Ride to Toblerone Mountain

As I mentioned in the previous post, we disembarked at Trockener Stegg to take the larger cable car to get to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

Clad in layers of clothing, we now boarded the cable car. It was a relief to see the much larger and strong looking cabin as the day was gusty and drizzly. We hoped it won’t dangle and sway in the strong wind threatening to crash. Turned out, it was much more stable than the small gondolas and the ride was smooth letting us relax and enjoy the views.

Cable car to Matterhorn, Switzerland

Cable car to Matterhorn, Switzerland

As we started to move, we realized we were above several mountains now. We could see the snow covered expanses and the more unforgiving yet striking landscape around.

Views from Cable car to Matterhorn

Views from Cable car to Matterhorn

Views from Cable car to Matterhorn

Views from Cable car to Matterhorn

Finally we were here, at the final halt. We got down eagerly that we had managed to get here but also slightly dismayed that it was quite cloudy that day and hardly anything around was visible at that height. We ventured inside the station and were amazed to see it was built right inside the mountain with rugged rocks exposed everywhere.

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise inside the mountain

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise inside the mountain

As the observation deck came into view, our hoods went up and we stepped out in the biting cold at -1 degree Celsius. Stepping out felt like someone had kicked you in the gut and boxed your ears out. The difference in temperature was dramatic accentuated by the wind, fog and the snow around. We quickly snapped some pictures and trundled a few steps in the snow, I even picked some up with my bare hands only to realize later it was a bad idea. Chilled to the core, we now ran back inside.

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

People accompanying me complained of headache and nausea and so we settled in the super-heated and comfortable restaurant there. I read somewhere that the restaurant is new and it really was a very nice place at that height. Again, salute to the swiss authorities for making it convenient for tourists.

With not much to do and the views hidden behind thick clouds, we decided to head back sooner than planned. But not before going back out in the snow for a bit.

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

At Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

Although this excursion wasn’t ideal due to the clouds blocking all the views, we did manage to catch some from different points along the journey. Besides, the whole adventure was something that we will remember always. And it just means we have something to come back for 🙂

Another view from Cable car from Matterhorn to the lower cable station

Another view from Cable car from Matterhorn to the lower cable station

The ride back to Zermatt was smooth and uneventful. With a heavy heart we boarded the train for Interlaken regretting not making plans for an overnight stay in the pretty little town.

The Alps, the peaks, the trek, Swiss rail and the many train rides, the cable ride, the lakes, the villages, our log studio, the pretty lane in Interlaken where we stayed, the brilliant blue lakes, the vistas and the sight of paragliders high up in the mountains … Switzerland did not disappoint!

And this is where a most memorable journey comes to a close :-/

A quaint town and a treacherous ride

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland

Interlaken to Zermatt turned out to be an amazing day trip for us. While originally not part of the itinerary, we decided to go for it after some deliberation. More so, as we were put off by the hordes of tourists making a bee-line for Jungfrau, “Top of Europe” (3.5K m).  Instead, we zeroed in on Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (higher at 3.8K m) accessible from Zermatt. While getting to Jungfrau lets you ride to the highest railway station, getting to Matterhorn means you get to ride to the highest cable car station. And that is an adventure in itself!

Getting to Zermatt and then to the top of Matterhorn turned out to be a lot cheaper as well. We set out by train which was covered by Swiss rail pass. While we had to interchange twice, the views along the journey were truly spectacular. It’s commendable of the swiss authorities to have developed all this infrastructure making it so easy for tourists to travel around without hassle.

Horse Carriage, Zermatt, Switzerland

Horse Carriage, Zermatt, Switzerland

Tryst with mountain goats, Zermatt, Switzerland

Tryst with mountain goats, Zermatt, Switzerland

As we got out of train station and started walking along the streets of Zermatt, we immediately fell in love with this unassuming town. The place is charming with quaint cafes, restaurants, boutiques, sloping roof chalets and stores selling hiking boots and equipment. Horse carriages and mountain goats milling around and the gushing canal along the streets makes it all the more alluring.

Canal along the street, Zermatt, Switzerland

Canal along the street, Zermatt, Switzerland

As we had set out early morning without proper breakfast, we made a pit stop at this café called Hornli Beck. The place was cozy and warm and the food turned out to be so good. Rejuvenated with the rest and some hot food in our bellies, we made our way to the cable car station. We knew that this was going to be a 40 min ride. While I had been on cable car rides before this long a ride was new for me too.

Hornli Beck, Zermatt, Switzerland

Hornli Beck, Zermatt, Switzerland

The ride starts in those small gondolas till a certain station and from there on, you ride in the much bigger more stable cabin. With much excitement we boarded the small gondola and settled on the ledges.

Cable Car ride to Matterhorn, Switzerland

Cable Car ride to Matterhorn, Switzerland

As we gained height, we could already spot the majestic Alps and the scenery around. The weather was cloudy and very windy that particular day making the ride much more adventurous as the gondolas swayed in the howling wind. There were a couple of scary moments when the gondola suddenly jerked or when the entire cable just stopped for a few mins without warning, leaving us dangling precariously with that one cable keeping us from crashing down and disintegrating into a hundred pieces. Those minutes of suspension in mid-air with utter silence around except the chilling wind whistling outside left us anxious and wondering about what was going on. I guess it was just one of those routine things when they had to stop the machinery to make some technical checks. As the gondola jerked into motion each time that happened, we heaved a sigh of relief and settled back on the ledges again.

On the cable car, Matterhorn, Switzerland

On the cable car, Matterhorn, Switzerland

We continued to ride on and now the snow covered peaks seemed much closer and the air crispier and chillier. We put on more layers of clothing in preparation as we approached the last of the stations where we needed to disembark to take the larger cable car.

Eventually, we were at the last stop called Trockener Stegg. We ran out to the open observation area to catch a glimpse of the peaks without the glass obstruction. The weather outside had transformed leaving us shocked as we stepped outside exposed to the elements. The wind was in full force threatening to misbalance us and so nippy, it threatened to freeze us right to the bones. In no time, we ran back inside under the protection of the thick walls and glass panels.

View from observation area at Trockener Stegg

View from observation area at Trockerner Stegg

We now made our way to the cable car station mentally preparing to go to the top. By now, we could imagine how cold it would get further up and were suddenly grateful for our thick jackets, hoods, socks and shoes.

We waited for the cable car now and 10 mins later, it was ready for us to board.

More on it in the next post …