The Matterhorn

On Monday morning Jacob and I woke up with a mission. We were going to see the Matterhorn, come hell or high water.

As it happens, the Matterhorn was about as far away as it could possibly be while still being in Switzerland. We started early and had taken 3 different trains before we got into the mountains.

My friends, if you have never been to the Alps before, I highly recommend you add it to your bucket list. It's impossible to describe the wonder of this landscape; it is sublime, fantastic, and endlessly nuanced.

Thankfully the good people of Switzerland realize this, so they build whole train cars with huge panoramic windows like this one:

Our train worked it's way up the mountains slowly, a fact for which we were very grateful. This is not the sort of journey you want to take quickly - you want to inch along with your nose pressed against the window glass, preferably while listening to some really grandiose music.

This is what you will see.

Around noon we arrived into Zermatt, the ski town that sits in a valley at the base of the Matterhorn. Seeing the Matterhorn is always a risk. The famous peak is so high that often the summit is covered in clouds for days on end. However we were incredibly blessed by warm, sunny weather and perfect visibility.

I bet you that Zermatt looks exactly how you imagine it. It is a perfect Alpine ski town, dotted with wooden A-frame chalets, snow-capped pine trees, and a mountain stream.

We wandered the streets of Zermatt watching as groups of skiers prepared to head up the slopes, or disappeared into restaurants for an Apres-Ski cheese fondue. We planned our dream Swiss ski holiday, all the while asking ourselves, "do these people realize how good they have it?". Then we stopped and asked ourselves, "do WE realize how good we have it?".

We couldn't believe we were actually there, in the midst of the mesmerizing beauty of the Alps. It's the sort of place where you can spend hours staring dumbfounded with your mouth hanging open. I don't know how the skiers manage to avoid running into each other when they are surrounded by such distracting scenery.

Jacob and I took a tram up to a ski lodge that provided glorious views of the Matterhorn. From there we were planning to take a "winter hiking" trail that would take us back down to Zermatt.

After spending a while with the view we started on our hike down the mountain. We had a problem though: we couldn't find the trail. There was a sign for the hike, but it pointed straight down a ski slope. Having no other place to go, we started tromping down the side of the slope, trying to stay out of the way of passing skiers. Thankfully the trail soon broke off from the ski slope, turning into a plowed trail that switch-backed down the mountain.

The trail took us past views so beautiful that we were almost giddy with laughter. At one point Jacob found a piece of wrapped Babybel cheese on the ground. He ate it.

We made it down the mountain after about 2 hours of hiking, just as the sun was setting behind the mountains and the clouds began to gather. We reluctantly boarded the return train home. But as it turns out, just two days later we would be going to see another famous Swiss Alpine peak - the Jungfrau.

More mountain posts to come!