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Zermatt, Switzerland

  • Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland
Photo of Zermatt, Switzerland
Photo by flickr user Wilsont.net

No matter where you find yourself on the slopes of this remarkable ski area, the granite monolith of Europe’s most famous peak, the Matterhorn, seems to follow you around. Although by no means the highest of the 29 peaks above 4,000 metres around Zermatt, its stand-alone, savage beauty commands attention. Of the three main skiing areas, perhaps the best and friendliest sector to start with is traditionally the “sunny-side” of the valley, at Sunnega. This is the gateway to skiing at Unterrothorn (3103 m) Stockhorn (3405 m) and most famously, Gornergrat (3100m), with the Kulm, a large, quaint hotel, at the top. A wide, sunny terrace overlooks the Gornergletscher and one of the greatest panoramas in the Alps. Almost shoulder to shoulder, are the Monte Rosa, at 4634 metres - second in the Alps only to Mont Blanc in altitude - Lyskamm, the twin peaks of Castor and Pollux, Breithorn and the Klein Matterhorn, where Europe’s highest cable car takes skiers and boarders to the Italian border, where they can make their way down to Cervinia in the Aosta Valley. From the Gornergrat there is a clutch of easy blues going down to Riffelberg. The runs down from Stockhorn and Unterrothorn to Blauherd, including Zermatt’s celebrated Triftji, are more difficult, but from Blauherd back down to Sunnegga, the terrain opens out into easy cruising. Furi, at the far end of the village, is the gateway to the Trockener Steg link to Klein Matterhorn and Theodulpass, close to the Italian border, and Schwarzsee, nearest the foot of the Matterhorn. Some of Zermatt’s most challenging bump runs are encountered below Schwarzsee, on the way back to Zermatt via Furri. Intermediates can take the Weisse Perle, a nice roller-coaster red as an alternative route. This gives skiers and boarders a wonderful opportunity visit some of the mountain restaurants for which Zermatt is so justly famous.

Written by  Arnie Wilson.

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