Zermatt: Waiting for the Matterhorn

FullSizeRender 2-min.jpgGui eagerly pulled back the curtain covering the window of our Matterhorn-view hotel room after our alarm went off early Saturday morning and saw… nothing. Well, not exactly nothing: We could see the town of Zermatt, complete with its adorable Swiss chalets, but the spot where the Matterhorn should be famously looming over the town was covered in clouds.

We decided to go about our day and hope for the best: We hiked along the trail the circles Zermatt, made friends with some black nose sheep, visited the graves of the mountaineers who died while climbing the nearby peaks, hiked to see the bright Alpine waters of Gorner Gorge, ate lunch at the excellent and affordable Brown Cow Pub, visited the local museum’s exhibition on the first ascent of the Matterhorn…. and yet by late afternoon there was still no sight of the Switzerland’s iconic peak. In fact, it had begun raining pretty hard, so we retreated to our balcony with hot tea and played board games until dinner time. Oh well, tomorrow will be better, we thought.

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Fast-forward to Sunday morning, when Gui pulled back the curtain covering the window of our Matterhorn-view hotel room and saw… yup, you guessed it, nothing. In fact, the visibility was even worse than the previous day, with a blanket of fog covering the entire valley. Well crap, we thought. We’re going to leave Zermatt without having seen the Matterhorn! We ate breakfast, checked out of the hotel, meandered around town, and — spotting some blue patches between the thick clouds — decided to chance it and go for our planned hike.

We used our SwissPass to get half off the price of the underground funicular and gondolas that would whisk us up to the 5-Seenweg (5-Lakes) trail and soon found ourselves traveling through the clouds. After arriving at the top, we took advantage at our last indoor-plumbing bathroom opportunity for the next several hours and then started walking toward the trail. That’s when we finally saw it — the tip of the Matterhorn, peering out of the clouds — more majestic than we even imagined.

The hike was incredible: several hours of moderate trekking with the Matterhorn almost completely visible by the end of our adventure. Because of the unideal weather, we found ourselves alone for large stretches of the hike, stopping to eat our packed lunch on a set of boulders for a half-hour without seeing any other humans. Our main companions were chubby marmots, foraging for food to fill themselves for winter and sunning themselves on the rocks.

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The lesson here? If you go to Zermatt, maybe it’s best to hope for crappy weather 🙂

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