Church bells were used for many things in the past - to announce the time, call people to action, etc. I loved hearing the church bells in Lauterbrunnen but one day when we were there they played for about 20 minutes instead of the normal short time - I loved it but my friend had more sensitive hearing than I and she was covering her ears. I was so glad that I got to experience this.
One of the most wonderful Swiss mountain traditions is moving the cows from winter barn shelters to high mountain summer pastures. The cows are paraded down the main street of the village and the sound of their bells is wonderful. The bells have different sounds so that the herders can tell them apart. I call it the "Cow Symphony". If you hear a distant jingling of bells, grab your camera and head outside. My friend thought I was crazy when I yelled "cows" at breakfast, jumped up, grabbed my camera, threw on a coat and went running outside in my jammies. She fell in love with the cows a minute later and she was the one who screamed "cows" the next morning.
You'll occasionally see helicopters flying around the valley. They do this to practice for rescues. If you just won the Lotto, you can probably ride along on a sightseeing tour.
If they ever have to come to rescue you, you will be both grateful and broke. You will be charged for the rescue.
Along the road between Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg you will see several such shelter-huts, where you may run to, in case of an avalanche approaching. Mostly these huts are next to the bus-stations and of course they are ment for wintertime, BUT may also be a good place to stay in case of a short heavy rain, while you are hiking or cycling and are looking for a dry place to take a rest.
Be carefull when driving and be prepared that you have to share the roads with the cows and other animals. The road was blocked for 15 minutes, when one of the local farmers led the cows to another pasture. It was funny to watch this spectacle and one of the cows even tried to inspect my car, as you may see on one of my pictures.
Of course I could have tried to slowly drive my car through the herd, BUT I always enjoy such a kind of trafic-jam, and the busdriver behind of me did as well...
If you are an American skiing in Europe the one thing you will not see in the Alpine backcountry, or off-piste as we call it, are signs warning you not to enter an area due to potential avalanche dangers. The majority of the ski hills, the on-piste areas are clearly marked and roped-in. You will often see signs adjacent to the marked piste indicating steep cliffs and/or crevaces nearby. However, if you choose to ignore the warnings you do so at your own risk. No one will stop you, but if you are injured you will have no legal recourse. In other words, you cannot sue someone for your own stupidity or bad luck, and that is just the way if should be.
You are advised to ski in pairs. To carry avalanche transceivers, shovels and probe poles. If you are ski touring or snowboarding where there is a danger of cravaces, you should also have an extraction rope and prusic ropes, and know how to use them. A knowledge of z-pulleys is also advisable. Self-help is best. Rescuers may be a long time in arriving.
If you trigger an avalanche and kill yourself, that is a risk you accept, if you ski off-piste. If you trigger an avalanche and kill someone else, you may be charged with criminal negligence. You put the lives of trained rescuers at risk when they have to launch a search & rescue mission to locate and extract you. If you are rescued, you may be charged in cash or credit card for the extraction, so it is advisable to also carry extra insurance.
So, think about it before you duck the rope and head out off-piste.
Chosing the right mountain guide is very important for several reasons. One you trust him with your life if anything goes wrong. He has to know what he is doing. He has to have a good sense of humor. He has to be able to manage group dynamics. If you have weak members in your group, he will be expected to pick up the slack, and shoulder the extra burden. He has to know when enough is enough. He is ultimately responsible for making sure you get off the mountain safely, but he also wants to make sure you enjoy yourself. It is not an easy job. Many people show up ill-equipped and unprepared. They may not have the physical stamina or the mountaineering skills necessary for what the group wants to attempt. Therefore, the guide is an essential member of the team. I have been on two trips with Daniel and I know that he excells on all fronts, and is a good friend.
I will pass along contact details when I have them. Business cards are easy to collect, harder to keep track of.
We saw this dog walking around Jungfrau. For a moment I thought it was cute! Then as I started to feel cold I thought of his paws, they must be frozen.
Not a nice feeling!
Obviously when you go to a region know for cheese then you will see many bovine grazing in fields, pastures and as this group of pictures show in the backyard of a nice looking home.