Europe 14 - Day 10


Another day in Zermatt. This was partly planned as a rest day or a contingency for bad weather. It dawned as another cloudness morning. I had read that if you were lucky you might get to see the sunrise light up the Matterhorn, so at 6.05am I ventured out onto our deck to look. It was freezing cold (no shoes...) and I had just missed the start. Well there would be another chance tomorrow. A after breakfast we walked the short distance back to the station and boarded the Gonergrat Railway for another venture into the high Alps. Again it was well worth the money and the cold. At the top lies the "3100 Kulm Hotel" so named for its elevation at 3100m. It too has an outside deck where you can eat (and drink) and watch the Matterhorn, so we did. On the way down I hopped off the train and walked the last leg through the forest. Good in theory but the last of the snow under the trees had turned to ice and parts were treacherous and almost impossible to walk on.

Gonergrat Railway

The Gonergrat railway is another cog rail. It runs from the centre of Zermatt, climbing steeply out of the valley. Soon you are into deep snow with Zermatt a smudge of green far below. The train soon reaches the hotel where you are greeted by wonderful views and a St Bernard dog or two. We watched the black birds (choughs pronounced "chuff" - relatives of crows and ravens) hop around hoping to snatch some food from unsuspecting diners, then it was time to take the train back down again.

Matterhorn 6.08am.
Matterhorn 6.09am.
Now that the sun is up, what's that house doing way up there?.
On the way out - 65% humidity, 1020 mbar and +3C - brrr!.
This our train for the day trip -
The Gonegrat Bahn.
It runs on a cog system and we will need it.
We were early, so plenty of room - for now.
Soon we were off and the familiar mountain was in sight, so...
everybody rushed to that side - wonder it did not tip over.
Up through the tree line.
Then we could look down on the valley.
That's Zermatt way down there.
Now we started climbing in the snow.
The wooden tunnel is a barrier to avalanches.
You can see why - those blocks are as big as houses.
Passing one of the stations.
Across the snow plateau.
And more uphill, the cogs were needed here.
Now at the top.
Don't look where he is pointing - watch out behind you!
What they were looking at.
No worries - St Bernard to the rescue, complete with brandy barrell.
A panorama from the top.
On the path to the hotel, a chapel.
What's this bird doing here - I think he's chuffed to see visitors.
Rocks and snow everywhere.
This has a ski tow on the side and an atmospheric physics monitor on he top.
The Matterhorn in the distance.
Observatories in the snow.
One of many alpine glaciers.
Looking over the Kulm Hotel and the observatories.
More people arrive on the next train.
I could watch this view for hours, especially if you get me another coffee....
If you don't share...
I'll get the whole Chough Family to help.
Coffee for two.
Followed by ham rolls, apple strudel and bubbly for lunch (it seemed to be THE thing to do up here).
Another jet flies over.
The view has changed - there are some clouds appearing, not a good sign.
Must be time to go, back down the slippery path.
Rent a dog - that's where Bernard came from at $15 per photo.
Another train load arrives.
This proves I was there.
Map of the region. Every place seems to be named "paradise".

Going down - by train and walking track

We hopped on the train and headed back down. I had seen on the map that you could get off at any of the stations and walk. The snow was rather too deep for most of the way, so I got off at the last station - Findelbach - and followed the well-signposted track down. Only problem was the overnight freeze had turned the top of the snowpack into ice, so that the downhill was more ice-skate than walk. I had good hiking boots on. The couple that followed me had smooth-soled shoes. I think she might have had problems....

The train was ready to take us back down to Zermatt.
Gonergrat - 3089 m. That's rather high.
Going back down, the cogs earned their keep again.
Half way down anothe hotel - closed at this time of year.
Couldn't resist one last photo.
That's where we are heading - its green!.
At Findelbach Station where I got off.
Looking back up the line.
A signpost - Zermatt this way.
The track down - very icy it was.
The train goes over this bridge.
Looking down into Zermatt.
The snow was disappearing fast from the track.
Danger in four languages (five if you count the picture).
The first of the ski chalets and the rail bridge.
Another sign to Zermatt.
The valley side.
And finally back to the view from our hotel room.


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Last updated: 21/09/2014