Swiss Review 4/2022

floor we find the library, used by the researchers as a workspace. The caretakers' flat is on the fifth floor. From the double bed, there is a view of the Aletsch Glacier, which slopes down to the canton of Valais. Taking a break at lower altitudes Daniela and Erich work in the heights and spend their time off far below in Erstfeld, a village in Uri at the northern end of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Staff rotations take place every two weeks: when they come down, another couple head up. At the time of our visit, Daniela and Erich were preparing to welcome two new custodians. The previous couple lasted four and a half years. “It’s a job that requires a spirit of hospitality and service,” says Daniela, who would like to keep her position until she retires. The first couple who worked at the Jungfrau station didn’t manage to stay together. The husband remained working there for 30 years, despite his wife's departure on the arm of a thing which didn’t occur 20 years ago – or is there hail? The custodians also describe the visibility and cloud cover. Fog is present about 40 percent of the time on the Jungfraujoch. The cloud report is completed by dividing the horizon into eight slices. Ten different types of clouds are categorised. Cirrus clouds are the easy ones, as they form at 9,000 metres. The other heights can be measured by looking at the surrounding mountains: the Jungfrau, the Kleine Scheidegg pass and the Schilthorn. When the sky is clear, the view reaches all the way to the peaks of the Feldberg (Germany) or La Dôle, 150 kilometres away as the crow flies. “This is a central task that mustn’t be neglected no matter what,” says Erich, who since March has been navigating around the station on a makeshift scooter put together by a Jungfrau train employee after he broke his leg in Norway. The station custodians are responsible both for the maintenance of the premises and certain equipment, as well as welcoming the researchers who come to carry out experiments in these facilities. In the maze of corridors and different levels of the Jungfraujoch, we come across a Zurich scientist from the Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and Research. At the Sphinx, we meet a Belgian researcher who is taking part in an experiment launched 50 years ago on the gases contained in the atmosphere. The inhabited part of the station is built into the side of the mountain. Its floors are connected by a small lift in a shaft carved out of the rock. On the ground floor, there is the custodians’ workshop, three laboratories and a laundry room. On the first floor, ten small Swiss-chaletstyle rooms provide accommodation for the researchers. They can also relax in a beautiful wood-panelled lounge whose walls display photos of two foreign researchers who died in a crevasse in 1955 and a custodian killed by a falling rock in 1964. The kitchen is on the third floor with an adjacent living room. On the fourth On the left: The daily caretaking tasks at high altitude are by no means limited to shovelling snow. They also include observing the weather and recording meteorological data. Swiss Review / August 2022 / No.4 Above: Erich Furrer and Daniela Bissig on the Jungfraujoch. Their job requires them to be ready for any weather. Their workplace is exposed to driving snow, frost and storms. Photos: Franziska Frutiger, 11