For generations, the Bissig family in Isenthal owned Musenalp until they sold it to Sepp Herger in 2013. Sepp had grown up on neighboring “Alpeli” which is just a 10 min. walk away. He operates the Alp with his partner Andrea Gysin who he married just before transhumance 2020. Together they move 40 cows, 20 goats, and 10 pigs up to the Alp where they stay from the beginning of June until mid-September.
Musenalp consists of about 60 hectares (150 acres) of Alp meadows and stretches from an altitude of 4430 feet a.s.l. to 5800 feet and is located at the foot of the famous Uri Rothorn peak. Musenalp can only be accessed by foot, or with the little open cable car which is essentially the lifeline during transhumance. Whereas the Restaurant is still owned and operated by the Bissig family, the cable car belongs to Sepp Herger.
During the summer’s peak, when the animals graze on the highest meadows, they are milked under the open sky. The milk is then immediately transported by cable car to the dairy. The operation is simple, small, and very traditional. Sepp and Andrea do all the work, although this year, they hired a helper because the couple also is leasing a farm down in Isenthal. The help will allow Sepp to take care of the haying in the valley.
The Musenalpkäse is made over a wood fire which also provides hot water. There’s only a little generator that produces electricity for the lights and the stirrer. Labor intense is the work on the meadows. The grass is cut with the motor mower, but then collected and transported by hand. Which is a tiring task on those steep slopes.
On “Älpeli” where Sepp grew up his parents still do transhumance in the third generation. They produce goat milk cheeses. The milk of the 10 to 12 cows is sent to Musenalp where all the Alpkäse is made.
Sepp is also a very passionate goat breeder. The goats stay on the newly leased farm. Sepp has won several breeder awards. In the winter he and Andrea sell their excellent cheeses at different markets. Even famous affineur Rolf Beeler is a customer!