Monday, 12 January 2009

Matterhorn


This is a view along the river that zips through Zermatt. It starts in one of the glaciers - if I had my ski map I could tell you which one but until I unpack completely I haven't a clue where anything is - so I'll just say there are at least three major glaciers and I think this stream comes from the Matterhorn glacier. It had snowed before we got there, so everything was pristine, white and smooth.


Easily ten thousand feet up, this shot is taken from the Kleine Matterhorn and stares straight down the valley into Zermatt. Remember you can click to enlarge the picture! Sunshine is glorious at this altitude because it keeps you warm, and enhances the whole world. There's nothing quite like a deep blue sky circling the mountain peaks and a white snowfield that feels like icing sugar beneath the skiis when you ski across it.

There are many crosses spattered around the mountains, and this one is right on the very top of the Kleine Matterhorn. It has a stark beauty against the deep blue of the sky, perched up there in the freezing cold and often howling winds at twelve thousand feet. The miracle of engineering that allows it is worth mentioning, too. Engineers have tunnelled half a mile through solid rock at the peak of the mountain to allow cable car access. After a nerve tingling ride across the glacier and a 90 degree ascent up the sheer north face of the mountain, the intrepid skier exits the cable car, walks through the tunnel and emerges blinking in the sunshine on the south side. (There is an ice grotto inside the glacier - more on that tomorrow.)

Step a few yards away from the entrance, enjoy the sun and you become aware of a huge presence on your right shoulder. You turn and there is the Matterhorn, sparkling in the sunshine. You catch your breath at its beauty - or you do if you are me. From the Kleine Matterhorn you ski down the slope with the icy cold air biting the back of your throat until you remember to shut your mouth. Then you feel the hairs in your nose freezing, and the bones of your face ache. The cold becomes terrifying, and then you break out into the sunshine once more, shift your balance and stop in a flurry of snow crystals dazzling in the sunlight as they drift back around you. Magic.

2 comments:

Linda Banche said...

More nice pictures. I didn't know there were crosses in the Alps. and a tunnel in the top of a mountain. Amazing.

Jen Black said...

I'll try and find the picture of the cable car going up to the mountain for you!
Jen