Skiing Zermatt

Glorious scenery, fabulous weather.

Three days of skiing in Zermatt, surrounded by gorgeous scenery and in perfect weather. Sunshine, no wind, temps around the freezing point. Good snow conditions. 40 open lifts, 211 kilometers of open slopes. No crowds, no lines. The Matterhorn in view nearly all the time, flanked by incredible snow-covered peaks and dripping with ancient glaciers. It doesn’t get much better than this. Read on, and check the photo gallery!

The Matterhorn, seen late afternoon from the ski slopes at Zermatt.

Thursday: as noted in my earlier post, we arrived in late morning, rented skis, and checked into our hotel, Chateau Shönegg. We hopped on the Sunegga express (an underground express cog railway to the middle of the slopes). From here we explored widely, enjoying the late-afternoon sun, before taking the long winding ski run that cuts through the lowland forest and ends at an elevator just above our starting point. Excellent dinner at the hotel.

View of the Matterhorn from Rothorn, (3103m).

I marked our route on the resort’s map:

Thursday’s route.

Friday: I bought an all-day pass and used the trains and gondolas to climb high on the mountain – with my camera gear rather than skis. Later, after some shopping, we grabbed our skis and rode all the way up to Rothorn, at 3103m (10,180′), where we ordered fresh pizzas for lunch and soaked in the sunshine. Then, we skied down and up, zigzagging our way toward the Matterhorn. A final cable car – the highest in the Alps – dropped us at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (3883m, 12,740′), the highest point in the Zermatt ski area. Here, we ski nearly flat across a huge plateau, toward Italy and with expansive views of the Italian Alps… before veering right and down to Zermatt. The drop is 2263m (7,424 feet), all in one run! Walked through town back to the hotel. Excellent dinner at Potato, a fine-dining localvore option.

The Italian Alps, and the Matterhorn at right, seen from Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
Friday’s route; Italy is on the right.

Saturday: We had plans to return to Zürich this afternoon – good timing, too, because now the tourists are really starting to flood into town. We took a mid-morning train to Gornergrat – reached via a historic cog railway – to soak in the views. From there we skied our way down and back up to Rothord, then down and up a couple times before dropping back into Zermatt. The highlight today was the visit to Gornergrat at 3089m (10,134′), with its grand views and impressive overlook to the Gorner glacier.

The Gorner glacier dominates the view below Gornergrat.
Saturday’s route

Gallery: don’t miss the photo gallery, including a brief video clip of skiing with the Matterhorn in view. Yet to come: photos of the Matterhorn as it catches the early light during sunrise.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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