Up the Gornergrat

The first time I came to Zermatt was when I was about 16 with my parents and two brothers.  In those days taking the 45 minute ride up the Gornergrat rack railway was just far too expensive.  So the only time I had been up before was about 7 years ago, and that was in the summer.

Everywhere you go the Matterhorn dominates the skyline.  You can never forget it is there.  As the train pulled out of the station there it was, towering over the village.

The track is narrow gauge and rack assisted.  Gradients are often pretty steep.  In the photo below the incline is real!

The track winds through the trees, through tunnels, and then out on to the snow fields.  In the photo below, the black line from right to left is avalanche sheds and shows the route of the railway.  The icy bits between the markers are pistes, forking near the centre of the pic.

This is, of course, a skiers paradise.  There are runs everywhere, and cable cars and chair lifts everywhere.  And over it all, the Matterhorn is always there.

The Gornergrat itself is a peak of a ridge.  The station is about 50 feet below the top, with the hotel etc on the very top.

Views are magnificent: you can see 29 peaks over 3,000 m (about 12,500 feet) from the top, and look down on the Gornergrat glacier:

The train had been full going up, but was almost empty going down.  At one point I took some pix looking across Zermatt and the Vispa valley and when I got back to the hotel I realised I had the whole of the avalanche track in one photo.  I have added arrows to show the top and bottom.  What the photo doesn’t show is that the lowest debris was only about 100 m from houses:

After all that fresh air I needed a hot chocolate!!  I snapped Fuchs from the train:

So I had to go in.  The lunch rush was over, and I was able to sit outside in the sun and watch the trains and the mountains.  Oh, and have a raspberry tart with my hot chocolate….


6 thoughts on “Up the Gornergrat

  1. Hi Elizabeth,

    You don’t know me, I found your blog from research on Ravelry when I was looking to find yarn from North Rolandsay.

    I have my yarn now, from Jane, from the mill there. And I love it.
    So when your pictures came through I was happy to see things through your eyes I’d never seen.

    My late husband was a lot older than I, and he went skiing in Zermatt many different times before I knew him. This was way back–he had quit skiing when I met him. I’d say the last time he was there would have been in the early to mid 60’s.

    He was with a Swiss guide once who took him and a pal over the foot hills of the Matterhorn into Italy. They had these things called ‘skins’ on their skis–to give them traction climbing on icy places, and they worked their way around and had a fabulous ski down to some village where their wives and friends met them and had a celebration. He loved to tell that story.

    You take wonderful photographs. They are composed so beautifully.
    I am happy you are having a good time and remembering being there before.
    That mountain is spellbinding.

    Thank you for showing it to me.
    PS. My yarn is glorious–I was searching your patterns to see what to make.
    Thanks, Betsy

    1. Hi Betsy – what a lovely story from your husband! I first came here in the mid 60s – I was trying to remember, but I think it was 1963. In those days the mountain railways, lifts etc were very expensive – MUCH more than today… I seem to remember that the Gornergrat was about £40 return then, and now it is about £28 (in both cases with the half fare card). So in real terms it is much, MUCH cheaper!

      And glad you like the North Ronaldsay wool. It is lovely stuff…!


  2. Hi Liz
    Can you get me some Yetti fleece please.
    Enjoy your hol, we miss you come back refreshed and with the yetti fleece!
    love cathy and steve x

    1. I’ll see what I can do about the fleece. Trouble is, I’m told they shear in May, so I am a bit early. But if I get some, you can have some!!
      There are some Highland cattle further down the valley – I thought I saw them when I arrived, so looked very hard when I passed yesterday, and they definitely are Highlands. All the other cattle are inside, but the Highlands are out.

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