Wesley's Story, Photos: Zermatt
Day 1: January 16
Snow much better here than Grindelwald. Weather, too. Skied over 20,000 vertical feet in just five runs. Can't do that at MRG. One's sense of scale is all discombombulated. Found plenty of packed powder and even some week old untracked. Not much, but enough. kewl.
First run: From the Gonergrat Hotel, we walked for all of two minutes to the Gonergratbahnhof and rode the Gonergratbahn to Gonergrat. Skied the Kelle piste to Balmbrunnen to Riffelalp (2883' vertical).
Waited for the next train to Gornergrat, and this time we took the Kelle to Grünsee via Börter and Findeln (3461'). The Börter is a little used yellow trail -- yellow designating unpisted and natural, like Killington's Wild Things. Or Mad River. We liked it.
We found lifts up to Rothorn via Sunnegga and Blauherd. Skied down the red Rotweng piste to Sunnegga for lunch (2673' vertical), where we gazed like school kids at the Matterhorn for what seemed like hours. After lunch, we continued on down the Standard B to Unternational FIS to Standard C and the village (2191'), and then boarded the Sunnegga Alpen-metro, a fast underground subway back up the mountains.
We kept right on going up, up, up to the Rothorn, where we discovered the delightful Downhill Fun Park to the Kumme B piste to Arbzug to Tuftern to Standard to the village (4865' vertical). This run just went on for days through beautiful packed powder, some bumps, rock, trees -- everything you'd want in a ski trail.
But not enough for me. Vickie went in, I hightailed it back up to Blauherd for a non-stop ten minute 3120' descent straight on down National. Fun and fast!
Day 2: January 17
We planned to ski over to Cervenia, but weather moved in and the visibility on top of the Kleine Matterhorn was close to nil. So we stayed on the Zermatt side and played around. Found a little bit of old powder here and there.
Rode up to Gornergrat, skied down to Furi (4022'). All the way up the Kleine Matterhorn, but the weather had moved in, so we darted back on down to Furgg (4554). Decided to try Schwarzee down to Stafelalp for a huge lunch. We saw no one on this 1292' descent around the farthest, most remote edge of the resort. We did see many short powder patches through the trees: freshies! But when we got to Stafelalp, the restaurant was packed to the gills. We had to squiggle into a corner past a table of drunken French, who were later replaced by a loud group of soon to be drunken Brits.
After lunch we continued on down to Furi (1099'), then back up to Schwarzee for a final run back into town (3159').
Day 3: January 18
Yesterdays cloud gave way to sun today, and a couple of inches of fresh powder most everywhere.
Rode the train to Gornergrat, cable car to Hohtälli. Skied White Hare to Gant (3487'). We were the first people down that day, so we had fresh tracks in about 3" of new snow on top of an impeccably groomed packed powder surface. This was so much fun, we had to do it again. This time, it was White Hare to Balmbrunnen to Rifelalp (3526) and a train back up to Rotenboden.
From Gornergrat we descended past the Riffelalp station to lunch at the restaurant Riffelalp, then back on down to the village along a lovely winding forest trail (3920').
We climbed aboard the Trockener Steg cable car and rode on up to a long, long, long (2.6 Km) tee-bar to the Furgsattel. This is where yesterday's snow had been the heaviest, so I had great hopes. They were satisfied in full with a foot of lightly tracked and some still untracked powder. What a shame, I had to ski it (1387'). Twice. Vickie, too. Plus lots of other powder in other places just off piste that seemed to be overlooked by most of the tourists here. Too bad.
After the second Furgsattel run, we continued on down to Furgg (3061'). Vickie was beat, so she got on a cable car for home. I needed more. Rode up the Garten drag lift for a short experiment on the Gartenbuckle piste. Snow not as good as it looked. So I found my way onto the last Kleine Matterhorn cable car of the day at 4 PM, and ended the day with 7217 ft vertical, 9 mile long non stop run from Kleine Matterhorn to the village. Zowie! Thirty five minutes on skis without stopping. Only in Europe.
Weird things we saw:
A St Bernard with a whisky thing around the neck. OK, so it was a tourist trap photo opportunity, like those folks you see on top of Stowe, but still...
A dogsled team. Saw them again today, mushing out in the middle of nowhere under the Matterhorn.
A herd of sheep running into their barn.
A packed to the gills restaurant off of a deserted piste way off in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the resort.
Day 4: January 19
Today was the last day in Zermatt. Mostly an easy day, but a fun one. Convinced Vickie to give the Kleine Matterhorn another try. Today, the weather was near perfect for it. We still didn't want to ski into Italy, lest we get trapped there and miss our plane tomorrow. The views were stunning.
We went back to the Furgsattel and skied two runs there. Why? How about 500 foot of vertical knee deep powder. We still can't figure out why it was there, still mostly untracked, two days after the last snow. These Europeans are wacky. A shot like that wouldn't last two hours at Mad River.
Also did one true black diamond trail. It was ugly. Reminded me of those times when your friends drag you down Fall Line at Mad River, and you know it's going to be ugly, but you do it anyway. Yuck.
Last modified June 26 2001 04:34 PM