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people, merchandise or even furniture with his taxi or snow- tire-suited trucks. If the train didn’t travel to Mürren, people would not be able to visit the town or receive supplies and materials. Gertch and his crew of five


men run the majority of the transportation system in Mür- ren. Gertch said his day begins at 6:30 a.m. when he takes food in refrigerated containers to the hotels and grocery stores by truck. This is after the food has been brought up the cable car and transported by train. But sometimes the weather puts a halt to productivity. “Sometimes when there’s a lot of snow in one night, the


train has first to clean the railways, then maybe we have to wait two to three hours to clear the snow,” Gertch said. On snowy days, Gertch said his team attaches a snowplow to the


front of the train. T ey also have a machine that blows the snow. T ey prepare for snowy weather by putting chains on their tires. After more than a dozen carloads of food are distributed,


Gertch said his team begins to unload construction materials and petrol gas, all sent by the train. The homes and hotels in the village are heated using petrol gas, and it takes several trips in order to give everyone the gas they need. “I can load 2,000 liters, and usually hotels need 10,000 liters


for all three months, and I have to drive five times,” he said. “We have [40] small chalets up in the hill, and in the winter time, it is not possible to drive there. So in the summer time, when it is good and dry, I can drive there.” Gertch’s transportation services in Mürren would not be


possible without the implementation of the cable car and the train to transport all of their materials, food and people to and from their village. These modes of transportation have enabled the village to grow and allow for the availability of more goods. Gertch said the residents had a limited supply of goods 40 years ago. Now hotels offer vegetables and other commodities that they did not have access to in the past. He said the transportation services have enabled the people to buy and request more goods. Goetschi said living in the Alps does not present major


problems; it is just a different way of life. Locals have the op- portunity to see familiar faces every day on their commute through public transportation.


Helicopter Von Allmen, material chief for Air-Glaciers in Lauterbrun- nen, said helicopters are another crucial form of transportation


because they reach places that the cable cars and trains cannot go. Helicopters are also important in the Alps because they are used for emergency situations and rescues. “It’s not the climbing in the mountains that are most of the


accidents,” Allmen said. “It’s the hikers [with] bad equipment, no decent shoes for hiking. They overestimate their fitness, and they get tired and go to places where they shouldn’t go.” While these helicopter rescues are incredibly expensive for


visitors — costing anywhere between $2,700 and $7,500 — most helicopter rescues cost nothing to locals. “Most people have insurance that includes helicopter rides


because we need helicopters almost everywhere,” Goetschi said.


Before helicopters were used, rescue teams had to hike up


the mountain and carry the injured back down on a sled, cre- ating a bumpy, painful ride for the passenger. Now, with five helicopters, 15 volunteer employees and two on-call doctors, the rescuers are prepared for any emergency involving skiers, hikers and base jumpers. However, Allmen said rescue mis- sions are not the only reason helicopters are so important. “The helicopter, of course, not only does rescue flights, but


also does supply flights to different alpine huts,” Allmen said. Supply flights take place every two weeks. “If [people] buy a new alpine hut somewhere, you need the helicopter for the transport.” With a highly efficient transportation system, who needs


cars? Alpine living, and even visiting, is possible because of the way the Swiss people have adapted to their living condi- tions. For Goetschi, Mürren’s product manager, living in the Alps is ideal. “We have everything we want here,” she said. “You limit


your life to more basic things, and you do not spend money on things you do not need.”


ALPINE LIVING 2011 | 83


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