Matterhorn Glacier Paradise


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Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, at altitude 12,740 ft (3,883 m) on the mountain Klein Matterhorn, is the highest viewing platform in Europe. Since 1978, a cable car has whisked visitors up to the summit from 9,642 ft (2,939 m ) Trockener Steg. Over half a million people ride to the top annually. Many are there to take in the spectacular views to the Matterhorn, 37 other 4,000m+ mountains and 14 glaciers, but also for climbing and year-round skiing.

On our second day in Zermatt, we took the cog railway to Gornergrat station. At altitude 10,135 ft (3,089 m ) Gornergrat is the highest open-air station in Europe and the railway, completed in 1898, is the second highest in Europe after the Jungfraubahn. The views from Gornergrat are spectacular, even without its clear view to the Matterhorn.

From Gornergrat, we hiked the 2-mile (3.1km) Sonnenweg trail down to Riffelberg, with the fabulous Matterhorn constantly in view. The day was calm and clear, producing the famous view of the Matterhorn reflected in the lake Riffelsee. From Riffelberg, we took the Riffelberg Express gondola down to Furi station, then boarded the Matterhorn Express to Trockener Steg for the cable car to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. A little-know upgrade to this trip is the Crystal Ride, pictured above, where the carriages have glass bottoms. The views are simply amazing. And the views from the top are even better, with the alps spreading out in all direction.

Below are highlights from July 3, 2022. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a map with our most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

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Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit with our breakfast using the paring knife we picked up in Murren and some dishes from the hotel room.
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Gornergrat Railway
On board the Gornergrat cog railway for the first run of the day at 8:00 am. Completed in 1898, the line was the first electric rack railway in Switzerland, is the highest open-air railway in the continent, and is the second highest railway in Europe after the Jungfraubahn.
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Gornergrat View
The view into Zermatt from the Gornergrat railway as we ascend towards Gornergrat, with the Matterhorn in the background.
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13.6 Degrees
The incline is a steep 13.6° as we approach the Findelbach station.
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Riffelberg
Looking down to Riffelberg station from the Gornergrat railway at altitude 8,164 ft (2,489 m). We’ll be taking the train all the way up to Gornergrat, then will walk down to Riffelberg and take the cable car back down to the valley.
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Finish Line
Riffelberg was the finish line for the Zermatt Marathon and Half-Marathon yesterday.
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Gornergrat
Gornergrat station, at altitude 10,135 ft (3,089 m ) is the highest open-air station in Europe. The building prominent is the Gornergrat Kulm Hotel and Observatory, completed in 1907. Inside left dome is the KOSMA radio telescope and the right dome contains Gornergrat Infrared Telescope.
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Train Departing
Our train departing Gornergrat station.
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Gornergletscher
The views from Gornergrat are spectacular. This is the Gornergletscher (Gorner Glacier), by area the second largest glacier system in the Alps after the Aletsch Glacier at Jungfrau. Partly visible at left is Dufourtsptize, the tallest mountain in Switzererland at 15,203-ft (4,634m).
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Monte Rosa Hut
The Monte Rosa Hut, at altitude 9,459 ft (2,883 m), is visible from Gornergrat on the other side of Gornergletscher. Owned by the Swiss Alpine club, the hut is the start of the normal route to summit the area mountains. The modern hut opened in 2009, replacing one that stood since 1895, and is a hi-tech, energy-wise structure that uses solar energy for 90% of its power needs. It sleeps 120 people and sees 8,000 guests a year.
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Sonnenweg
On the 2-mile (3.1km) Sonnenweg trail from Gornergrat down to Riffelberg, with the fabulous Matterhorn constantly in view.
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Breithorn
Spectacular Alps view from the Sonnenweg trail, with 13,661-ft (4,164m) Breithorn left of center and the Matterhorn at right. Directly below the Matterhorn is Riffelsee, a small lake famous for pictures of the Matterhorn reflected in its surface.
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Sheep
Distinctive Valais black-nosed sheep grazing near the Sonnenweg trail. The sheep, a source of both meat and wool, originated in the Valais area of Switzerland and were raised only here until the past decade when several interested breeders imported some to the UK.
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Riffelsee
The day was calm and clear, producing the famous view of the Matterhorn reflected in the Riffelsee.
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Boulder View
Jennifer taking in the view to the Matterhorn from atop a boulder just west of the Riffelsee.
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Marmots
Well-fed marmots on the hillside above Riffelberg.
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Nearing Riffelberg
Spectacular view across Riffelberg and the Matteral Valley to 13,848-ft (4,221 m) Zinalrothorn, left and 14,783-ft (4,506 m) Weisshorn. The mountain in the foreground, to the right of Weisshorn, is 11,174-ft (3,406m) Mettelhorn. The summit of Mettelhorn can be reached from Zermatt in a 10-mile, roughly 9-hour hike that passes by the hilltop Restaurant Edelweiss we could see from our hotel plus another restaurant en route. With over 250 miles (400km) of trails, this is just one of many dozens of hikes in the area.
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Riffelberg Express
Aboard the Riffelberg Express down to Furi station where we’ll then ride up to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
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Schweigmatte Flow
The Schweigmatte Flow trail, viewed from the Riffelberg Express, is one of many flow trails being built in Switzerland and world-wide. Flow trails are purpose-built mountain bike routes that are relatively easy to ride. They always have a smooth surface, with no rocks or tree routes, and are suitable for inexperienced mountain bikers and e-bikes or mountain bikes with little suspension, but also still exciting for experienced riders.
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Cable Reel
A huge reel of cable at the Furi station, where we will transfer to ride up to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
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Matterhorn Express
At altitude 6,706 ft (2,045 m) as we approach Schwarzsee on the Matterhorn Express, with Zermatt visible behind.
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Switching Lines
At Schwarzsee, we were expecting to get off and transfer to another gondola to reach Trockener Steg, but we didn’t have to. At Schwarzsee, the gondola detached from the line between Furi and Schwarzsee and re-attached to the next line. It was a pretty impressive design that we’d not seen before.
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Matterhorn Express View
A great view to the Matterhorn from the Matterhorn Express as we ascend from Schwarzsee.
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Furgg
From Schwarzsee at elevation 8,474 ft (2,583m) we are descending to Furg at elevation 7,979 ft (2,432m). There our gondola will transfer one more time, this time onto the line to Trockener Steg.
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Theodulgletscher
Passing close to the Theodulgletscher (Theodul Glacier) as we near the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise station atop Klein Matterhorn.
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Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
At altitude 12,740 ft (3,883 m) on the viewing platform atop Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, the highest mountain station in Europe. The Matterhorn is behind us on the left, with the summit hidden in the clouds.
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Breithorn West
View to the west side of 13,661-ft (4,164m) Breithorn from the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise viewing platform. We saw the east side earlier today while walking the Sonnenwag trail down from Gornergrat.
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Hikers
Hikers ascending Breithorn. This is one of the easiest peak in the Alps to summit, taking about 3:30 return from Klein Matterhorn. But the hike is across a glacier, so special equipment such as ice axes, crampons and ropes are needed, and inexperienced climbers should hire a guide.
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Gobba di Rollin
Chair lifts from Klein Matterhorn to 12,792 ft (3,899 m) Gobba di Rollin along the Swiss-Italian border. This is the highest ski lift in Europe.
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Zermatt Snow Park
The Klein Matterhorn is year-round ski area, and dozens of people were out on the slopes at Zermatt Snow Park.
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Klein Matterhorn
Looking back to the 12,740 ft (3,883 m) peak Klein Matterhorn and the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise station. The viewing platform we were on earlier is at upper right.
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Pisten Bully
A capable-looking Pisten Bully snow groomer 600 Polar W at Klein Matterhorn. The vehicle has autonomous steering, automatically adjusts the milling depth on hilly ground, and can operate on steep slopes via the winch arm at left.
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Restaurant
A drink with a view at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise restaurant, the highest restaurant in Europe. The Matterhorn, with the tip shrouded in clouds, is visible out the window.
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Descending from Klein Matterhorn
The view north across Theodulgletscher as we descend from Klein Matterhorn.
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Crystal Ride
Enjoying the fabulous views as we soar above the Theodulgletscher with the Matterhorn emerged from the clouds. We upgraded to the Crystal Ride for a glass-bottomed car. Few people seemed to know about the upgrade, and despite the crowds up top, we had the 24-person car all to ourselves.
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Trockener Steg
On the way back down, we spent some time at Trockener Steg. It’s mostly a winter locale, and is pretty quiet in the summer. And since we hadn’t gotten enough good Matterhorn views :-), we took some more pictures while we were there.
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Mountain Goat
One of several mountain goats around the base of the Trockener Steg station.
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Hublot
Large wall clock at Furgg station by Swiss luxury watch maker Hublot.
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To Furi
Descending to Furi from Schwarzsee on the Matterhorn Express with Zermatt visible in the distance.
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Aroleid
A late lunch on the terrace at Michelin Bib Gourmand-ranked Restaurant Aroleid in Furi. The restaurant is in a remodeled historic chalet. The roofs on many of the surrounding buildings, such as the one directly beyond James, are covered with handmade slate tiles.
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Furi Hangebrucke
The 328-ft (100-m) Furi Hangebrucke (suspension bridge) is strung 295 ft (90m) above the spectacular Gorner Gorge.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map. And a map of our most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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