The growing culture that is Swiss

While only 25% of the Swiss population hiked regularly in 2000, today the figure is 44%.

That is from Dina Pomeranz, original source here.


They have to keep down the feral Pokemon population down somehow.

Damn, I put my Pokemon comment under the Faroe Islands post; you bested me.

Sample sample bias error. Nothing changes that quick in exercise especially with increasingly elderly populations.

I would not assume a negative relationship between an ageing population and regular hiking. An increasingly large portion of the older population is physically active, and retired people have more time for leisure pursuits like hiking.

I don't know anything about Switzerland, but hiking has been successfully promoted in Los Angeles over the last quarter century.

Hiking in the Hollywood Hills is much more popular today than when I was young. Back then, an extraordinary fraction of hikers above Beverly Hills had been Swiss, German, or Swedish. In the 1970s, if you said "Good Day" to a fellow hiker, a large fraction would reply, "Guten tag." Nobody else other than Northern Europeans seemed too interested.

Since then, a lot of taxpayer and charitable money has gone into buying up land for interesting trails and, importantly, providing parking lots.

A turning point in hiking's popularity in Los Angeles appears to have been the 1991 recession, when the new loop of trails opened up by the Tree People foundation and their clever marketing made it fashionable as low cost exercise.

The public seems to prefer wide fire roads to narrow trails, and likes leash-free dog parks: thus Runyon Canyon in West Hollywood, bought by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy in 1984, is hugely popular.

Does this correlate with the recent spate of articles on a lack of minorities that go hiking or go visit natural parkland? Maybe the Swiss are finding out this lifehack to enjoy a homogeneously Swiss recreational period.

'to enjoy a homogeneously Swiss recreational period'

This is so funny when you consider that the Swiss divide themselves into different groups, and do not consider themselved homogenous at all. As noted here - 'Switzerland is one of the few multilingual countries in Europe that does not have political difficulties with its linguistic minorities. Yet it would be fundamentally wrong to think of Switzerland as a country without historical conflicts. Modern Switzerland was not created by one homogeneous ethnic people but by different ethnic groups speaking different languages and following different religions. As in other countries, the processes of nation building, industrialization, urbanization and modernization were accompanied by societal conflicts.

But over the past 150 years, Switzerland has been fortunate to find political ways of achieving multicultural understanding; this has been based mainly on two concepts. First, Switzerland renounced the idea of creating a culturally homogeneous nation-state. Instead, from the very beginning of its modern existence, it has been an “artificial” multicultural nation, depending on the political will of its inhabitants with different cultures. Second, Switzerland was able to create a type of democracy that favours and enforces political power sharing between the different cultural groups. This led to social and political integration, peaceful conflict resolution by negotiation, and national consensus among a once-fragmented and heterogeneous population.'

@Horhe: minorities? You mean German, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese people?

You have to be comfortable in your affluence for "acting car-less" and "acting homeless" to be fun.

@ prior:

You are right, of course, but I had a point to make.

But you should watch that non-European component. Latin America + Asia + Africa make around a quarter of a million people. You don't suddenly decide to ban minarets without a whiff of grapeshot hanging in the air, even if it is wafting in from France and Germany, mainly.

I knew a German Swiss and he was incredibly rude about the other Swiss. He also said that Luxembourg is like the fat ugly girl you do your best to ignore.

Nonwhites go for hiking on roads, like Fryman Canyon out of Laurel Canyon, more than they go for hiking on trails. White people like to get away from other people in the wild, while nonwhites like to go some place popular with lots of people around.

I once went on a very brisk 5 mile hike organized by the Orange County Sierra Club. The guy leading it mentioned that he was 90. That was particularly amazing, but I met lots of active hikers cluster 60-70. I did Mount Whitney with some 70 year olds.

Anecdotally, my parents and relatives rarely talked about hiking. Outdoors activities? Sure: snowmobiling, fishing, boating. My grandfather did not retire to the Wisconsin Northwoods for no reason.
But no hiking.
In my friend group, hiking is an almost universal activity. Other outdoor activities seem to have fallen by the wayside. Kayaking/canoeing also seem a lot more common. Biking is more common, too.

At one time it was a mark of affluence to own a bunch of motorized vehicles. Now it is a mark of affluence not to own any.

Being a yuppie with no car definitely outranks being a poor guy with a third-hand pickup. But there's still plenty of us suburban yuppies that get judged by car status. Weird status games. I got my Ford Escape because it handled better than anything else in class, and the Rav-4 was a tiny POS.

LA hiking sucks-- hot, brown scrub, no shade, ticks, poor access- for most of the year. Biking to and along the ocean (with breaks to dive into it) beats those hills all day every day. That's my westside perspective, anyway.

Plus, moar Pokemon at the Boardwalk and Promenade.

Do Sturtevant Falls in the spring, after some rain.

The first week of Pokemon Go, I went to the Santa Monica Pier: a memorable experience: 5,000 people all looking at their phones, interacting with nonexistent beings.

True dat. I've been on Swiss mountain trails 20 years ago, and as recently as last summer. No doubt that there are somewhat more peole on the move, but I for one haven't noticed a huge difference.

Switzerland is not very good for hiking. Not enough flat parts.

Does it count as hiking if you're on flat parts?

Sure! Hiking just means walking around in a rustic environment. Incline has nothing to do with it.

Hiking is a modern word, where I'm from we still call it walking. In fact, I'm still not sure what exactly qualifies as a hike. There's lots of North American walking jargon that has never made it across the Atlantic.

Hiking across WalMart parking lots in the heat is no joke.

Categorisation error? Friends of mine there used to go walking to pick mushrooms. Could that have been classified as hiking now but not then?

yes, the term "hiked regularly" is highly subjective, and also merely a rough translation from whatever German language term was used in the original, very soft source.

the 25% - 44% change "statistic" is obviously faulty, as Ray Lopez noted above.

MR really luvs tossing out these fuzzy "media-based-statistics" as apparent gospel.

As a foreigner living in Switzerland I just love their relationship with their mountains. On the other side of the Atlantic outdoor activities are sadly mixed with prudish attitudes: eat only plants, don't drink alcohol......boring. In Switzerland going outdoor is a social activity and involves salty, greasy and delicious food with generous amounts of white wine or kirsch. You can have the same fun you have with fat guys in cammo riding quads but doing a real physical activity. People don't count calories or speaks about "training hard". If feels good to do sport without being around pretentious overachievers.

Ray says hiking is not compatible with aging population. I'm 35 and sometimes envious of the leg muscles of 60+ years old men and women I see on the matter what I do my genes say "you're a ultra distance type guy", so forever thin. On weekends, it's funny to ride the bike and by 10 AM see all the retired already drinking wine after their hike. Physical infrastructure and no big cities help. Relatively old people can ride a cable car or a train to the top and just walk down. Also, most of people live in "towns". 10 min walk from the house and you're already on the forest/lake/river trail. People in big cities need to travel more to get to the forest, but no more than 20% of people lives in large urban areas.

I wonder where's the ceiling for this. It can't be 100%. People with physical occupations don't go outdoors that much. The people you encounter on the trails are mostly retired or office people. Perhaps a high % of people in service jobs adds to high % of people hiking. Also, physical activities are high status. Fat rich people seems to be a oxymoron around here.

If the definition of hiking means "using a marked trail", it could be different to image people have on their heads when they read "hiking". People walks the dog on yellow marked trails, I bike to work on a yellow trail, but......if you walk 20-30 min a day it doesn't matter if the yellow trail passes in front of your house in the middle of the town, right? You're hiking.

Yeah there's always exceptions: my 80+ year old Greek uncle used to climb insanely high fig trees like a monkey and pick the fruit. He stopped now that's he's 90. But I wouldn't do that except when I was 10 years old. He fell off a few times to no ill effects. The entire neighborhood was terrified of him climbing but he wouldn't stop.

I think if the stats are accurate it's just classification error, like picking mushrooms back then is hiking now. Sailer's point on LA culture is bogus since the Swiss don't change as much as the Americans, not into fads as much.

"If feels good to do sport without being around pretentious overachievers."

For me exercise≠sport. I find it confusing when I ask a German "Do you like sport?" and they answer "Yeah, I go swimming and I cycle to work" when what I'm really asking is "What football team do you support?"

In the country where i come from, my perception is that the change in "exercise rate" has been of that order of magnitude. I think it could be true, even the statistic is faulty.

I think the definition of what qualifies as a "hike" might have changed in the last 20 years.

Maybe, maybe not. "HIkes" that I've done in California qualify as mountaineering. It's fun, I know old people who do it as well. I snowshoed to an 8,500 foot peak, and again there was a 70 year old lady in our group.

And then they sit unshowered on trains. Not progress.

+1. I do not go on trains, but I sometimes go into restaurants. But fast casual at the most.

I can believe it, since the same change seems to have taken place here in Washington state. A lot of the growth has come from "hiking is solely a form of exercise" types who can be found in large numbers on any trail close to Seattle that gains more than 1,000 feet per mile. Please don't tell them about my favorite trail.

For the good it does them.

For all you German readers, here is the link to the actual study of 2014 based on over 10'000 phone interviews.

Swiss hiking culture (Wanderkultur) is also reflected in some fairly unique property right laws. It is illegal to restrict access to both public and private forests and marked hiking trails regularly cross private agricultural land - mostly cow and cattle pastures - which leads every year to the odd deadly hiker/cow encounter.

The right to roam is found in quite a few European nations. Those Finns need the ability to be at least 5km away from the nearest human, otherwise they might end up having a conversation.

Everybody knows that Swiss hiking culture is full of holes.

I suspect in the UK and the US it is the other way around these days!

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