Ski 2.0

beneath the Matterhorn

Text Laurent Grabet
Date of publication Winter 2019-2020

The Matterhorn ski paradise is Europe’s highest skiable area, with some sections reaching altitudes up to 3,899 m. The area is also a favourite among winter sport enthusiasts and earned Zermatt the title of “Best Ski Resort” for the third time. Here’s why.

It is not by chance that Zermatt has been named the “Best Ski Resort” in the world by Snow-Online, placing above its Alpine counterparts for the third time following a detailed survey of some 50,000 skiers. In Zermatt, one can feel that things are different from the offset. Here one reaches the slopes by train as cars are forbidden in the station, an important detail in our increasingly ecologically-conscious world. Despite the lack of automobiles, it is incredible easy to access the slopes: four different transportation options are available from the village centre (train, funicular, gondola, or cable car), connecting skiers directly to different areas of this incredible mountain kingdom.

Touch the Sky
In Zermatt, skiers evolve in unison with the high mountain terrain. The local ski area is the highest in Europe and it’s at least partially accessible 365 days a year, which draws many national teams to its slopes for preparation before the season opens. The Matterhorn ski area stretches from Rothorn (3,103 m) to Schwarzsee (2,583 m), via Gornergrat (3,089 m) and the Matterhorn ski paradise (3,883 m), which is also known as Klein Matterhorn and which has a newly-inaugurated T3 cable car system available as of last year. Despite what one may think, the highest point of the ski area is not located at the first arrival station, but is actually near the Italian border at the top of the modest Gobba di Rollin ski lift (3,899 m). From there, the descent into Zermatt covers an astounding 2,279 m drop in altitude, a delight for experienced skiers (and a fear-inducing adventure for the less experienced). As an added bonus, there’s sunshine at these high altitudes at least 300 days a year on average.

The Matterhorn Difference
The skiable area, which includes 360 km of slopes, is unique for yet another geographical reason: it stretches over two different countries. From the Aosta Valley in Italy, one can easily reach Breuil-Cervinia and Valtournenche via the Testa Grigia (3,480 m) plateau, or by taking the Theodul Pass (3,301 m). Zermatt’s 84 ski lifts are ultra-modern, and there are about 20 transalpine others that are almost at the same level. Just one difference sets them apart: the Swiss side can easily claim to have the best views of the Matterhorn. That view makes all the difference for skiers, not to mention that 38 of the 82 alpine summits over 4,000 m complete the panorama. There they are, no matter which direction you look, perfectly draped in white.

Ski Station 2.0
Those who rely on internet connection will be delighted to learn that Zermatt has free Wi-Fi on all of its slopes. A perfect setup for anyone looking to live stream their ski experience on social media. The station has made great efforts to ensure it can offer a solid 2.0 experience for all of its guests. These efforts include easy-to-access electronic resources for ski pass holders, who can look up real time weather updates, slope conditions, and lift opening times using the dedicated mobile app. And for anyone who loves statistics (we’re looking at you, sports lovers), the Skiline application tracks a variety of personal data like covered distance and altitude.