The journey over the Grimsel Pass and to the Furka Pass heights begins at the Zurich-Kloten airport. From the airport its takes you first a brief distance along Motorway 52 in the direction of Zurich/Bern until the A1 motorway junction, then onto the A1, in the direction of Bern-Basel. It continues on the A1 motorway until the Limmattal junction (after the Gubris tunnel). Then along the A 4 via Urdorf, Birmensdorf, Affoltern, to Rotkreuz and from there in the direction of Schwyz-Gotthard until the Küssnacht exit near Rigi.
After the motorway exit, the next stage of the journey is along cantonal Road 2, towards Lucerne, directly to the “Verkehrshaus” (Swiss Transport Museum), where the press conference will take place, and where lunch will be served afterwards.
After a brief tour of the Swiss Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus) the journey towards Grimsel Pass continues, first along Route 2, then the A2, the A8 and Route 4, for a visit to the power plant and the crystal cleft. After around 60 kiloetres you will reach KWO, the Oberhasli AG power plant.
From here we are taken into the galleries in buses, to visit the power plant and the crystal crevice.
The last stage of today’s journey leads us via the Grimsel road, Route 6, to the “Grimsel Hospiz” hotel, which we reach after a further 8 kilometres.
The tour continues, taking us to the heights of the Furka pass. After around 21 kilometres on Routes 6 and 19, we reach the Rhône glacier.
After visiting the Rhône glacier and lunch in Belvedere Hotel in Gletsch, the 150-km return journey begins, taking us via the A2 and A4 motorways back to the Zürich-Kloten airport.
Swiss Museum of Transport – Verkehrshaus der Schweiz:
The Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne was inaugurated on July 1st 1959 and consists of a museum, a cinema, a planetarium, the Hans Erni Museum and a Conference Centre, where the press conferences will be held. With an exhibition surface of around 20,000 square metres and over 3000 exhibits on display, it is the most-visited museum in Switzerland. Switzerland’s aviation history began 100 years ago. The Swiss Museum of Transport is celebrating this centenary with a special exhibition.
The museum features exhibits from rail and road travel as well as navigation, flying and space travel. Apart from this the Swiss arena, a Media Factory and a multi-functional Free-air theatre can be visited.
A real highlight of the Rail transport sector is the Gotthard tunnel show. The service railway takes you to the construction site to experience the hazardous daily routine as the tunnel was being built in 1875.
The exhibition also includes a scale model of the Gotthard tunnel north ramp, the last large Swiss steam locomotive and the first goods train locomotive powerful enough to tackle the steep mountain stretches.
The Road transport hall is a real eye-catcher with its façade covered in 344 road signs. On an exhibition surface of 2000 square metres there is a viewing warehouse and an interactive automobile theatre where visitors can vote to have an exhibit explained. In addition there are themed areas on road traffic safety and commercial vehicles.
The exhibits in the Navigation sector range from a dug-out canoe – i.e. made from a single tree trunk – dated at c. 1553 B.C., to a lifeboat of the “MS Carona” and the first and largest submarine ever built for tourism.
In the Aviation and space travel hall over 30 historic aeroplanes and other aircraft as well as more than 300 original objects, scale models, dioramas and simulators are on show.
Visitors can also admire the Swissarena, a walk-on aerial photograph of Switzerland at a scale of 1:20,000 in the Museum of Transport.
Worlds of communication can be explored in the so-called Media Factory. Here the visitor will find among other things a broadcast control room, a blue box and a radio studio.
The museum’s Arena includes a Traffic garden, a road construction arena, a cycle park and a bus simulator.
Apart from the museum itself, the Verkehrshaus also invites visitors to travel to the stars in the Planetarium. Up to 230 visitors at a time can watch dome-filling moving pictures on the planetarium’s 580 m2 projection area.
The Hans Erni Museum is home to 300 works of the Swiss artist Hans Erni, dedicated to examine ecological, technical and cultural topics.
The Conference Center, where the press conference will be held, is on the 2nd floor of the Transport Museum: it offers a view of the museum premises, city and lake against the backdrop of the Alps.
The Grimsel Pass already in Roman and Early Germanic times an important trade route, connects the Berner Oberland to the north with Wallis to the south. The pass itself reaches a height of 2165 metres above sea level, it is open from June to October. The pass road has a length of 33 kilometres.
Already in 1397 this trade route was secured. However, for its upkeep toll was required in Guttannen and Hospiz (the Grimsel Hospiz hotel of today). With the inauguration of the Gotthard railway in 1885 transport with pack animals over the Grimsel Pass was discontinued, to be replaced by tourism. The Grimsel road, the pass road to Gletsch, was built from 1891 to 1895. It crosses Grimsel Lake at its narrowest point. From around 1900 it became a popular tourist attraction.
Power Plant and Crystal Crevice:
The Oberhasli AG (KWO) Power Plant was founded on June 20, 1925. The Handeck 1 power station was built between 1925 and 1932, by 1954 the addition of the reservoir power stations had followed, while between the years 1952 and 1968 running-water power stations were added. Between 1964 and 1968 the Innertkirchen power station was added. From 1970 to 1982 the consolidation of KWO took place, reflected in the construction of the Handeck 3 power station and the Grimsel 2 pumping plant and reservoir. In late 1999 the Oberhasli AG Power Plant presented its investment programme “KWO plus”, which envisaged the integral upgrading of the power stations. In March 2007 the building application for the enlargement of Grimsel Lake was approved by the canton of Berne.
In the Crystal crevice, Quartz crystals that have grown over the last 16 million years can be admired.
Grimsel Hospiz hotel:
The Hospice, originally a Mediaeval endowment, was first mentioned in documents in 1142 as a place of lodging and shelter. In 1547 the first large-scale rebuilding of the hostelry was undertaken. In 1799 after the turmoils of war, the inn was more or less completely rebuilt. In 1838, 16 years after the house had been enlarged, it was buried by an avalanche. In 1852 the leaseholder set fire to the house out of fear his lease contract might not be extended. The inn was rebuilt a year later and remained standing until 1902, year in which it was transferred to private hands. Seven years later it was bought by the Bernischer Kraftwerke company and submerged under water when the dam was built in 1928.
In 1932 the Grimsel inn re-opened in a new building, as the first hotel in Europe to boast electric heating. This year the hotel opens its door again after undergoing a renovation which lasted a year and a half.
The Gelmer railway was built in 1926 and started operating that same year. With a maximum gradient of 106%, it is the steepest cable railway in Europe. The valley station, in Handeck, lies at an altitude of 1400 metres above sea level, while the mountain station, at Gelmersee, is at an altitude of 1850 metres.
The Furka pass connects Andermatt in the canton of Uri with Gletsch in the canton of Wallis, as well as connecting the valleys of Goms and Urseren. With a height of 2431 metres, a gradient of 11% and a length of 31 kilometres, it was the longest drivable Swiss pass road until the turn of the century. It has been trafficable since 1867 as part of the well-known Three passes tour over the Furka, Grimsel and Susten passes.
The Rhône glacier is around 10 kilometres long: it is a valley glacier at the source of the Rhône, covering an area of around 16 square kilometres and reaching a total length of 9.1km. The glacier tongue is at an altitude of 2250 metres, where the Rhône has its source. The Rhône glacier has been studied since 1874: this has been favoured by its position on an important route across the Alps. Its front has been observed to retreat continuously since 1857.
Belvedere Hotel and Ice grotto at the Furka Pass:
The Belvedere Hotel, located around three kilometres before the Furka Pass heights, offers a view of the Rhone glacier on the Wallis side. Starting from the hotel, it is possible to visit the ice grotto of the Rhone glacier as well as the glacier tongue which is accessible thanks to a footpath. The ice grotto, which has been hacked out of the ice every year since 1870, affords a glimpse into the interior world of the glacier. It lies at an altitude of 2300 metres and has a length of approximately 100 metres. The temperature of the ice is around 0ºC but depending on the number of visitors can rise to 5ºC. The age of the ice is around 200 to 300 years.