, and I had to go back whence I came.

The road to the peak actually starts on the left, sloping gently but steadily, wreathed with tall trees. I had barely climbed fifty steps and already I was huffing and puffing. I doubled back and headed for the tunnel lift. A rush of icy-cold air pelted my face as I waited in line. The tunnel lift brought us to the sixth level, opening to a panoramic view of Lauterbrunnen Valley. I scaled a long flight of stairs marked with a label that read “Chutes Six to Ten”, and with every step the song of the Trümmelbach Falls intensified. My anticipation reached fever pitch, like that of a fan waiting just outside a concert arena while his favourite musician did a pre-show soundcheck, only allowed to eavesdrop and not be a part of the action just yet.

Trümmelbach Falls Lauterbrunnen Switzerland
Trümmelbach Falls Lauterbrunnen Switzerland
Trümmelbach Falls Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

Trümmelbach Falls are ten glacier waterfalls nestled in a mountain. They are Europe’s largest subterranean waterfalls, and their meltwater emanates from Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. For thousands of years, these torrents barrelling and forceful sculpted the very slot canyons we see today, working like artisans on marble. Up to twenty thousand litres of water flow here per second, bringing with them scree and debris.

I had come without a jacket, my sartorial choice informed by the fact that it was summer, and I dithered if I should return another day. But the desire to see the deafening cataracts emboldened me, and I inched step by step towards them. The route was well illuminated — thanks to human interference, the Trümmelbach Falls are the world’s only glacier waterfalls with underground access. The ground was very wet, so that every step of mine became a careful waddle. At every turn, visitors posed for the cameras, backdropped by the cascades, and when satisfied with their photos quickly scurried to a drier space.

The cold was biting: water mingled with wind. But soon I became impervious to it, my body from head to toe dripping wet from the spray, my mind entirely spellbound. I stood behind a railing and shut my eyes, the sound of the falls drowning out all chatter. Noisy meditation, it works. And then I came to a section where the roof of the mountain gave way to the sky. The craggy peak caught the slanting sunrays and glinted. It was breath-taking.

By now I was soaking wet, but I could not stop smiling: My heart was filled with unbridled bliss. O’, to gaze upon these soaring columns of rock, which when licked by the meltwater gleamed like silver! I came to Switzerland to find my muse, and I found it in the Trümmelbach Falls.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.

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