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The Gelmerbahn

Posted: Friday, November 02, 2012
The Gelmerbahn
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  • The Gelmerbahn
  • The Gelmerbahn
  • The Gelmerbahn
  • The Gelmerbahn
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High in the Alpine Mountains of Bern, Switzerland, nestled amidst the natural wonders of the Grimselwelt, awaits the Gelmerbahn, a funicular railway that doubles as nature's most extreme roller coaster. With a gradient of 106%, the Gelmerbahn's single, open car will tote a handful of passengers up to the magnificent panoramas and hikes around Lake Gelmer (6,000+ feet above sea level), and then plummet them back down the 3,375-foot drop to the base station of Handegg.

The Gelmerbahn railway was installed in 1926 to aid the construction of the Gelmer dam, but it wasn't until 2001 that it opened to the public--or at least those members of the public with the nerve and the stomach to test out its heart-stoppingly steep thrill ride. Once at the top of the mountain, outdoor enthusiasts can bask in the beauty of the surrounding Lake Gelmer--which, along with nearby Grimselsee, is actually a manmade hydroelectric reservoir--or continue the adventure with some challenging treks through the rocky terrain. At the railway's base station, tourists can walk across the Handeck Swing Bridge, which rocks 230 feet above the Handeck Gorge, and returns a fantastic view of the Handeck waterfall.

Weather permitting, the Gelmerbahn is open from June through October, and costs around $30 per adult round-trip ticket. For those wary of a 106% vertical line of travel, the Grimselwelt mountain pass has plenty of less severely angled transportation options in the form of trains and aerial cable cars as well.

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