Monday, December 12, 2011

How to become a famous Swiss mountain

What does it take to become a famous Swiss mountain?

Is it sheer size? Or is it views? Accessibility? Or just good looks? After carrying out extensive research, I came up with a list of tips for all the Swiss mountains who wish to rise to notoriety.

For our purposes, we will quantify fame based on the number of Google search hits.

1. No need to be super-tall, just be the tallest thing around.
With her 15,203', Monte Rosa is the highest mountain in Switzerland and boasts 1.8 million hits. That's the same as Pilatus, less than half Monte Rosa's size, because Pilatus is the tallest thing right around Lucerne, and..

2. Location beats elevation.
It pays off to be in Central Switzerland. Mount Rigi, the quintessential Central Swiss mountain, returns 1.5 million hits in spite of her 5896'. In fact, Rigi towers over a large portion of the Swiss plateau and offers...

3. Sweeping vistas.
If you’re the tallest thing around and right in the middle of things, you offer a great view over things that people recognize, like Lake Lucerne below you or a huge chunk of the alpine range in the distance. Or Lake Lugano, in the case of 5000’ tall Monte Lema, which returns 1.3 million hits and is within easy reach of my Swiss home. Did I just say easy reach?

4. Be accessible.
Rigi, Pilatus, Lema, Säntis...each of them is well above one million hits, and each of them offers public transportation to her summit. Gondola or train, it doesn’t even have to climb to your tippy-top, just close enough. Jungfrau gets 1.8 million hits and her world-famous Jungfrau train only makes it as far as a saddle 2000 feet below the top. But you may not necessarily want hordes of tourists flocking to eat overpriced fondue and enjoy a $10 cup of questionable coffee, in which case you could just...

5. Stand out.
Along with Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch are visible from lots of places in northern Switzerland and jointly total 2.3 million hits. Jungfrau is German for “young woman”; Eiger is an “ogre”, and Mönch is a “monk”...what's in a name?

6. Doff thy name.
At 14’022, Finsteraarhorn is taller than her celebrity neighbors Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. She is the tallest thing around, and her tip is visible from countless places both north and south of the alpine divide. Her name, which translates to "Peak of the Obscure (River) Aar", makes English speakers such as myself fear their tongue may snap, and her Google hit count is 10 times lower than Eiger’s. But Eiger also understands that any image-conscious Swiss mountain should...

7. Develop a corporate image.
Eiger’s North Face is indeed The North Face, although the corporate logo is supposed to be Yosemite’s Half Dome. 9203’ foot tall Calanda, near Chur, has a beer brand named after her. But what if you’re tucked away in a remote corner of Switzerland, you’re surrounded by taller mountains, only true climbers can climb you, and they can’t see you unless they make a dedicated trip? There’s hope for you, provided that you...

8. Look like the Matterhorn.
The most famous of all Swiss mountains does have a train to her base, but it takes forever to get there from pretty much anywhere. Not to mention that you need a wallet the size of an accordion to stay in Zermatt. She’s surrounded by bigger mountains, and I can't go check out the view from her summit, since hyper-vertical rock climbing doesn't come naturally to dachshunds. Yet, she gets 4 million hits because she looks like the Matterhorn!

For the record, the string “Matterhorn Disneyland” returns more than 1 million hits.

Note: In the interest of fairness, the numerical data reported herein was acquired by way of the Google search patterns “mountain name and Switzerland”.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! Where exactly did you take the photo number 8? Just asking :)


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