Time to explore Switzerland! We packed our clothes and ice climbing gear and headed east to see more family and find some ice.
We drove 3 hours east to visit family in Sargans. Stéphane’s cousin, Erwin, owns a farm and makes amazing cheese and meats. Every spring, he takes the cows up to the high meadows of the Alps. While the cows are up there grazing on yummy Alpine grass, their milk and cheese can be sold as “Alpine Cheese” / “Alpine Milk”, etc. It is amazingly rich and flavorful.
View from the farm. I am now forever and completely spoiled by the proximity to the mountains that most of the Swiss enjoy.
The cows are brought down from the Alps in the fall and spend winter in barns. The cows here are all pregnant. They each have their own little stall area and lots of clean, fresh hay to eat. Erwin takes them out to a nearby pasture for sunshine and to stretch their legs. Happy cows!
The cows’ tails are tied to a piece of rope so that when they are lying down, their tail does not slip through the openins in the grate (where the poo/pee goes).
Each cow has a little plaque above her stall with her name and other pertinent information (I forgot to ask but I’m guessing due date, etc.).
This is Denise. She is one of the really big, gray cows with horns. The other cows are all smaller and brown. Erwin is going to phase these gray types of cows out because the brown cows produce more milk for the amount of food they ingest. You can’t tell from the picture but Denise is absolutely enormous.
Each cow has tags on their ears showing to which farm they belong.
This is Stéphane’s cousin, Ivo. Ivo is a professional paraglider. Guess what we got to do with Ivo?
Sara Hefti December 14, 2015 · This was my first time paragliding. For the start, you run as fast as you can down a pretty steep hill, and then, before you know it, you are in the air.
View down the valley from above.
If you are in Switzerland and want to experience this, call Ivo! chickenwings.ch
The family came to see me off!
DANKE Ivo! Thank you for the special and memorable experience.
After the farm, we headed into town for a visit with Stéphane’s Aunt Frieda and cousins Sybille and Carmen and their families. A fun evening of great food and catching up. Danke Frieda!!!!
Our next goal for the trip is to find some ice to climb. After driving up to a high alpine valley into a little village…
We rented two beds in a 6-bed room and got lucky – we were the only ones – yeah!
Our little hotel at night – look at the stars!
Check out the mountains and stars – we took a walk and saw four shooting stars in less then 20 minutes.
Breakfast consisted of: various cheeses, meats, bread, yogurt, cereals. A pot of boiling water and these ingenious little metal cages which hold your egg in the pot while it boils. You can then choose a 4 / 6 / 8 minute timer, depending on how soft you like your egg. Swiss Precision.
At each table, a weather report for the day.
En route to the ice.
We climbed the route to the right, just the first pitch.
View down the valley – our little hotel is somewhere down there.
Phew! Made it!
It’s been quite a while since we last climbed ice. We are happy with our one pitch and figuring out our gear and setups, etc.
A great first day getting back into the swing of things on ice. Hopefully we’ll find some more tomorrow – heading to Andermatt in the morning!
A cheerful pop of color in the mountains – the village children painted this lovely scene on a water reservoir – note Les Cloches – the cow bells!
We spent two nights over in eastern Switzerland in the state (canton) of Graubünden, one of the German-speaking states. Graubünden’s flag is on the right. As you can see, their special animal is the bouquetin (alpine ibex, like we saw on our hike last week, left).
The bouquetin is everywhere! On local beer cans / wine bottles, street art, and license plates and car stickers. The people of Graubünden proudly fly their state flag.
As charming as the canton of Graubünden is, we were ready to get to the canton of Uri to search out more ice near the mountain town of Andermatt. After driving several hours on windy, narrow mountain roads, we were only 9 miles from Andermatt! Only one mountain pass left to go!
Except that mountain pass, it was closed for the winter. Only 9 miles to go and we had to turn around. To drive to Andermatt from where we were, we would have had to backtrack 3.5 more hours. So…charming little hotel, time out, and plan the next move.
Dinner. Cervola (my new favorite thing – it’s a Swiss sausage). Motta is an Italian sweet bread. And I discovered a NEW (to me) type of Haribo – Orangina!
We discovered that we could put the car on the train and take the train the remaining 9 miles over the mountain pass to Andermatt. Voila!
Car safely parked on the platform.
Here we go!
Nine miles of massive, snowy Alps.
A little chapel along the way.
Snowy mountain village.
The cars parked on platforms, pulled behind the train. Genious!
Thanks to the car-hauling train, we reach Andermatt and the canton of Uri – their flag is a bull. And now, instead of bouquetins, we see bull imagery everywhere.