Between my seven visits to Zermatt, I’d say that I’ve learned this corner of the valley pretty well for a visitor. But ask about the valleys that surround Zermatt, or the mountains that ring Zermatt, and I can only identify the immediately recognizable. (Indeed, from my photos one would think I could only pick out the Matterhorn!) Beyond that valley, my knowledge is even rustier. The figurative breathlessness of the Alps is not limited to Switzerland; the breadth of these is imaginable but is practically unrealizable for those removed from alpine business, so it is with great happiness that I live so close now to the unimaginable vastness. While most of my hikes have been solitary, somehow the magic of the mountains burns stronger when a friend comes to visit.
Perhaps surprising to some, German — or more specifically German spoken by Bavarians (… and Austrians and sometimes the Swiss) — features rolled Rs in speech, and more so when expressing extreme persuasion, like when finally convincing someone of a point you’ve been making (“R-r-r-r-richtig!“). It’s something I’m not particularly good at; Mandarin doesn’t have the sound whatsoever and French uses a guttural R, a sound which for some unknown reason I can make. But my lack of familiarity with the local treatment of the letter is not just with its phonetics: extrapolating the scientific certainty that two data points are always enough to determine a trend [n.b.: sarcasm], mountains whose names begin with R also seem to pose a problem.