The second part of last summer’s trip to the Alps was concentrated on four of the party climbing the Matterhorn.This was the reason we had even had the trips to the Alps. We were also supposed to climb Weissmies as my first 4000m peak but we had done Mont Blanc du Tacul two days previously and I was still mentally and physically recovering from that, plus the weather had increased avalanche risk so we decided to give that a miss.
When we were hiking through the Berard Valley on our way up Mont Buet the scenery was ‘perfect-alpine-valley’ and all the images of Switzerland we had seen beforehand pointed to Switzerland being a million times more ‘perfect-alpine-valley’ than the Berard Valley.
But it wasn’t.
Switzerland wasn’t the most enjoyable part of the trip for me. I was riddled with Matterhorn Anxiety from the moment we pitched our tents at Saas-Fee on a cold, damp evening after a really long drive from Chamonix. Chamonix felt a million miles away.
The first day in Saas Fee we went on a hike on the Felskinn to Plattjen trail. Despite the maximum height being at 3017m I felt as though I had never even acclimatised to altitude in during the week in Chamonix. I felt like I was lagging behind in the group and I couldn’t seem to keep up. That, and Matterhorn Anxiety which was looming over me made it quite a difficult hike. The magnificent views of the surrounding peaks were never seen due to walking in cloud, which combined with the grey moraines and rocky paths, it made it feel like Mordor rather than the Alps. I missed Chamonix.
We took a cable car up to Hohsaas the next day and for a small walk and to see the 18 four-thousand metre peaks you can see from up there. Once again, the Swiss clouds stopped us from seeing anything apart from Weissmies…
My memories from Saas-Fee are of rain, ski-scarred mountains, lack of visibility and Matterhorn Anxiety. Yet when the sun came out it was actually a beautiful little hidden Swiss Valley.
We moved onto Randa in the Matter Valley the day that we would wave off the Matterhorn climbers in Zermatt. The Matterhorn Anxiety was at a new level and after the emotional send off me and my fellow novice stood in Zermatt and decided the best thing to do was to find a pub.
Zermatt is expensive. It cost 16CHF for each train ride into Zermatt from Tasch and we had to do that three times since most things to do are in Zermatt or start from Zermatt. So, if ever you find yourself skint in Zermatt and need somewhere to eat then I recommend The Brown Cow. The Cheeseburger is the best I’ve ever eaten and the service is very friendly. And you won’t need a loan to afford a drink.
Now, this post seems very anti-Switzerland but the last day was the most rewarding when it comes to Swiss scenery. The day after BG got back from the Matterhorn we took the train back to Zermatt (paid a small fortune for the ticket to get us to Sunnega) we did the famous 5 Lakes Walk.
These were the pure Swiss-Alpine views we had expected. The sun had finally come out in Switzerland and it was hot. The 10km walk takes you around five lakes in which the stunning mountain views are reflected. There are constant views of the Matterhorn and the surrounding peaks. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…