Eyes to the skies

Enjoy Zermatt’s Alpine views without getting your shoes wet

Claude Hervé-Bazin
Emilie Chaix
Winter 2022-2023

In Zermatt, passionate skiers are constantly bombarded with exceptionally beautiful Alpine panoramas. But where can people who don’t ski go to enjoy spectacular views?

Zermatt is beautiful, nestled in its alcove valley, but the mountains can seem deformed when seen from within its cosy nest: an oversized base and summits that shoot into the ski. To see them properly, one needs to get on their level. Time to increase the altitude.

Why make things complicated? From the village centre, the Sunnegga underground funicular travels to 2,288 m in barely 5 minutes. It’s the resort’s most accessible mountain panorama and it never disappoints. The view shoots straight through the valley to a white mound outlined by a frieze of trees: the Matterhorn. If it still feels too far away, a gondola lift allows you to reach Blauherd (2,571 m), followed by another cable car that rounds off your journey in Rothorn (2,571 m). There, what seems like a whole other mountain awaits… It almost appears weightless. A wild, windy and unexplored world.

The red Gornergrat Railway

In front of the train station, the venerable Gornergrat Railway tackles the slopes as it does the weather. Inaugurated in 1893, it’s the oldest electric cogwheel railway in Europe and it’s become an icon. The ride is an unforgettable 33-minute railway cruise. After just 120 seconds, the first panorama bursts into view: the Matterhorn, on the starboard side. A few villainous larch trees attempt to obscure the view, but they end up giving way to the white summits in the stations of Riffelberg (2,582 m) – also accessible via cable car from Furi – then Rotenboden (2,815 m), a preferred launch point for sledders. Seen from here, the majestic Matterhorn seems larger than life. At dawn in winter, it’s brilliantly reflected in the mirrored waters of Riffelsee, just a 5-minute walk away. Finally, the path leads to the Kulmhotel (3,089 m), facing the striking ice flow of the Gorner Glacier. On your left, your eyes are drawn to Switzerland’s highest peak, Dufourspitze (4,634 m).

As close as possible to the Matterhorn

From there, after returning to Furi, you can take the Schwarzsee cable car (2,583 m). This route doesn’t boast flattering reflections of the Matterhorn, but the view is excellent, nonetheless. From here, the mountain pokes into the blue sky like a shark’s tooth. If you wish to gaze upon it longer and in leisure, look no further than the terrace of the Hotel Schwarzsee.

One of Zermatt’s greatest luxuries is its interconnected cable cars. The third step of this journey is the Trockener Steg cable car (2,939 m). You can also reach it from Furi, but why rush things? From here, expect 360° views. The Matterhorn, more tapered than ever, rises over the fascinating Furggen ridge. But why stop there? One last hop, skip and a jump and you can reach the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise at 3,883 m. Finally, you’ve reached the end of the road… until June that is, when the Alpine X Crossing will be ready.