Tallest mountain in the Alps

February 18, 2020
While the Janssen Observatory

The Jungfrau is the westernmost and highest point of a gigantic 10 km wall dominating the valleys of Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. The wall is formed by the alignment of some of the biggest north faces in the Alps, with the Mönch (4, 107 m) and Eiger (3, 970 m) to the east of the Jungfrau, and overlooks the valleys to its north by a height of up to 3 km. The Jungfrau is approximately 6 km from the Eiger; with the summit of the Mönch between the two mountains, 3.5 km from the Jungfrau. The wall is extended to the east by the Fiescherwand and to the west by the Lauterbrunnen Wall.

The difference of altitude between the deep valley of Lauterbrunnen (800 m) and the summit is particularly visible from the area of Mürren. From the valley floor, west of the massif, the altitude gain is more than 3 km for a horizontal distance of 4 km.

The landscapes around the Jungfrau are extremely contrasted. Instead of the vertiginous precipices of the north-west, the south-east side emerges from the upper snows of the Aletsch Glacier at around 3, 500 metres. The 20 km long valley of Aletsch on the south-east is completely uninhabited and also surrounded by other similar glacier valleys. The whole area constitutes the largest glaciated area in the Alps as well as in Europe.

Climbing history[edit]

In 1811, the brothers Johann Rudolf (1768–1825) and Hieronymus Meyer, sons of Johann Rudolf Meyer (1739–1813), the head of a rich merchant family of Aarau, with several servants and a porter picked up at Guttannen, having reached the Valais by way of the Grimsel, crossed the Beich Pass, a glacier pass over the Oberaletsch Glacier, to the head of the Lötschen valley. There they added two local chamois hunters, Alois Volken and Joseph Bortis, to their party and traversed the Lötschenlücke before reaching the Aletschfirn (the west branch of the Aletsch Glacier), where they established the base camp, north of the Aletschhorn. After the Guttannen porter was sent back alone over the Lötschenlücke, the party finally reached the summit of the Jungfrau by the Rottalsattel on August 3. They then recrossed the two passes named to their point of departure in Valais, and went home again over the Grimsel.

The summit from near the Rottalsattel
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