For this final walk we had travelled to Zermatt at the base of the Matterhorn and now a major ski resort. We were there in May, probably not the best time – quite a few places were closed as May is taken as a holiday month by some of the hotel/restaurant owners between the Winter and Summer seasons, and the whole place seemed to be a building site. It is billed as a “car free paradise” and indeed cars are not permitted, the locals getting around in electric golf-buggy like vehicles, but there were a huge number of diesel trucks and a helicopter feeding the building industry. Thankfully, this was all easy to escape by getting out of Zermatt proper.
We started the walk from Furi, having taken the cable car there from Zermatt (we had originally planned to walk from Trockener Steg, but there was still too much snow on the trails at this height – indeed there were still a few downhill skiers in the area). The walk (route 28 in the “Adventure in the Mountains” hiking guide) climbs the spur that ultimately leads to the base of the most popular route up the Matterhorn. Initially in a forested area, the trees soon disappear, providing stunning views in all directions including a particularly fine view of the Matterhorn. This section finishes at Schwarzsee Paradise – walk time is 1.5-2.0 hours with a 730m gain in elevation.
At this point you could get a cable car back down to Furi/Zermatt (we were again too early in the year and the system was not yet operating) but we chose to walk down via Stafelap (route 29 in the “Adventure in the Mountains” hiking guide). This proceeds north-westish, before curling around to the east and proceeding along a well formed track back into Furi. This section is about 7.5km / 2 hours or so.
Again, another A+ walk, and highly recommended.
Visit www.zermatt.ch for further information on this region
We got around on Switzerland’s excellent train system. If you’re visiting it’s worth checking out the various passes that the railways offer before you arrive as some can only be purchased outside the country. I purchased a half-price travelcard (around 100 Australian dollars) which gave 50% off every trip I made (including the regional railways and cable cars). See Swiss Railways information for international visitors.
The Adventure in the Mountains guide (pdf) can be found here – note: 16 meg