Zermatt Glacier Hike

In the last post, we had just finished our multi-day hut-to-hut hike on the Alta Via One, and had hit the road again to Zermatt, Switzerland. Our plan in Zermatt was to see the Matterhorn (kind of a given) and glacier climb Mt. Breithorn. We had parked our car in Tasch, just north of Zermatt, since Zermatt is car-free and you have to take a train in. We brought small backpacks with only what we needed for the overnight trip. 

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Be warned: Zermatt is about as touristy as it gets.  We grabbed dinner and paid ~$10 for a liter of water!  Beer was much cheaper, and at least the food was good.  We liked the Swiss entrée known as Rosti (hash browns with egg and other toppings). Our accommodation for the night was a local hostel where we were lucky to have our own room full of twin bunks.  Despite all the room, we ended up sharing a twin bed since I was freezing!

We made it through the night and ate an overpriced breakfast of toast & hot chocolate.  At least the view of the Matterhorn made up for it. 

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I got all strapped/suited up for the climb, guided by a local outfitter, and was excited to try out some new hiking wear: gators.

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I was a little apprehensive because I was feeling sick and didn’t know how I’d react at altitude, but we were there, so I’d just have to find out. We met our group and guide, Thomas (Toe-mAs) at the gondola station. We laughed because he was like a male model out of Zoolander, and had a couple of outfit changes during the trip. The gondola ride up to the base of the hike was cool – Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters played while we were sailing past the sheer rock cliffs and glaciers. Epic.

We were going to hike this guy:

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At the top we got tied together (in glacier hiking, there are crevasses you don’t want to fall in to, so you stay tied together as a group while hiking).

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About half way up, we donned the crampons while Thomas changed outfits. Anyway, the crampons were great since they felt like claws.  You can see there was a snow path for the hikers to follow.  Since we were a fit group, Thomas really had us moving and passing other hikers by leaving the trail and going through the deep snow – it was a workout!

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We summit-ed after 1:20 hours; the hike up normally took 2 hours, but our guide was hauling us since we were a fit bunch! Maybe the male model had a date?

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Shortly after summiting it got really cold & windy just standing there, so I was happy to start back down. We pretty much skied down, just cutting through the zig-zags. We saw some crevasses on the way down – scary! At the bottom we had lunch overlooking Mt. Blanc and took a quick ice palace tour.  It was just okay.

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There are few times when this happens, but I think I actually wore David out:

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Back at the village, we returned our climbing gear, ate some ice cream, then took the train back to Tasch. Egbert our rental car was waiting for us and next stop was Lauterbrunnen. The drive was a quick 2 hours, but we had a good laugh when the GPS told us “turn right and board ferry”. We got o drive the car onto a train which tunneled us through a mountain and toward Interlaken. The Europeans do love their tunnels!

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2 thoughts on “Zermatt Glacier Hike

  1. I’ve been enjoying all your posts lately – terrific photos. Curious question, since the group is tied together, if 1 person falls into the crevasses, wouldn’t he/she drag the entire group down? That’s pretty scary!

  2. Thanks! It’s been fun for me to document the travels – I like being able to look back on them. On the glacier hiking, they tie everyone together so that if one person falls in, the others can dig their ice axes in to the ground and keep that one person from falling. It definitely makes it a group effort!

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