Charetalp is indeed a special Alp: There are no cows up there. The Betschart-Imhof family is devoted to sheep and goats. A 1000 sheep for meat production, 40 milk sheep, and 75 goats will spend their summer on the meadows above Muotathal which is known worldwide for its cave system.
Erich Betschart (37) is a true "Älpler": He has spent summer on an Alp since he was... 2 weeks old! He has an education as a farmer as well as a mechanic for agricultural machinery. Together with wife Sandra they have three boys that are avid helpers: Alex (born in 2011), Andy (2014), and Ronny (2016).
Outside transhumance Erich and Sandra operate a farm in Muotathal. Due to the fact that the 14 acres are on heavy slopes, they decided to farm with goats and - 2000 - sheep!
Usually at the beginning of June, the family moves with 50 goats and 20 milk sheep to Alp Bärensol in the valley of Bisisthal at an altitude of just short of 5000 ft. It takes a hike of 3 hours to get there. The first alpage cheeses are produced on Bärensol. A few young cattle graze there as well. Around mid-July, they move up to over 6000 ft. to Charetalp which the family is leasing since 1985. There about a 1000 sheep for meat production, owned by Erich’s dad, join the operation. The cheese production is moved up as well. Since there are no roads that lead to Charetalp, two Haflinger packing horses are used for transportation.
On the first signs of autumn, usually mid-September, the crew goes back to Bärensol until about the beginning of October, when they move to their home farm.