Alpine Research Station Furka (ALPFOR)
ALPFOR adopted 3 buildings of the former military camp. They are named by prominent organisms:
House Carex, named after the most prominent graminoid genus of the alpine region is the 2-storied former health station. It is used by permanent staff and is the ‘site office’ for visitors. It offers beds for 12 people (no visitor accomodation).
House Rumex, with its name symbolizing the human influence on alpine biota as exemplified by tall Rumex alpinus herbfields on former cattle resting areas, is also 2-storied, with a class-room for 25 people with the ‘Flora galery’ and a little tea-kitchen in the base, and a 10-bed dormitory in the upper floor (under the roof, hot and warm water, toilet, shower).
House Ibex, named after the most prominent alpine ungulate, is the former canteen and officers accomodation. This is the biggest building, with three stories, a very large kitchen in the base, a dining hall/lecture room for up to 100 people, and 8 rooms (2 of which for staff) with 2-4 beds, for up to 20 visitors, extendable by one former saloon, which can be equipped with 8 additional beds. Several toilets, multi-tap bathroom, 3 showers)
So, ALPFOR can host conveniently 30 (with extension a maximum of 40) visitors and has one large and one smaller lecture/course room. The dining hall is so large that it can be used as a field lab/course room, with only one half used for dining. Occasionally this room is used for large daytime visitor groups when bad weather prevents instructions outside.
Research container: for experimental field research an old amunition store provides shelter for data acquistion, instruments and tools 200 m N of house Ibex. This is also where ALPFORs weather station is operating from June to September.
ALPFOR does neither provide food nor room services. Visitors either clean and cook themselves or arrange for personnel with the ALPFOR staff. For groups >10 kitchen personnel is essential. ALPFOR provides bed cloth and wooden blankets but no towels. We recommend you bring your own sleeping bag. Please note, there is no shop on Furka Pass. The next shop is in Andermatt, 15 km away at 1400 m elevation. It takes c. half an hour to get there. There is a small restaurant at ‘Hotel Furkablick’ (not a hotel!) adjacent to ALPFOR, that serves cakes, tea and coffee and light lunches (soup) between 9 and 17 hours. Mobile phones and mobile phone modem internet work well; internet access is only available in house Rumex and Carex.
ALPFOR opens its season officially on June 15 and closes on September 15. Expect a lot of snow around ALPFOR until 1st July. The pass road opens whenever snow permits during May (the road is cut through meters of snow by special machines). The road closes, depending on snow, commonly by mid October, but the road may be closed for 1-2 days at any time during the season because of snow storms. There is no winter access because of high risk of avalanches on all access routs. The best period for field courses is between 10 July and 10 August. Snow may fall any time, but the main growing season is commonly terminated by blizzards end of August, often followed by nice late season weather.
How to contact ALPFOR and make arrangements
Please note ALPFOR operates on a volunteer, non-profit basis with research staff participating in station management. So there are no office hours etc. You can contact us via the following link, from where your mail will be forwarded to appropriate staff:
Universität Basel, Departement Umweltwissenschaften, Schönbeinstrasse 6, 4056 Basel Switzerland
phone: +41-61-207 23 11 or through your personal contact with individual researchers.
ALPFOR has no funding for its running expenses, except through its users. All costs must be covered by user fees. Permant researchers pay bench fees from their home institution or grants, visitors (courses, excursions, or short personal projects) pay 25 Swiss Francs per night, with rooms, bathrooms left behind clean and tidy. Extra fees for course room in Rumex and kitchen in Ibex on request.
During the operating season, you may receive mail daily from Monday - Friday through normal postal services:
Alpine Forschungsstation (ALPFOR), Furka Passhöhe, CH-6491 Realp, Switzerland
ALPFOR is run by the non-profit association ‘Verein Alpine Forschungs- und Ausbildungsstation Furka, ALPFOR’. ‘Verein ALPFOR’ is associated with the University of Basel by its statuary, under which ALPFOR leadership must be by faculty of the university. There is no formal link to the university. The statuary of ‘Verein ALPFOR’ further enforces strict educational and research use of the station. Hence ALPFOR is not permitted to host tourist visitors. Its board includes representative of the district’s landowner community ‘Korporation Ursern’ and the regional branch of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (Scnat) ‘Naturwissenschatliche Gesellschaft Uri’. A further member of the board is from the Basel based foundation ‘Stiftung zur Förderung der Pflanzenkenntnisse’, a trust that greatly contributed to the renovation of the buildings and supports lay-botanist education programs. ALPFOR has a 30 year contract with the Swiss army to use the facility. There are firm plans to transfer ownership to the Korporation Ursern.
Chair of ALPFOR: Prof. Christian Körner
Vice Chair: Prof. Jürg Stöcklin
Chief Executive: Dr. Erika Hiltbrunner
Finances: Franziska Grob
All University of Basel