6th March 2008 – Day 1 – Zermatt
I’ve landed in Switzerland and unfortunately I’m three months too early to see Italy in the European Championships. So instead, I jump on train from Genève to Täsch.
The journey itself is easy and picturesque, in particular as the train works its way around Lake Genève. I can imagine that in summer, still with the snow-covered Alps in the distance, but with a greener landscape, it must be beautiful.
Täsch is the stopping point for vehicles before the ski resort of Zermatt. It’s not very exciting and the nightlife is hardly famous. In fact, the most exciting thing about the village is the cross high on the mountain, which is lit up at night. It’s an early night before my first day of skiing in nearly two years.
7th March 2008 – Day 2 – Zermatt
The train to Zermatt is quick and runs every 20 minutes. Despite my first view of the Matterhorn (I’ll call it Matterhorn, instead of Cervino since I’m on this side of the border), Zermatt doesn’t impress me at first sight. There is construction everywhere, which in itself is infuriating since the buildings are practically on top of each other already.
Nonetheless, it’s an absolute joy to actually take another train (with heating!) to 3089m and then jump off and start skiing straight away! The weather is pretty poor today and the clouds refuse to shift, but it’s fantastic to be back in the Alps.
8th March 2008 – Day 3 – Zermatt
The weather is better today, although it’s still not the clear blue sky that welcomed me on Thursday. However, the clouds don’t budge from around 2500m and it allows some great views across the mountain peaks. As the ski-lifts emerge from the clouds and the sun hits you like a burning furnace, it’s like everything below the clouds doesn’t exist anymore.
Although it’s wonderful for the train to take you from Zermatt directly to the ski-slopes, it’s bizarre that the actual ski region is seemingly so far from the resort itself. The geography of the area is such that it’s not easy to get from one ski zone to another. Worse still, is that you can’t actually ski down to the resort. It means you either have to time your runs in order to catch a train back, or you have a 2km walk home with skis on your back.
On closer inspection, Zermatt has got some stereotypical Swiss buildings. However, it’s so densely built up that it loses its attraction. I think it says everything when I realise I don’t have a single photo of the town itself.
9th March 2008 – Day 4 – Zermatt
Now that’s what skiing is all about! Today was by far the best day, with excellent weather, great skiing and by far the best mountain views I’ve ever seen in my life. I expected to see so many glorious views in Zermatt, but today surpassed anything I could have hoped for.
I’ve broken a few ‘firsts’; skiing at over 3800m, skiing on a glacier and standing at the peak of the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise at 3883m. As one person near me said, it’s like standing on top of the world. I can’t even imagine how they constructed this platform, as taking the lift through the clouds and hundreds of metres above the piercing glaciers was nerve-wrecking enough!
It’s an amazing ski down the mountain, with the Matterhorn at my side and the huge, open pistes covered in fantastic powder-covered snow. I take it all in, as tomorrow is another four hour train back to Genève for my flight home.