Zermatt Ski Review:
Zermatt's Matterhorn is the iconic pinnacle of the Alps, the
14,692' peak beckons skiers to this popular ski village reached only by train.
Zermatt offers unrivaled scenery, romantic Swiss chalets, and the highest
elevation skiing with the longest snow season in the Alps - including year round
skiing on the glacier. Zermatt is on everyone's list as one of
the best places to ski in Europe. In
addition to phenomenal scenery and skiing, there are over 50 traditional on-mountain chalets serving lunch. Zermatt village is more of a small city -
offering upscale lodging - five star ski hotels, dining, shopping, and a lively après ski bar scene.
Zermatt Skiing, marketed as "Matterhorn Paradise," is always in
the shadows of the famous Matterhorn - but that craggy steep peak is reserved
for reverent hikers. Zermatt skiing is vast with over 360 kilometers of marked
pistes in four ski regions, Sunnegga/Rothorn, Gornergrat, Matterhorn Glacier
Paradise (previously known as Klein Matterhorn), and Matterhorn Cervinia (Italy)
all interconnected with amazing lifts - trains, trams, funiculars, gondolas and
chairs. The ski slopes of Zermatt are long, our average vertical was 4,000’ per
run! Zermatt has a base elevation 5,314' and a summit of 12,791.'
Zermatt's Sunnegga/Rothorn ski region is the sunny side,
accessed via funicular, followed by a chondola to Blauherd then a cable car to
the spectacular Rothorn at 10,180.' The Rothorn summit offers a variety of
cruising trails and steep yellow (non prepared) all natural terrain. The Findeln
area on your ski down has delightful chalets for lunch including the Adler Hitta.
Zermatt's Gornergrat ski region is reached by the Gornergrat
railway - the longest highest train in the Alps for skiers, hit this first thing
in the morning for the half hour ride up to the 10,134' peak (or stay at the
incredible Kulmhotel at the summit with its own observatory for stargazing -
pretty high hotel). Great prepared pistes lead you to the Rifflberg ski
terrain and the Iglu Dorf village where you can spend the night "chilling" in
your igloo. The huge Gant tram takes you to the Stockhorn T-Bar where you can
find untouched off-piste powder and exciting all natural terrain.
The Matterhorn Paradise region, the southern end of Zermatt, is
reached by a beautiful four section Schwarzsee gondola, from here you can
continue on to the Klein Matterhorn - on the highest cable car in the world that
enters this steep peak via a tunnel at 12,791.' From atop the Klein Matterhorn,
you can ski an 8 mile run into Zermatt village, for an amazing 7,477' vertical.
A new six-passenger lift is added to Schwartzee's north face terrain for 2016
From the Klein Matterhorn, stay left across the Mont Rosa Plateau to enter
Cervinia Italy - no passport required, but it is suggested to
do this on a clear non-windy day as the terrain is vast and you don't want to
get stuck in Italy. Cervinia offers fantastic trail skiing that's gentler and
more wide open terrain, and excellent Italian mountain restaurants for lunch
like Chalet Etoile. Cervinia's base area offers none of the charm of Zermatt,
just a large condo complex. Zermatt and Cervinia both have limitless off piste
ski opportunities, hire a ski guide
to do this safely.
The village of Zermatt has grown from a quaint Swiss village to
a mountain metro (there is even a McDonalds) hosting over 2 million overnight
stays a year. Visitors and residents are primarily Swiss, with Germans, Italian,
and Japanese next. Everyone speaks German Swiss and most know English, but signs
are quadri - lingual - German, French, Italian and English.
Arrive in Zermatt by Train (which run with Swiss precision)
from Geneva or Zurich airports.
Zermatt has no cars, just electric shuttles and buses throughout the town full
of beautiful chalets, shops, restaurants and rather chic hotels. Along with
pride in their ski terrain, Zermatt après ski is a big tradition, starting at
lunch and going well into the night. Skiers may still be dancing in their ski
boots at dark at one of five Post Hotel bars.
Lodging in Zermatt is plentiful, Zermatt has over 120 fine ski
hotels (18,000 beds when you include private chalets and apartments), all
walking distance to the ski lifts, shops, après ski bars and Zermatt's best
We stayed at
The Hotel Alex in Zermatt - a four star ski hotel with ornate Swiss décor, conveniently
located a block from the train station and the Gornergrat ski train.
Other top Zermatt hotels worth mentioning include the historic Hotel Monte Rosa,
Mont Cervin Palace, Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, or the unique Riffelalp Resort
high above town reached by Gornnergrat train. The Suitenhotel Zurbriggen Zermatt is a minimalist style
hotel and spa, owned by famed Swiss ski racer Pirmin Zurbriggen. Another top new hotel
is the Cervo, deer in Italian, this very chic chalet at the base of the Sunnegga
slopes features modern alpine décor with a view overlooking town and a
convenient elevator down to the Zermatt village. Arrive here for après ski on
the great sun terrace at the end of your ski day. Their cheeseburgers and
truffle fries sprinkled with parmesan are a perfect après ski decadence.
The Matterhorn of Zermatt remains the focal point at every turn
as you ski Zermatt – the most photographed mountain in the world. The first hiker to summit was
Edward Whymper in 1865. Today you must have a guide to hike the Matterhorn, at the cost of
$2,000+ Swiss francs, with no guarantees. Over 450 hikers have died on their
attempt - The Matterhorn graveyard is an attraction and testament. Instead of
hiking, we prefer the swift lift service to the beautiful snowy sunny ski trails