Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

I did a quick preview of our trip on the Gornergrat Bahn in last week’s post (see here). Like so many other things in Switzerland the little cogwheel railway is another masterpiece of engineering in a difficult terrain.

 

 

Obviously we were going up a mountain but in comparison with other railways we’d been on, this one was especially steep. There are several little stations en route some of which were being renovated in time for the summer season and you can always get off and hike along any of the trails if you so wish. We decided the train was the way to go!

In late spring (May) most of the snow was long gone down in the valley but as we chugged uphill, melting slush and scraggy rock gave way to a brilliant white sea of snow. By the time we reached the higher passes we were almost dazzled by the clear blue sky and sunshine reflected in the powder white of the snow.

 

IMG_4815(1)

The majestic Matterhorn

 

As we emerged from one of the tunnels, we unexpectedly encountered several marmots scampering around in the snow by the side of the train. In all our trip to the Alps, we’d never managed to see one of these little creatures in the wild so this was a real treat. However I wasn’t quick enough with the camera so you’ll have to take my word for it. If you look closely at the photo, the dark specks in the distance are actually marmots and you can see the paw trails crisscrossing the fresh snow. More information on marmots here from our trip to the Marmot Paradis at Rochers-de-Naye.

 

Gornergrat Bahn - Journey Up the Mountain

En route up to Gornergrat – marmot trails and marmots in the distance!

 

Our journey took just over half an hour and we arrived at Gornergrat Station, the highest open air railway station in Europe at 3,089 metres above sea level.

 

Gornergrat Station Switzerland

Gornergrat Station Switzerland – Kulm Hotel in background

 

We couldn’t have asked for a better day – brilliant sunshine and views all round to the high mountain peaks. There are 29 peaks rising above 4000 metres in the Matterhorn region, which straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy.

Initially we stepped over to the small viewing area to take in the scenery. There is a much larger viewing area higher up – just as well as it was very crowded down by the station. The Kulm Hotel and Observatory is a little further up the mountainside and is a 5 to 10 minute walk away or a quick lift ride up from the station.

Just a note that you are over 3000 metres above sea level at this point and you do notice the thinner air (or at least we did). Nothing major but for instance I ran up and down some stairs inside the hotel and just noticed I felt slightly breathless, which I would never normally do and Mlle for some reason felt a bit off and giddy going up in the train and none too good at the summit. It’s nothing to do with age or fitness – some people get affected by altitude a bit more than others. Best advice is to take it a bit more leisurely than normal, drink plenty of water and if you do feel ill head back down the mountain on the next train.

 

 

We decided to relax a bit and enjoyed a cup of tea out on the sundeck before setting off to walk the last couple of hundred meters up to the viewing platform at the top of Gornergrat. Too many photos for this week’s post, despite heavy editing, so I will save the rest for next week!

 

Gornergrat Summit Viewing Platform

Gornergrat Summit Viewing Platform – map of the mountain range on the information sign

 

Copyright Β© 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

11 thoughts on “Matterhorn – Gornergrat Bahn Part 1

  1. restlessjo says:

    Incredible to be so close to the Matterhorn. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Thank goodness I’m clutching a hot mug of coffee. You know I’m not fond of the white stuff. Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend, Rosemay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it was a surreal experience being that close to such an iconic mountain Jo – stunning views in all directions! It was actually a mild day and lovely in the sunshine! Think you would have enjoyed the sundeck – the views were priceless and it was quite warm! It’s been a long weekend here so just returned from a day out in the country. We visited a small private zoo south of Perth and had a lovely lunch over the river. Rain kept away most of the day too. Hope your weekend was a good one and will be along to catch up on reading very soon! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Just gorgeous Rosemary, the contrast between the snow and the blue skies is stunning. I don’t think I would be up for hiking here either, it would be the train for me too!! We were in Colorado years ago at a very high altitude and I remember that strange breathless feeling just walking along a level path – I wasn’t too keen on it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The colours are so vivid up in the mountains Joy – it’s an amazing experience and it was such a lovely, sunny day! I know it’s a slightly odd feeling being up at altitude isn’t it – thought I should mention it as the air is different and people can be worried if they don’t realise what is happening. I didn’t really like that slightly unusual breathless feeling either – it was the only negative though! We’ve just had a long weekend here so been out for the day to a country zoo south of Perth with the family followed by a lovely pub lunch. A quiet evening I think! Hope you’ve had a good weekend and a good week ahead πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gilda Baxter says:

    Stunning vistas, great place to stop for a cup of teaπŸ˜„

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it was certainly a cup of tea with a view Gilda! Such a wonderfully clear day – the views were amazing! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what a nice weather you had!

    We hardly saw the top.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were incredibly lucky Johanna! We did check the forecast and knew we had a window of opportunity that day. Apparently the next day it was raining with heavy fog and mist and no visibility! The weather seems to change so rapidly up in the mountains! I have more photos coming up soon! πŸ™‚

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  5. What incredible views, and the white snow against that vivid blue sky is breathtaking. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome Susan πŸ™‚ It was certainly an incredible experience and one we’ll remember for a very long time. The brilliance of the blues and whites was stunning! I have some more photos to share too as there were too many for 1 post!

      Liked by 1 person

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