Staubbach Fall is among the most iconic sights in Switzerland. While, it’s nothing more than a standard waterfall, of which there are quite a few in Lauterbrunnen, it is the location of the Fall at the end of the main road, that passes through this picturesque mountain town, that adds a dramatic aura to its significance.
The first thing that anyone walking out of Lauterbrunnen train station witnesses is the Staubbach Fall in the distance. No matter how many pictures you’ve seen of the Fall, it’s still a fantastic sight requiring a minute or two to realise that this imposing scene is no dream but a beautiful reality.
My family and I spent three beautiful days in Lauterbrunnen. Our “room” was a cabin at Camping Jungfrau; a large camping ground with various types of abodes, situated a short walk away from Staubbach Fall.
During the three days, we got to see the Fall in different avatars. From a gentle, somewhat less impressive, trickle, on a sunny day, to a thundering and daunting waterfall, the noise of which could be heard all the way to our cabin, after half a day of rainfall. It was as if God had suddenly turned on the water tap to a maximum in an attempt to wow the visitors lucky enough to pass through the region on that given day.
At the bottom of the Fall, a little to the side is a small space for people to sit and enjoy the beauty of the waterfall. It’s close enough to be impressed by the Fall’s grandness, but far enough to only intermittently get sprayed by the mist whenever there is a change in the wind direction. For a more spectacular experience, visitors can climb up to the Fall (not to the very top). It’s a short 7 to 10-minute climb possible without much effort.
The first time we were there, my daughter and I decided to go up. My son was unfortunately in one of his moods and wouldn’t let his sister leave. As a result, I went up alone. I was to find later that my daughter got upset and ended up crying a little about missing out.
At the time, unaware of the drama that was unfolding below, I climbed to the top of the hill, went past a tunnel that cut into the mountain, and up some rickety stairs to witness glorious views of Lauterbrunnen. It was a bright sunny day with the occasional cloud covering the town in the shade now and then.
Somehow the world seemed a lot simpler from high above. Everyone down below in the valley looked insignificant, and tiny, surrounded by the almost theatrical natural beauty of the region, which we often fail to notice or appreciate from ground level.
A couple of American girls had gone up the Staubbach Fall along with me during this hike. Now, I do feel weird calling it a “hike” because it’s more of a gentle climb. The girls, though, failing to see the attractiveness of the panoramic vistas, stated their disappointment in how the Staubbach Fall didn’t live up to their expectations. Someone had told them that it was a “refreshing” experience, a chance to get wet under the water. On this day, the Staubbach Fall was to the side of the viewpoint, with only the occasional sprinkle coming our way whenever the wind picked up a little.
Happy to have been to the top, yet eager to return, I got a chance to go back again, this time with my daughter, the next day. The difference being, it had rained heavily the previous night, and the Fall was gloriously active, putting up a show, inviting visitors to observe its splendour.
Up the hill, again, and through the tunnel, again, unlike the day before, we could hardly make it past the fragile staircase without getting wet. The water was pouring in from all directions to the extent that I had to put my camera away to safeguard it.
The top area, which I must inform, is carved into the rock and not at all proper in appearance, was a lot more crowded as everyone, it seemed, wanted to enjoy the rejuvenating freshness that is often associated with waterfalls.
Now I knew what the American girls had been talking about, and I wondered if they had stuck around in Lauterbrunnen long enough to finally see the Staubbach Fall in all its glory.
As for us, we hurried down and quietly slipped back into our cabin, to dry off, while my wife and son took their afternoon nap. It wasn’t that I was afraid to wake them up. It’s just that we were soaking wet, and the last thing I wanted to hear was a lecture from my wife on how my daughter could end up falling sick because I wasn’t careful enough.
We obviously blamed the mild running nose my daughter suffered over the next few days on the change in the weather.