That’s as good as it got in 2019
We first came to Zermatt in 2019 to see the iconic Matterhorn, but sadly due to the overcast and wet mountain weather, we were never to spot it – not even once (unless you count the tiny tip I saw from our hotel verandah one night for less than a minute). That’s why we wanted to return so badly.
Four years on and lots and lots of ‘willing it to be fine and clear weather’, The Matterhorn did not let us down.
The weather truly answered my months of ‘wishing’
Whichever direction we went, whatever corner we turned there she was – magnificent, majestic and huge. We realized that when we did the walk down from Trockener Steg gondola station (The Matterhorn Glacier Trail) in 2019, The Matterhorn was within spitting distance. But we just didn’t have a clue.
As we approached Zermatt in the train, the excitement was building as we were seeing snowcapped mountains, but nothing prepared us for The Matterhorn’s sheer size and imposing presence over Zermatt as we walked from the train station and spotted her.
The Matterhorn overlooking the streets of Zermatt
Bob had prepared the schedule of walks and had actually ‘google walked’ them in the months leading up to our trip. His attention to detail was flawless and really you don’t have to bother researching if you are heading to Zermatt – just follow his itinerary. After arriving we walked the streets of Zermatt and then headed up to the The Matterhorn Viewpoint (a lookout to capture the best view of Zermatt and the Matterhorn) to check out the view along with hundreds of other photographers. They were all waiting for sunset to give special colour to the mountain and catch the twinkling Zermatt night lights in the front, but sadly I was starting to crash and 9.30pm sunset was beyond my staying power after a big travel day.
The Matterhorn from Zermatt Lookout
On the first full day in Zermatt, we caught the funicular to Sunnegga (built in 1980) – a fast way to climb 2288 metres! The engineering and infrastructure of everything around Zermatt is mind-blowing. The gondolas, trains and ski lifts in this area have been here for many years – the train to Gornergrat was established 125 years ago! We have a lot to learn about such things in Australia.
We then caught a gondola to Blauherd (2571metres). We were wanting to go on up to Rothorn (3103metres), but sadly it was still closed. You do have to be careful not to go too early in the month of June to Zermatt if summer hiking is what you are after, as some lifts/gondolas and refugios (places to eat and drink) are not yet open. Check the Zermatt websites, but 1st July seems to be the commencement date for quite a few activities. But one thing is important to realise, this time of the year is very quiet on the tracks, which is a wonderful thing when you are amongst such beauty.
When I was in The Hague attending IUGA Conference, I met a lot of wonderful pelvic health physiotherapists. I was very lucky to have my colleague Alexandra Schafer introduce me to many of her European physio friends. One of them was Baerbel Junginger and she told me she cried when she first saw the mountains up at the top. So, I was prepared. Sort of.
Nothing can actually prepare you for the sheer beauty and magnificence of this region. So yes, I also also cried. It was truly breathtaking.
After four days in Zermatt you would think you would get used to the staggering scenery, but still on our last day when walking, we would turn a corner and there was yet another incredible vista staring you in the face!
From Blauherd we headed off to do The Five Lakes hike. The first lake is called Stellisee and as we had such amazing weather we were lucky enough to the reflection of the Matterhorn in the stillness of the lake.
This walk heads through some open and wooded areas and any shade was greatly appreciated as the temperature got up to 30 degrees which we weren’t expecting. Because it’s the mountains you do have to prepare for changeable weather, but so far the beanie, scarf, woolly leggings, puffer jacket etc have all been superfluous (and heavy) baggage. The next three lakes were Grindjisee, Grunsee and Moosjisee and I will just post some photos.
Grundjesee and Moosjesee Lake, Five Lakes Walk, Zermatt
We never got to see Leisee as we headed down the Gourmetweg (Gourmet Way) in search of a chalet/ mountain hut/ refugio (incredible places to eat and drink) that we had found when researching the trip and decided that we would definitely like to eat at. It is called Chez Vroni. Here on this seemingly remote track is a gourmet restaurant with magnificent food and views of the Matterhorn to die for. We shared a Rosti with avocado and pickled cabbage (very fine and delicate) and had a ginger beer each, as there were many more kilometres to hike to get home.
It was really pumping here, packed to the rafters and everyone chilling, lying back in their extreme recliner chairs to soak up the sun and view the Matterhorn.
As you can see I really liked Chez Vroni
The walk home was said to be be 30 minutes from Chez Vroni, but we had watched a lot of YouTube videos prior to this trip and one of them suggested there was a way to go through the shaded forest rather than down the sun-exposed shorter route, so we opted for some shade. Two hours later we ended up on a ski run into Zermatt which was steep, made of loose shale and tested my quads to the extreme. I had a very slow ‘flashing of my life before my eyes’ as I inched my way down the steep slope, grasping my hiking sticks for grim death. My advice is ‘Do not try this!’
It doesn’t look much here but it was very steep to walk down
- Nothing can prepare you for the reality of this beauty of this area when the weather is like what we had.
- Global warming is very apparent in the Alps, when we have seen the glacial shrinkage in just four years at Gornergrat Lookout.
- The end of June is a great time to walk here. The crowds are minimal compared to August / September.
- Pack light when travelling – wear shorts/leggings and one puffer jacket, a light scarf and head band to keep the ears warm should it get cold, because when you are walking you get warm.
- Take a roll from breakky with some cheese on it and a piece of fruit, because it may be that the eating places (chalets and huts in Switzerland, refugios in Italy) you planned on eating at, have not opened yet in June.
- If they are open, definitely eat at them because they are an experinece not to be missed.
Keep your good bladder habits going your whole life because it helps you when you are walking in the Alps. Having said that – it is easy to squat behind a tree, shrub or rock if you need to go, so don’t let your pelvic floor issues restrict you from discovering the joy of walking in the Alps of Europe.
Let’s hope (for my own sake) I get to write up all the blogs from this trip before I return to work!