Oberstienberg Inn is located at the end of the Upper Lauterbrunnen Valley. It is a picture perfect mountain hotel. No electric wires or roads tie it to civilization. The only way to reach it is by hiking up 2,000 feet from the valley floor. Once the sun has set below the mountain horizon candles create a magical and romantic atmosphere.
You might wonder how they serve all their guests with no roads to bring in supplies. Well, who needs roads when you can fly?
At Alpinehikers we stay at the Obersteinberg Inn during our Bernese Oberland Traverse Tour. On this particular tour our group had spent a cozy night at the inn and was geared up and ready to hike the following morning. After breakfast we were invited to check out the cheese making operation on property. As we walked over to the cheese making barn, I couldn’t help but notice a large pile wrapped up in netting waiting out on the lawn. It consisted of empty beer and wine bottles in pallets, trash bags loaded full, and other empty boxes.
Today was resupply day, when the old empty trash was replaced by new fresh fare. You see… all the remote inns and huts receive their supplies by helicopter delivery. The essentials include beer, wine, and toilet paper…….food is included somewhere in there too.
Sensing that the delivery was imminent we postponed our hiking departure in order to see the airborne delivery. Soon, we could see a small black spot rising up from the valley.
The helicopter grew larger and larger the closer it came. We could see that below the helicopter hung a cable with a load of supplies attached to the end. Due to the weight of the libations the supplies flew under the helicopter pulling the line tight. As the helicopter grew closer the air whirred with motion. The grass below our feet suddenly dropped flat quivering under the force of the wind coming off the propellers. We hung onto our hats tightly and squinted our eyes against airborne dirt.
Two men from the inn helped guide the goods gently to the ground. We couldn’t help but make commentary on one of these gentlemen (hint….he’s the one on the right).
He was dressed in tight black spandex shorts with wide purple stripes down the sides. The kicker was that his shirt read in bold white letters “Sex Instructor.” Did he know what his shirt said? Either way, we were watching this Lycra clad gentleman operate the helicopter delivery.
Once the resupply was safely on the ground and unhooked the “Sex Instructor” connected the net full of empty bottles and trash. With a wave of his hand, signaling that the cargo was secure the pilot pulled away, taking the turbulent air with him. The whole exchange had taken under five minutes. Slow we were told, due to the pilot being in training.
The wind lifted as the helicopter left with trash in tow. I could loosen the grip on my hat and be heard by the group without yelling. If you’ve never been in the presence of a helicopter before, know that they are loud! Once again the grass stretched tall towards the sun over head. Shouldering my pack, I found myself thinking about all the helicopter deliveries made around Switzerland. How there were so many talented pilots. How impressively efficient the whole system was.
Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder. Were there any other “Sex Instructors” wearing special outfits to greet giant flying metal birds?