Zermatt : Meeting the Matterhorn.
Zermatt Travel Blog› entry 26 of 268 › view all entries
âHoly shitake mushrooms!â* The things I have seen with these eyes of mine today.
Start it easy Stevie. An early breakfast and I shoot the breeze a bit with my Canadian pal Thomas. Nice guy. Has a great habit of exclaiming "O-o-oh MAN!" in a really life-affirming, infectious way before and/or after almost everything you or he say. It's fab :) Heâs leaving for Bern in a bit. Today I will be taking up a recommendation by a nice English couple I had a chat with at St.Moritz station yesterday morning, and that is to ascend the mountain on the Gornergratbahn for some the best possible panoramic views of this show-stopping part of the Swiss AlpsâŚ if the weatherâs good for it.
Still quite early morning and the mist and fog are hanging languidly about. Whilst there are promising patches of blue the Matterhorn remains entirely obscured from view. Like some showbiz prima-dona, teasing her eager audience; her fans, she remains steadfastly draped in an exquisite, impenetrable white robe of finest mountain mist and fog. She knows how to play to the gallery. Fear not. Have patience people of Zermatt. The Sunshine Kid is in town today.
The Gornergratbahn is a rack and pinion train that leaves directly opposite from Zermatt main train station and ascends via about 3-4 intermediate stop-off stations up to 3,088 metres at the Gornergrat viewing station. To the topâll cost ya about CHF38.00 (ÂŁ19) for one way and double (no concessions) if you wanna come back down on it too. Do NOT balk at the price my friends. If you get a day like I did you will NOT regret a penny! You can descend back into Zermatt from any stop off point on the way up, and likewise from the Gornergrat summit there are a myriad hiking routes safely back down the mountain into the valley within which Zermatt sits with the Matterhorn glaring imperiously down upon it. Trust me, although I can only vouch for one of these many routes, they are safe and manageable and not scary at all.
There is snow at the top (as youâd expect) and once there at Gornergrat donât just turn and start to rush straight back down. Slow down. Take your time. Walk up the well paved paths that lead up to a kind of retail/ restaurant viewing point building and a little beyond, behind it. Here you juuust tip over 3,100 metres and the panoramic view is justâŚis juuustâŚ sh*t! Hyperboles fail meâŚ fails ME and all m'words?!! ...and Iâve used too much of it (hyperbole that is) in this blog already anywaysâŚ but I have never had views like this in my life! "O-o-oh MAN!" Snow-capped mountains AAAALL around, blue skies (not a cloud in sight âŚagain!) and grounding the whole magnificent, breathtaking composition, the rock that will now hold you hypnotised for the next many hours, the Matterhorn stood proudly in the distance, her misty robes now evaporated to nothingness.
Once I have had my fill of the views I decide to start to head down. First I stop and have a chat with a great guy whoâs sat up there with his sketch board on his knees drafting out his next watercolour masterpiece of the Alpine view.
I start to head down now. By the time I am back at the Youth Hostel it will have taken me 6 and a half hours(ish) to descend but in reality the walk back to Zermatt (depending on your route) can be clocked in about 4.
If Iâm gonna force one further recommendation on you, if you ever find yourself here on a similarly blue-sky afternoon, make sure you head first in the direction of the Riffelsee (Riffel Lake). Two modestly sized little mountain lakes (water pools really) that are perfectly positioned to reflect the magnificence of the Matterhorn and craft compositions that are an Alpine photographerâs wet dream.
Moving onwards and slightly downwards, a turn in the path to a very soft, pastoral greenânâ gold sweeping grass section of the path I spy ahead a small group of people sat resting upon the shrubby slopes. They sit and watch and down the steepish green slope, about 100 feet down or so below a man sleeps within the balmy green embrace of the grasses whilst friends sit around him watching, as if tending gently to his slumber.
The man is not asleep and unfortunately the men gathered around are not his friends.
Tomorrow the man will awaken in hospital (I fervently hope) and his friends - if they be here - will tell him what a lucky man he is. This despite the fact that maybe he is paralysed or has an innumerable number of bones smashed within his frame.
I hope this man survives and is well by the time you read this. But that may not be the case. I will probably never know myself. As I have been sat here not 10 minutes from the scene writing this now I realise a loud clatter-clatter-clatter has been growing in my ears and as I look up over the grassy mountain edge the bright red med-evac helicopter blasts up over the hill lip not more than 50 metres from where I sit the downdraft from the rotor-blades almost ripping my notebook out of my hands. I hope their work is not in vain. A cautionary note my friends.
There are many more moments of awe and wonder on the way down. The occasional mountain flower. More scenic, reflective bodies of water. An amazing moment where a small group group of Chamois (large horned mountain deer) at first only one, then three, then six, then everywhere a spread across the near mountainside are spotted sat majestically. Some upon the mountain ridge, some descending the craggy cliffs to join their compadres who are munching the grasses before our eyes.
"O-o-oh MAN!" What more can be said other than the things in nature I have witnessed today comprise one of the richest visual experiences of my life to date and I guess thereâs not an awful lot more even for an over-enthusiastic wordsmith like myself to say after such a statement so I shall now go and peruse the 250 odd photos I shot off todayâŚ and you think Iâm kiddinâ?! ... "O-o-oh MAN!" :D lol (<-- told you it was infectious!)
* A quotation oft uttered by the protagonist of âExtremely Loud and Incredibly Closeâ by Jonathan Safran Foer the kid being a firm believer that whilst swearing is bad, it is necessary and the offence can be softened if you incorporate the expletive within an everyday phrase or object.