Okay, so I’m pretty sure that there is a very simple answer to this question, but I didn’t think of asking anyone while I was in the neighborhood, and Google has been of little help. But, clearly, there are either terraces cut into, or walls set on to, the granite peak of this mountain just outside of Martigny Switzerland. The question is: who put them there, and why?
Update: a Swiss citizen who should know told me that those are actually large wooden structures that are intended to prevent avalanches. Fair enough, but there seems to be no one living on the slope beneath to protect… Maybe the Swiss just generally disapprove of avalanches, and stop them whenever and wherever they can?