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Stories from Gletsch

The dairy

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- Story 3

It is likely that the first people to regularly spend the summer up here on Gletsch were alpine people who climbed up here from the valley with their cattle. The milk could not be brought down to the valley every day, so they made cheese. It also saved the pastures in the valley, which could be mowed in summer. The hay could be used to feed the animals throughout the winter.

The fact that the first hotelier himself started out as a dairyman is one story. But the Seiler family not only bought the land for the hotel, but also all the alpine meadows around it, including the entire glacier. Every summer, the alp supplied the hotel with fresh milk, cream and butter and then also cheese. Anyone who has ever enjoyed these products fresh from the alp knows that they are of a special quality that is second to none in terms of taste!



There is little written record of alpine life in Switzerland in earlier centuries. But one thing is still true today: the idea of spending the summer here with the animals may be romantic to look at. But it is hard work to milk the animals twice a day, make cheese every day and then look after it until the fall. As late as the 19th century, Swiss cheese was still in demand as long-lasting provisions for ships and was transported to the port of Genoa, for example.


Today, it is rather difficult to find people willing to take on this tough and somewhat lonely job. The alp belongs to the canton, which leases it to the current dairymaid and her sons, who have been making cheese here for 30 years.



In addition to the cheese, alpine farming has another positive side effect: the meadows are regularly cleared of large stones and shrubs. Otherwise the area would be much more inhospitable to look at in summer.

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