Matterhorn ski paradise

The essence of skiing

Zina de Beucherval
Marco Schynder
Winter 2022-2023

There are two ways of approaching life. One is by skiing. The other is by skiing in Zermatt. The resort’s lowest point is at 1,620 m. The highest is at 3,899 m, on the Gobba di Rollin ski lift. Europe’s highest.

To begin, you have the village itself: authentic and serene, with its beautiful infrastructure and a complete absence of cars. There’s the iconic Matterhorn, which reigns over this corner of the valley and all of its accompanying cable cars. This is the highest concentration of Alpine summits, with no fewer than 38 peaks at 4,000 m+ on the horizon.
Then there’s the Matterhorn Ski Paradise domain: 360 km of slopes that stretch from Switzerland to Italy, 200 km of which are on the Swiss side, on glaciers or mostly (75%) serviced by snowmaking equipment in case of unfavourable weather. It’s difficult to cover everything in a day, so you’ll have to choose. You could tackle the Rothorn or Gornergrat sectors, the iconic Matterhorn Glacier Paradise which leads to the Theodul Glacier, or you could dip over to the vast web of southern, sunny Italian slopes (160 km) near Breuil-Cervinia and Valtournenche. In total, there’s nearly 150 hectares of packed snow, spread over runs that are 21% blue, 61% red, and 18% black. Don’t forget about Wolli’s Adventure Park (with magic carpets) for children, located in Sunnegga.
There’s also the way you get around. Zermatt embodies modern and high-quality infrastructure (one rarely waits in line). Take for example, the Matterhorn-Express, which was recently modernized, or the lift that links Trockener Steg (2,939 m) to Klein Matterhorn (3,883 m). It’s as fast as it is spectacularly panoramic- and is also remarkably stable considering it only has three supporting pylons! But even if technology reigns in Zermatt, tradition is never forgotten. Just think of the beautiful ascent to Gornergrat (3,089 m) on the little, red cogwheel train that was inaugurated in 1898. It was upgraded this year with new, quieter, and more comfortable wagons, and the ride is 33 minutes of pure joy, with the Matterhorn in view the whole way. How typically Swiss.
There are also the slopes that make Zermatt legendary, like the run connecting Klein Matterhorn to the centre of Zermatt: 25 km of non-stop skiing over 2,263 m of altitude change! Along the way, enjoy captivating views of the Matterhorn, notably from the Sandiger Boden run (#63) and the Matterhorn run (#69), which is even closer to the iconic mountain. And if, by chance, there wasn’t enough snow in autumn to inaugurate the new, World-Cup-Champion-certified, cross-border Gran Becca run, you can be absolutely certain there will be enough snow in the winter! Head from Gobba di Rolin (3,899 m) to Laghi Cime Bianche for 1,000 meters of altitude change. A quick cable car ride allows you to continue another 20 km towards the white queen, until Valtournenche. For highly skilled skiers, there’s the Nera del Cervino run (#59), aka “The Wall,” on the mountain’s south face, which boasts extremely steep and demanding gradients, up to 65%! For a more accessible good time, why not consider a Fast Track descent? The pass gets you on the slopes before they officially open to the public, and there’s truly nothing like having the slopes all to yourself first thing in the morning… It’s exhilarating!