Last weekend, we went to Wilder, Switzerland to see the Tschäggättä and Carnival parade. Wilder is located in the Swiss Alps in the Lötschental Valley. It is one of the most remote places in Switzerland. It remained largely cut off from the outside world until the beginning of the 20th century.
Even then, the valley remained remote and difficult to reach, especially during the winters. It was so isolated that in the 1932, Dr. Weston Price, an American dentist, went there to find cultures relatively untouched by the modern world. He included it in his book of nutritional studies across diverse cultures, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. At the time, some towns in the valley were accessible only by footpath.
When Switzerland built a road into the valley, they did it with typical Swiss quality and precision. It is built into a steep gorge and hugs the side of the mountain. You can see the road climb up the mountain until it disappears into it.
We saw the first bit of snow and ice at the first curve. Coming out of that turn, you hug the edge of the road. If you aren’t the driver, the views are fantastic (even if the drive is a bit hair-raising).
The road zigs and zags up the mountain. Switchbacks abound.
Looking at the map, you can (1) all the switchbacks, and (2) why I am glad that I wasn’t the driver.
Surprisingly, there are cute roadside picnic spots sprinkled along the way.
Since this is Switzerland, there are tunnels and covered areas to protect the roads from impassability due to snow. As you climb back into the valley, the dates on the exterior of the tunnels becomes progressively more recent.
When we exited the tunnels, we thought the road had been reduced to one lane because the road narrowed. We were wrong. Although it may have been slightly more narrow due to the snow, traffic continued in both directions. There just wasn’t much room for you to put a road.
We were rewarded for long drive with a fantastic festival in a stunning setting. It is well worth the effort to get to Wilder.
We were lucky the weather (and roads) was clear. In 1999, around 1,000 avalanches crashed down Switzerland’s mountains. The Lötschental Valley is an avalanche hot spot. That year, avalanches made the road impassable and cut the valley off from the outside world. Tourists and people with health problems were helicoptered out while locals and food were flown in!
- Tschäggättä Parade To Celebrate Carnival In The Lötschental Valley (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- Tschäggättä. Tschwhata? A Swiss Valley’s Unique Carnival Celebration (schwingeninswitzerland.wordpress.com)
- Heavy snow slows road, rail travel in Alps (mysanantonio.com)