Friday, August 26, 2011

Majestic Matterhorn

I was suppose to run a trail race in Lucerne, Switzerland on August 20th but when my lower left leg started giving me problems a couple of months ago resulting in a forced running hiatus, I had no choice but to withdraw from the race.  Lisa and I had, however, already purchased plane tickets to Switzerland so we decided to ditch our weekend plans in Lucerne and instead booked a hotel in Zermatt.  The quaintness of the town -- electric cars are the only permissible type of motorized transport -- coupled with the majesty of the Matterhorn towering over the town far exceeded my expectations.  And for good reason, the Matterhorn is 4,478 meters high (14,690 feet) and is iconic of the Swiss Alps.  In addition to buying a refrigerator magnet featuring the Matterhorn, we also took pictures of it.  A lot of them. 
Clockwise from top-left:  The Matterhorn, the Matterhorn, the Matterhorn, and the Matterhorn.
It's a good thing there are miles and miles of trails to hike, otherwise the carbohydrate-heavy dishes -- three-cheese fondue is one -- might not be, ummm, the most nourishing.
Three-cheese fondue, bread, boiled potatoes, and beer.
"We like cheese.  Especially melted cheese."
We spent the day following our gluttonous three-cheese fondue meal hiking the trails above Zermatt.  We set out about 8:30AM and returned to our hotel about 12 hours later, having covered 24+ kilometers (14+ miles). 
Findeln, a small mountain hamlet, and the Matterhorn
Trail signage
A mountain pond, Stellisee, and the view opposite the Matterhorn
"Pardon me, but will you take our picture in front of -- what's it called again -- the Matterhorn?"
The trail to Oberrothorn (Weg zur Freiheit) is the highest hiking trail in Europe (3,414 meters)...onward and upward!
"Yoooouuu caaaaannnn doooooooo iiiiittttt!"
"Thanks there, coach, but why is it you're behind me -- and sitting down?"
According to the hiking guide, the summit of Oberrothorn is one of the most spectacular viewpoints in Zermatt.  Touche!
And this is why I'm sitting.  Not too keen on accidentally plunging off a rocky, vertical drop...
...so I continue to sit -- cling -- to the rock.
Just four hours and 1,794 meters (~5,800 feet) of descent back to Zermatt!
"Awesome single track.  And definitely runnable."
Prior to returning to Vienna the next day, Lisa and I hiked up to Riffelalp -- substantially shorter in length than the previous day's tour -- and returned to Zermatt via train. 

If you were so inclined, you could take this train all the way to Gornergrat (45-60 minute ride from Zermatt), but the round trip would set you back over $100, although if you did... 
you might not get as many shots of the Matterhorn?

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