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Favorite thing: After our hike from Sunnegga paradise to Riffelalp (2200 m) we had two options to get back to Zermatt (1620 m).
Either take the Gornergrat railway or follow the Arvenweg (Swiss stone pine trail).
As the weather was fine and we were still in good shape we decided to follow the Arvenweg downwards.
The trail starts opposite to the Riffelalp station and leads in steep serpentines through a pine and larch forest downwards to Winkelmatten which is a district of Zermatt.
The trail is about 4,5 km long and the difference in altitude is more than 600 m. It took us 2 h to get to Zermatt as walking downwards on such a steep trail can be pretty exhausting.
The way is well signposted and has good vantage points for panoramic views of Zermatt.
Updated Sep 1, 2007
Favorite thing: Each year I notice improvements on my favorite Swiss ski area, which make more attractive this snowy paradise.
I think it is important to have a quick outlook over planned projects about the ski area.
Good news for 2006/07:
Furi-Riffelberg cable car link in time for winter.
A new 8-seat cable car will be built for service between Furi and Riffelberg. It will run from Furi via Schweigmatten up to Riffelberg (where it joins the Gifthittli chairlift). The cable car is scheduled to open in time for winter 2006. So the Matterhorn ski area will be directly linked to the Gornergrat ski area.
Since the merger in 2002 up to the end of 2005, Zermatt Bergbahnen AG has already invested more than CHF 130 million. These are the most important investments:
- 8-seat cable car Matterhorn-Express (Zermatt - Furi - SchwarzSee)
- 6-seat chair lift with hoods Furggsattel Gletscherbahn (the world longest chairlift on a glacier)
- 6-seat chair lift with hoods Gifthittli chair lift
- Extension to Gandegg skilift
- Sunnegga - Blauherd Combi cableway (8-seat cable cars and 6-seat chair lifts)
- Elevator from Riedweg to the Sunneggabahn tunnel
Snow making systems are continously improved and extented to guarantee enough snow at the beggining of the Winter ski season (end of November).
The following are planned over the next few years:
- 4-seat chair lift Sunnegga - Findeln - Breitenboden (season 2006/07)
- 4-seat chair lift Gant - Rosenritz (season 2007/08)
Long-term important cableway projects:
- 8-seat cable car Matterhorn-Express extension from Schwarzsee to Trockener Steg
- New development at Stockhorn
- 4-seat chair lift at Hörnli
- Infrastructure extension at Klein Matterhorn
Wow enough to do and ride for the future ;-)
Fondest memory: The excellent and confortable ski cableways systems with a high debit (no queue or less) and plenty of large slopes and endless snow powder fields...
Updated Sep 2, 2006
Favorite thing: I have my theories about why this mountain is so popular. First of all, it is jagged, steep on all sides, and very tall. Many mountains in the world are like this, but most of them blend in with other peaks. The Matterhorn is a freestanding mountain somewhat in isolation from the other peaks. This makes it very dramatic in appearance and thus draws people from all over the world to see it.
There are debates concerning the best vantage point. Some say Gornergrat, others say the center of Zermatt, others will argue in favor of the Schwarzee area. I would recommend as many vantage points as possible and then try and decide that answer. If you are like me, you would probably like all of them.
There is no guarantee that the mountain will be visible during a visit to Zermatt. The best chance is to spend as much time here as possible, and watch the sky at various times of the day. Be sure to check on it at first light or even at sunset. Sometimes, mornings tend to be clearer than the afternoon as the moisture builds on a warm summer day.
Written Jun 24, 2006
Edelweiss is probably the best known flower on the Alps. As you will discover during your Alpine tour, many others are perfectly adapted to this hostile environment.
Be aware that many of Alpine flowers are rare and protected by Swiss law, so respect the nature.
Plants have deployed many inventive resources to survive at these high altitudes.
The bright colours of the mountain meadow flowers are not there by chance, they are vital to their survival and reproduction. In the first place, the pigments protect them from the intensive ultra violet rays found at high altitude. Secondly, weather conditions often prevent insects from flying, so the plants cannot afford to waste a moment of precious pollination time. The colours attract the insects without which they could not reproduce.
As glaciers melt, they leave behind unstable, stony ground, with no water and no nutrients. And yet within just a few years, specially adapted plants manage to colonise this apparently hostile terrain. Mosses move in first, producing a thin layer of humus when they die, which gives a chance to another species to take root. The greatest problem for these pioneers is not so much the lack of soil as the constantly moving ground: even the tiniest plants anchor themselves with roots that can be a meter long, and their underground shoots are always ready to put out new sprouts if they find themselves buried by rolling stones.
Plants growing on rock faces have developed various strategies to deal with water shortage. The poor soil is unable to retain moisture, and the sun beating down on the cliffs soon removes what is left. Strong winds, common at high altitude, would dry out the leaves of normal plants. But the ones here have developed different coping strategies. Some are covered in hairs, which deflect part of the sun's rays, and also form a layer of air which traps moisture, while others have a waxy coating.
Fondest memory: Alpine Flora
Updated Jul 6, 2005
If somebody whistle for you on the Alps, don't worry it is certainly a marmot. You will able to observe some typical Alpine fauna during your stay as marmots, ibex, chamois, mountain hares, white fieldmouses, hawks, eagles,…
More about the marmots, which eat the different types of grass growing at this altitude in the mat-like vegetation and alpine meadows. They hibernate in winter in their tunnelled burrows, living on the fat reserves they have accumulated during the summer. The dry leaves they collect to line their nests make their homes extremely cosy. Marmots are solitary animals and emit a short, piercing alarm call (danger on the ground) or a long drawn-out call (danger from above). The golden eagle is their greatest enemy.
Another Alpine athlete, the chamois can run along a 60° steep rockface, jump down easily from a height of 8 metres and overcome an altitude of 1,000 metres in 15 minutes, a trained person would take 3 hours to do the same thing.
Lately we have a polemic especially about the reintroduction of the wolf (and soon bear?) in our Swiss Alpine region due to repetitive attacks against local sheep herds. So do not be surprise to met some around, although you will be very lucky ;-)
Fondest memory: Alpine fauna
Updated Jul 5, 2005
Favorite thing: Skiing, what an unusual experience in summer.
Zermatt and Saas-Fee will offer you the largest summer snow sports area in Europe. Both totalise about 40 kilometres of slopes depending on the snow conditions.
Attracive snow parks are also available on both site with a superpipe, halfpipe,
with kikkers, jumps and rails. A real delight for snowboarders and freeskiers.
You will be able to see some national and international ski teams for a training session.
Summer ski area are continuously improved as for proof Zermatt Bergbahnen and our former Swiss Ski Champion Pirmin Zubbriggen, which owned and managed a 4* hotel in Saas Almagell, inaugurated the Furggsattel chairlift in 2003 (the longest on an Alpine glacier).
Go skiing the morning for best snow conditions and before the snow will
become too slushy = time for après-ski… so head to the chill zone with music and couches, perfect place to relax.
Fondest memory: A Superb Swiss Sunny Snowy Beach on The Alps...
Updated Jul 5, 2005
The Matterhorn is the emblem of Zermatt and its shape could have inspired our Swiss chocolate master for the creation of the Toblerone.
Although different versions exist of where the unique shape of Toblerone originated from, I find this one the more tatsy ;-)
More info on Choco paradise
Fondest memory: Just taste it...
Updated Jul 5, 2005
Favorite thing: Thanks to these webcams, you will be able to observe the Matterhorn under all the angles…
Useful if you want to know the current weather conditions. I particularly appreciate to use it in winter for snow conditions (or waiting queue length at the ski lifts) and decide if I will ski there at the next week-end.
The Rothorn webcam is a good indicator with the snow level on the outdoor bar roof, but take in count the wind possibility…
So just take a live virtual tour around the Matterhorn and its surroundings. Watch out Big Brother is watching you ;-)
Fondest memory: The Matterhorn and surroundings...
Updated Jul 5, 2005
Around Zermatt you could admire many 4000m peaks. If you go to the Gornergrat you will discover the highest Swiss peak:
la Pointe Dufour (Dufourspitze) with its 4'634m which is part of the Monte Rosa.
At its base, two glaciers, the Grenzgletscher and Gornesgletcher, are joining to offer you an impressive view on this iced sea. Where you could guess on its surface some tiny alpinists conquering these surroundings peaks...
Updated Jul 4, 2005
Favorite thing: There is no real easy way to get your skis and yourself to the train station without walking in your ski boots...keep this in mind or arrange for a cab to pick you up if you have to carry skis for kids.
Written Mar 17, 2005
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