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Going for a walk around Zermatt - Lines II, IV and VI

Going for a walk around Zermatt - Lines II, IV and VI - Map

Phespirit completed six walks around Zermatt, including these three to the south of the village.

  1. Schwarzsee - Stafelalp - Zum See - Blatten - Zermatt   [approx. 9-10km]

    Prior to this walk, Phespirit boarded a cable car from Zermatt to Furi, another cable car from Furi to Trockener Steg, and a gondola from Trockener Steg to Klein Matterhorn (3883m). Here he had an unobstructed panorama of peaks for miles around. Returning to Furi by the same means, he then took an alternative cable car up to Schwarzsee (2552m). After a brief orientation at the Hotel Schwarzsee, he strolled down to the small-but-deep green Schwarzsee lake [1]. Tiny fishes flick around its shores; at one end stands the little Chapel of the Holy Mary of the Snow. A wide dirt road leads downhill from here towards Stafelalp. After twenty minutes, a smaller path branches off to the right next to a red bench. This runs all the way to Stafelalp (2199m) [2], where Phespirit stopped at the restaurant for an omelette natur with chocolate cake and cream to follow. It is a beautiful place to eat outdoors, below the Matterhorn's north face. Back on the trail - around the restaurant and downhill for half an hour - there is a left turn into Z'mutt: a pretty cluster of timber houses set in a trim meadow, with a sheer rock face rising behind and another falling away in front. Phespirit ignored this though, preferring instead to go straight on for an hour, through Zum See (1766m) [3] and Blatten (1738m) [4], down to Zermatt (1620m).

  2. Gornergrat - Grünsee - Riffelalp - Moos - Zermatt   [approx. 13-14km]

    Starting out on the mountain railway from Zermatt to Gornergrat - sit on the right for best views - Phespirit first got out at Rotenboden to admire a perfectly still reflection of the Matterhorn on Riffelsee lake (2757m) [1]. Then back on the train to the end of the line at Gornergrat (3135m) for good views of Oberrothorn (north) and Monte Rosa (south). The walking trail from Gornergrat [2] to Grünsee starts out on the left of the railway line before passing beneath it and down between two small ponds. It continues on through an almost Martian landscape of pink boulders, to a grassy plateau, and then a depression, after which the main descent begins with a series of tight switchbacks. These are steep but never dangerous. Level ground follows, then some large flat rocks over burbling rivulets, then a wide path along the crest of a ridge, then a final series of switchbacks down to Grünsee (2300m). Total time: one and a half hours, plus breaks. From Grünsee [3], Phespirit headed west to Riffelalp. The first part of this walk traverses what is arguably the most beautiful countryside in the valley, filled with dark green pines, paler mosses and autumnal red bilberry leaves. Where the path splits, Phespirit took the high road up to Riffelalp rather than the low road to Riffelalp Station. This option crosses the railway line and, after ten minutes, passes between the 'Goldfrapp Trees' [4]. The unexpectedly large Riffelalp Resort complex (2222m) is another ten minutes' walk away. Total time from Grünsee: sixty minutes, plus breaks. Walking from Riffelalp Resort [5] down to the centre of Zermatt (1620m) takes another hour, via a footpath (turning right at Ritti) that joins a tarmac road near Moos [6]. Overall, a diverse and pleasing walk on a testing terrain of abundant beauty.

  3. Riffelberg - Gornergletscher - Gletschergarten - Gornerschlucht - Zermatt   [approx. 9-10km]

    For his final walk around Zermatt, Phespirit started out once more on the Gornergrat mountain railway, but this time got off at Riffelberg station (2582m) [1]. From here, a footpath passes the Hotel Riffelberg and a small modern chapel on its way towards Gornergletscher - the Gorner Glacier. After twenty minutes walking through some ruggedly beautiful terrain, the dusty trail drops downhill and hugs the line of the glacier. Forty minutes further on - it's a non-stop panorama of fine mountain scenery - a signpost offers the choice of either a left or right turn down to the glacier valley / garden. Phespirit chose the left turn and ended up on a staggeringly steep descending series of switchbacks which must be the hiking trail equivalent of a black ski run. It took over twenty minutes to reach the bottom of the valley, arriving at a magnificent spot next to the turbulent glacier river [2], thus vindicating his choice of route. Stones rounded by the action of flowing water seemed suspiciously high up around the sides of the valley; its floor is strewn with smooth rocks and boulders, plus a fine grey sand that infuses the churning, milky torrent (2050m). From the river, Phespirit hiked up to Gletschergarten [3] - the 'Glacier Garden' - a collection of smooth potholes eroded into the rock face by glacier action (1955m). Wooden bridges provide a variety of viewing points; there is a small picnic area adjacent. Back on the path, after twenty more minutes it reaches a tarmac road, with Furi off to the left. Phespirit went the opposite way, heading right for a short distance before taking an unsigned trail to the left, arriving twenty minutes later at the Gornerschlucht - the Gorner Gorge (1700m) [4]. It cost Phespirit 4CHF to try out the precarious-looking walkways around the rockfaces here. Finally to Zermatt (1620m).

DISCLAIMER: It is strongly recommended that visitors take a good local map when setting out on these walks; Phespirit accepts no responsibility if the use of this web page results in visitors becoming lost, injured, maimed, killed or assailed by marmots.

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