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Our Matterhorn Experience

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Our photo at the top with much cloud coverage

Photos of stunning Matterhorn, compliments of our friend Daniel who shared these with me:

One of my bucket list items was to visit the Matterhorn, a mountain in the Alps, straddling the border between Italy and Switzerland. I didn't realize that Stresa was only 136 km away, meaning a 2 1/2 hour excursion to get there. Matterhorn translates from German as Matte (meadow) and Horn (peak), which means roughly "the peak in the meadows".

To get to the Matterhorn isn't as easy as we thought, drive up and go up a tram to visit the mountain. Nope, there are two options of driving to the Matterhorn, one you physically drive the Simplon pass, which are windy roads up a steep rise or you take the Simplon Car Train from Iselle di Trasquera in Italy to Brig in Valais. This allows you to bypass the driving curves and steep terrain. It is a 20 minute train ride.

Here is a video of the track the Simplon Car Train takes when going through the Simplon Pass to get to Täsch:

Here are some amazing photos of our drive up to Täsch where we parked our car:

Once in Täsch, we had to purchase a shuttle ticket to get us to Zermatt, which is a car-free town that is the base station of getting up to the Matterhorn. Shuttle service departs every 20 minutes and is a very smooth ride into Zermatt.

Our trip to Zermatt on the shuttle:

Once in Zermatt, we quickly realized that it truly is a no-car zone. The only type of vehicles we saw were electric taxi, bicycles or work vehicles. It was really nice to be able to walk around without worrying about cars.

Zermatt, is a town in the district of Visp and German-speaking section of Valais, Switzerland. It sits at an elevation of 1,620 m (5,310 ft) and has a year-round population of 5,800. Zermatt is famous for skiing in the Swiss Alps and mountaineering, which can involve, mountain climbing, traversing mountains, bouldering, and hiking. Most of the local economy is reliant on tourism.

Here are some photos within the town of Zermatt we took:

Walking to the rear of the village you find Zermatt Old Town, known as Hinterdorf. The barns, stores, stables, and old homes were built between the 16th and 18th century. When I saw these, I thought how could wood withstand the elements of Zermatt. Well these structures were built with local larch, which is rich in resin and is really resistant to pests.

The roofs were built with heavy slabs of rock, which compress the wood and makes the construction more robust. The weather and sunshine has darkened the wood, to make it look black, and in turn has made it more effective in storing heat.

Here is a video that also has some photo's I took of the buildings:

From Zermatt we took the Gornergrat Matterhorn Railway to get up to the Gornergrat Railway Station which is 3,089 m (10,135 ft) above sea level. This makes the Gornergrat Railway the second highest railway in Europe. Only second to Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps. The single and double track line opened in 1898 and was the first electric rack railway built in Switzerland. A rack railway is also known as rack-and-pinion or cogwheel railway. The trains are fitted with one or more cog wheels that mesh with the rack rail which allows them to operate at steep grades of more than 10%. Here are some facts about the Gornergrat Matterhorn Railway:

  • Route length: 9,339 km totally by cog wheel (Abt system) / dual track 3,790 km

  • Steepest slope: 200 ‰ (on average 160 ‰)

  • Electrification: 725 volt three-phase current, electrical traction since opening on 20.08.1898

  • Speed Uphill: maximum 30 km/h

  • Speed Downhill: maximum 20-27 km/h

  • Since the opening in 1898, energy has been recovered on the downhill run by means of recuperation.

Here is an extensive video of our ride up on the Gornergrat Matterhorn Railway as well as the incredible stops along the way and the Gornergrat Railway Station:

Here are some photos of our ride up the Gornergrat:

What is special about this mountain is that it is a large near-symmetric pyramidal peak in the Mount Rose area of the Pennine Alps and has a summit of 4,478 meters or 14,672 feet high. This makes it the highest mountain in the European Alps. It is mainly composed of gneiss a type of metamorphic rock that was formed by high-temperature and high-pressure.

The first assent on the Matterhorn is recorded back to 1865, when a party of 7, led by Edward Whymper (an English mountaineer explorer) left from Zermatt but tragedy struck on the descent as four members of the party fell to their death. It is estimated that over 500 alpinists have died on the Matterhorn, making it one of the deadliest peaks in the world.

We witnessed first hand the changes in weather on the Matterhorn. When we bought our tickets to go up, the agent showed us a webcam of the current weather condition and it was blue with some clouds. As we took the train up, we saw the weather shift and get cloudier and by the time we got to the top it was snowing and zero degrees. With the wind, it was cold.

Here are photo's at the top of Gornergrat Station:

We chilled out for lunch at Gornergrat Panoramaself Restaurant. I had chicken nuggets and fries (balsamic vinegar) and Gianni had something crazy.....Pasta with breadcrumbs and applesauce. Of course we had beer too. This meal was 65 Euros ($100).

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