o Sally ostensibly stayed to provide companionship to Russell, but in truth only because she wanted to spend another morning in the wellness center (both Sally and Russell later hiked up the shorter direct route to the pass, thereby maintaining their 100% by foot H2H record).
o Lidia and Ioana and Beatrice took a train up to the mid-way point, in order to (very sensibly) conserve energy for the days ahead. The hike as planned involved 1790m of ascent over some 8 hours, which would probably have left some or all of them unable to hike the following day.
Thus was I left at the mercy of Arnulf, who, duly energized by competitive testosterone flows, charged up the side of the Eiger at a blistering pace. For safety reasons -- because no-one should hike alone on the Eiger -- I was of course forced to follow closely ;-). Thus we completed what should have been five hours of hiking in around 2.75h (pant, pant, pant).
Despite the ridiculous speed, I still looked around as much as I could, and the views were breathtaking, with the Eiger towering above and the vast valley of Grindelwald spread out below. We saw hardly a soul until we got to the point at which we had agreed to meet the three train-takers, at the beginning of the Eiger trail proper. Thereafter the views remained beautiful but the solitude was over: we must have encountered well over a hundred people over the next 2.5 hours as we hiked up to the Eiger Gletscher Station.
And the Kleine Scheidegg pass is no better, with its multiplicity of hotels, restaurants, tourist boutiques, train station, and even a teepee or two. Ioana was quite saddened by the rampant commercialism, but I pointed out that it was probably better that it all be in one place rather than spread throughout Switzerland, and anyway, the Jungfrau railway (which is what most of the tourists comes there to see) was finished in 1912 (started 1895), so it isn't as if this is anything new.
We stayed at the appropriately named Hotel Bahnhof, squeezed in between the train lines coming up from Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, and going up to the Jungfrau Joch (at over 3400m the highest station in Europe, as their advertizing never tires of repeating). I've actually never been up it, unlike (it seems) the majority of Japanese, of whom a staggering number pack the trains that leave every 15 minutes or so. I can't really see the attraction, I must say, but I suppose I'm never going to be a typical participant in mass tourism.
What Hotel Bahnhof lacked in style and elegance, it made up for with clean rooms and facilities and plentiful tasty food. I assured Ioana that tomorrow's hike would be different and as usual we went to bed early: asleep by 10, I think.