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La Désalpe, return of the mountain cows

Events

The month of September marks the official transition from summer to autumn in the northern hemisphere. Around the world ski movies premier and ski-bums begin to dream of copious face-shots for the season ahead. In the Alps, increasingly ‘wintry’ weather conditions prevail and snow begins to fall and settle in the alpine. Swiss mountain lore dictates  that the time has come for shepherds to drive their cows, who have spent the summer grazing lush highland meadows, toward the sanctuary of the plains and valley bottoms.

The tradition of this procession of shepherds and cows is celebrated with a festival called Désalpe across Switzerland. La Fouly,  a tiny settlement at the dead-end of Val Ferret (a valley on Switzerland's southern border with France and Italy) is a 45-minute drive south-east from Verbier, and is the local centre for these festivities. It's a  typically picturesque village surrounded by gothic-looking mountains and imposing glaciers. And, as if on cue for Désalpe, the weather turned overnight from weeks of glorious sunshine and high temperatures to a wet, misty and decidedly cooler day.

After four amazing years in Canada’s western interior it was fantastic to return to Switzerland and, within a week, experience a mountain festival that exudes the culture and history of Europe. Below are a selection of images from the day. Next weekend: the Raclette festival in Le Châble. Just part of the joyous induction back into Swiss life … cheese, and more cheese … wine, and more wine … cows, and more cows!


Photographs by Barry Cox.


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Guest 01 September 2015

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Barry joined Bramble Ski in its first formal year of operations in Verbier to run the company's second chalet. He has been with Bramble Ski since then and is now a co-owner, heading up the sales and marketing department.

After studying a post-graduate degree in photojournalism at Rhodes University in South Africa, Barry followed a journalism career in Dublin and London. He took a career break from this to do a winter season and travel the globe, but did not quite anticipate how infectious his new life in the mountains would be.

Nine years on, he is married with three children and lives in Le Châble, Switzerland.

What are you passionate about?: Wild space.

What bugs you?: Arrogance.

Ski/snowboard? Why?: Skiing. Two planks are better than one.

Fave resort?: Kicking Horse in British Columbia.