Glacier Paradise in the Swiss Alps
A highlight of our Switzerland visit was a trip up to the Matterhorn. Just like most popular destinations, it takes a bit of effort and planning on the upside to make it happen. Here is a peek at what organizing a visit to the Matterhorn looks like along with a few photos of the rewards that await.
The launching point to the Matterhorn is the Town of Zermatt. As a tourist, there is only one way to get to Zermatt and that is by train. The town is located in the bottom of a narrow valley. With so many tourists and so little room for parking, they force you to park somewhere away from the town and take the train in. You can stay in Zermatt, but we chose a to stay about 50 km away and make our visit a day trip.
We got up early and drove to the Town of Tasch where we parked our car in a giant parkade and rode the train the last 5 km to Zermatt. We booked our spot in the parkade and bought train tickets months in advance, just to be sure.
Upon arriving in Zermatt, it is about a 2 km walk through town to arrive at the cable car station. Zermatt is a pretty alpine town and as cute as you can imagine.
Our view of the Matterhorn was obscured by clouds while we were in town which was our worst fear. It seemed that it would be a shame to go to all this effort only to see nothing but clouds. As we rode in our first cable car, we rose above the clouds. This was our first view of the mountain.
The ride to the top is on the Glacier Paradise cable car. There are three legs on the cable cars to get to the top. You can get off at each cable car transfer station for as long as you like on the way up, and down, to enjoy the spectacular views. The view looking back at Zermatt.
Riding the cable cars over the glaciers was just like flying.
The end point is the summit of Klein Matterhorn at 3,883 m (12,740 ft) above sea level, still 600 m lower than the Matterhorn peak. At that elevation the air is thin and cold, but the views are spectacular. The clouds all but disappeared and we took all kinds of clear photos.
It was a very memorable experience. Some experiences are priceless. This one, however, had a price and it was steep. We paid to park the vehicle, for return train tickets, $150 per person in Canadian dollars for the cable car fee, plus some hot chocolates at the top. We would do it all over again.