Martin’s Blog – Our man in Zermatt – Jan 2013

Wednesday 16th January 2013

Hi Everyone

Arrived  in Zermatt at 4.15 yesterday after a good journey having left home at 6.45am (Tuesday).

Well this morning  (Wednesday)  I was out early getting the Gornerhrat Mountain railway up to 3100m which is over 10,000ft in old money. Well at 9.30  it is very very cold  -21 but sunny. Conditions are very good. So I have taken it very easy to get my legs working. My legs are a little sore which is to be expected but I will appIy some magic gel as recommended by fellow photographer and skier alex. Have attached a few photographs taken with my Canon Ixus pocket camera. The serious pictures are on my main camera which I carry in my rucksack.

Bye for now

Thursday 17th January

Bikes, Polar Bears, Whymper, Sechaud and much more

Firstly thanks for all the responses

Well today Thursday has been bitterly cold making your eyes and nose run. The sun is shining and the snow is glistening and is crisp under foot.  After yesterdays skiing I am having a day off today so I have been walking and exploring the locality taking photographs on the way. Well outside the station I found a long line of bikes which took my eye. Moving a few yards down the road I came across the Polar Bears outside a Lady’s hairdressers.

Outside a hotel on the main street is the plaque which commemorates the first climbing of the Matterhorn by British climber Edward Whymper. In addition across the street is the mountain guides memorial which is depicted by figures of mountain guides in glazed panels.

The metal plaque of a Zermatt scene is a representation of a painting by Paul Sechaud. This commemerates this painter who painted many scenes of Zermatt. The wood carving is located at the beginning of a local walk which takes you out of the village and gives good views looking down on Zermatt.
The remaining images are of various scenes that took my attention.

Friday 18th January 2013

Well today the sun is shining again and it is a lot warmer only -14.  Today I have been out on my skis so I have covered some miles. The weather is exceptional, good skiing conditions and powder snow up on the Theodul glacier. Well I started off by taking the mountain railway up to 3100m this is a leisurely and quick way to get high it takes about 30 minutes. The runs from here are relatively easy but they are good to get your muscles working before you embark on steeper runs. So then I crossed over to the Klein Matterhorn sector where you can get to the highest point to ski from  just under 13,000ft (3885m) unless you have lots of money and access to a helicopter. From here you are on the Italian border so there are good views in to Italy as well as being able to see Mt Blanc in the distance. So I did a number of runs on the glacier as well as taking the Matterhorn piste which takes you very close to the base of the Matterhorn.

While going up in one of the gondolas I spotted a number ibex in the snow sorry no photos. From the Klein Matterhorn sector  I traversed across to the Schwarzsee sector which gives good views of the Matterhorn and also there is the little church that sits by the lake of Schwarzsee frozen and covered in snow, however in the summer you get fantastic reflections of the mountain in the lake. From Schwarzsee I took the long trail via Stefelalp (refreshment stop) this brings you down to Furi where I get on the gondola back to the Gornergrat Sector and after a few more runs I get the train back down to Zermatt arriving just after 4pm a good days skiing.

Additional news well it is so called Scottish Week as there is a big curling competition, that is men chasing stones on the ice rinc with brushes going at a rate of knots.

Also for the chocolate lovers there is a photo of the Swiss Chocolate shop.

Lastly as it is Friday it is very busy with lots of people arriving for the weekend or longer. Every hour the train arrives with visitors having travelled up from the valley bottom taking about 1 hour to reach Zermatt at 1620 m about 5,600ft. If you are off then the 5 star plus hotels have there own horse drawn stagecoaches to whisk there guest to their hotels. It should be pointed out that Zermatt is a car free resort.

Well that’s it for today, enjoy the images!

Saturday 19th January 2013

Trees, Texture, Iglus, Chalets and a boat

Well I hope you are sitting comfortably then I will begin. This morning the weather was changeable with low cloud moving in. As normal I got the early Mountain Train up to Gornergrat and then headed to a different area taking a more difficult run called The White Hare, this run drops steeply and twists and turns sharply until you reach the valley of Gant. The good thing is that the run is reasonably wide and so although steep it is easier turn. The good thing about doing this run early in the morning means the piste is in great condition. Where as later in the day the piste has become all cut up and more difficult to ski.

From Gant I took the chair lift to the Sunnega area where I did a few runs passing Findeln where I got on a chair lift which had a heated seat much appreciated in the cold and the only one I have come across in Zermatt. The snow conditions in this area were not very good because of the effect of repeated freezing and thawing. It was just like skiing on rocks as a consequence you felt all the vibrations through your legs, knees and hips. To make it worse the light was very flat so it was very difficult to see the undulations in the snow and terrain. As I mentioned in the beginning  the weather was closing in so to make things  worse it started to snow which again makes visibility even more difficult.

Next I took one of the giant cable cars (Capacity 150 persons) up to Rothorn where I skied down to Gant via Findeln where I had a nice lunch of soup and pasta. From Gant I took the cable car up to Hothalli at 3286m the highest point of the day. This enabled me to drop down steeply and traverse across to the Gornergrat area where I was able to race the train down to Riffelberg. I won and was waiting for the train when it pulled in to station. I then took the train back down to Zermatt.

Well you say what about the Trees, texture, Iglu, Chalets  and the boat well these are some of the subjects contained within the images attached.

Firstly trees, at about 8,000ft  you have the tree line this is the point where trees can not survive. So you will find many deformed trees which are trying to survive they are half dead half alive. so there are a few images of these trees.

Texture well you will find this in the close up images of the trees and also the old alpine chalets.

The Iglu or Ice Hotel is high up just below Gornergrat and is carved out the snow and ice every winter. So there is an image showing the layout, I will try and get some better images in the next few days.

Lastly the boat well there is a bar called the Snowboat and it is in the shape of a boat. in the attached images there is an image of a sign for Potters Bar the local English pub very good for watching the football so I frequent this bar for the apres ski.

There is also an image of a map of the Ski Area so you will be able to follow my travels. For those train lovers  out there … there is an image of the old style mountain train plus an image of the new more powerful trains!!!
Well it has been an eventful day capped off by a local loud marching jazz band marching through the restaurant while I was having dinner.

Well tomorrow I will have an easy day leaving my skis in the ski room. So I will take a walk with my camera so who knows what I will come across later in the day I will go to Potters Bar to watch one of the football matches.

Lastly and not least …..


Sunday 20th Jan 2013

Snowman, Water Trough, my hotel, icicles, ibex, owl and much more

Hi Everyone

Well it was my intention to have a lie in this morning but I was awakened by loud explosions reverberating off the mountains, this could mean only one thing that there had been a lot of snow high up above the ski runs and before any runs could be opened the snow has to be brought down by controlled explosion this is to reduce the risk of avalanche.

As I was not skiing today after breakfast I set out on my walk climbing up above Zermatt which was quite exhausting so I was blowing for tugs when I got to the top and was grateful that a thoughtful person had placed a seat for the exhausted walkers. This walk took me through the forest and above the mountain railway and arriving and the area known as Winklematten don’t ask me why it is called this name (suggestions on a postcard).  From the walk you look down on Zermatt and because of the low cloud you could not see the mountains.

From Winklematten it is all down hill back in to Zermatt, so when I got back to Zermatt I decided to take a late lunch in the Brown Cow a typical Swiss pub/bar !!  So after my lunch I headed back to my hotel for a hour before going to Potters Bar to watch the football a great atmosphere, everyone was glad Man Utd did not win, Peter will be pleased!

So after the match it was time for dinner back at my hotel, I know that you all want to know that I am eating properly so here is tonight’s menu –

Bruschetta and salad
Saffron Cream Soup
Veal Hungarian style with rosti and cauliflower
Coupe Jacques (High in calories)

I have been asked to include some images of my hotel which is the Hotel Gornergrat Dorf, this is not to be confused with the  Gornergrat Kulm Hotel situated at 3100m. Thanks for all your messages and questions keep them coming and I will try to reply to you all.

It is my intention to hit the slopes again tomorrow I think it is less tiring than all this walking!! I think I will sleep well tonight.

I managed to get a picture of an Ibex for you but I am sorry it is a bit stiff and the same goes for the Owl.

I have found out why the signs showing the walker are the wrong way around. It is because when the walks are closed the post come down to form a barrier indicated no entry for walkers.

Other pictures included Chalets, snowman, water trough, memorials, rooftops and probably more.

So I am back on the piste tomorrow …………

Monday 21st January 2013

Clouds, Sun, White out, Snow, Iglu

Well this the weather was very closed in with low cloud obliterating the mountains. Not to be put off I set off on the mountain railway, it started to snow and I was thinking that I had a made a bad decision and I should have stayed in bed. Well at about 2,800m we burst through the cloud layer in to Glorious sunshine with all the 29 4000m mountains protruding through the cloud. This was a magnificent sight and one of the reasons along with my photography I enjoy the mountains.

The thing about taking to the mountains, is the fantastic views and at times the silence is deafening. I am very lucky to be able to participate in such activities and I am only too happy to share my adventures with you.

The difficulty for skiing was that once you dropped down you entered cloud. Taking in to account there was about 3 inches of new snow on the piste to contend with. This made skiing tricky to say the least and as a consequence I had my first fall of my holiday, no injuries a soft landing. I skied down to the Gant Valley where the weather cleared a bit and I was back within the trees that I mentioned a couple of days ago. I then took the big cable car up to Hothalli where again the views were tremendous. I then skied down to Gornergrat where we entered the cloud again. So I decided to have lunch a nice goulash soup.

So when I came to ski down to Riffleberg I ended up in a whiteout with visibility being 0. The only aids being the marker poles on either side of the piste, but it is still very easy to go the wrong side of the markers and find yourself in trouble. This run would normally take between 5 and 10 minutes. This time it seemed to take an age navigating from post to post. So as a consequence I decided to call it a day as it was to dangerous.

It is snowing hard in the village which will put a question mark about skiing tomorrow. It is still snowing as I venture out to watch the match. The things you have to do for entertainment watching Everton!!

Enjoy the images.

Tuesday 22nd January 2013

Gornergrat Kulm Hotel, Mountains again, Best dressed young snowboarder, Night time Zermatt, looking down on Zermatt snow covered chalet type buildings.

An early blog tonight as I have to finish packing for an early departure in the morning.

Well on awakening this morning  there was very heavy cloud cover so I decided not to bother skiing today after yesterdays episode.  After a late breakfast I went for a walk and did a bit of shopping. As the morning moved on the weather started to brighten up so I decided to go for a walk high up in the mountains.  I took the Gornergratbahn mountain railway up to Rottenboden which is at an altitude of 9,000 ft. On arriving at Rottenboden the clouds had all disappeared and had been replaced with a deep blue sky.  The walking trail starts here and winds it way down to Riffleberg. The walk is relatively easy with fantastic views so as a consequence I wandered slowly taking photos and greeting the many people who were also enjoying this fantastic walk.  On completing the walk I took the train back down to Zermatt.

As I am returning home tomorrow I had already packed my Skis and boots, so after checking in on line for my flight I took my Skis and Boots to the station where they are sent Flyrail. The Flyrail system works by checking in your bags at the rail station and next time I will see them will be at Manchester. The same works with your outward flight where my bags were checked in at Manchester and they go direct to Zermatt and my hotel. A great service which has never failed me.

Well tomorrow I will take the Glacier Express down the valley to Visp a journey of about 1 hour. The Glacier Express is one of the slowest train journeys in the world but has breath taking views all the way. The train takes about 9 hours to reach St Moritz.  My journey  takes me through the worlds longest land based tunnel that being the Lotschberg 2 base tunnel at 35Km long (21.5 miles).

It’s Fondue tonight for dinner with other Swiss delicacies.

Enjoy the images.

Wednesday 23rd January 2013

Hi Everyone

This is the end

I left Zermatt at 8-40 this morning with the temperature at -16. As the train wound down the valley to Visp  the temperature started to warm up, by the time I arrived at Thun in the Bernese Oberland it was like a glorious spring day.  As I had a 3 hour window to occupy I walked up to the medieval Castle and Church which look down on the town of Thun. Thun is on the River Aare that flows in to Thunnersee which is the lake of Thun. From the Castle you can see the snow capped mountains of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau which are located in the the Wengen / Grindlewald area.

Following a bit of lunch I walked along part of the lake visiting The Scherzligen church  that dates back to the year 761 .

The next part of the train Journey to Zurich Airport  goes via Bern the Swiss capital and takes just under 2 hours. On arrival at the airport my check in was swift using an electronic boarding card on my smart phone. The flight took 1.5 hours and I arrived home at 7-15. However I could not get in to the house as the door bell was not working. So I had to phone Barbara and ask her to let me in.

So finally I spent the next hour trying to fix the wireless door bell push, it was a good job I had a spare bell push. Door bell now working.

I hope you have enjoyed the images, the images you have seen are just the images taken with my point and shoot Ixus camera, so I am hoping there will be far better images from my Single Lens Reflex Camera. I will have to take some time sifting through all my image files to determine what images I will work on for future use. I will now let my legs recover before I go to Venice in early February.