Final day walking the Haute Route, which I had mixed feelings about. After nine days it was getting a bit routine, though there were a few nice surprises today, but it was also a very simple existence of walking, taking photos, eating and sleeping. The return to civilisation, and large numbers of people, even in the very refined Zermatt was a bit of a shock.
I started the day in the Europa Hut with slightly clearer mountain views around sunrise.
A few minutes after leaving the hut was the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge to cross, the 494m long Charles Kuonen Hängebrücke. Thankfully far more stable than the shorter bridge I had to cross yesterday, it was still quite a nerve racking experience. The ten minutes it took to walk across it felt longer…
I enjoyed much more the 100m long Wildikin Tunnel, built as there was no way to continue the track round the side of the hill. It had solar powered lights inside, though I only turned them on for photos after I’d passed through, it was more fun in the dark with a torch.
Although far safer than the closed sections of the Europaweg which I missed yesterday there were still a few sketchy parts today. Most of which thankfully were roped as shown. The biggest risk is your pack catching onto a rock as it is wider than you.
There are large parts of the Mattertal Valley susceptible to avalanches judging by the amount of defences that have been built. Some could be seen high up, across the valley.
Others the track literally goes underneath as this handy illustration showed.
Between these concrete barriers were yet more, but shorter, tunnels.
After which I got my first view of the Matterhorn for the day.
About half way through the day I passed through the attractive Täschalp village.
Beyond which were half a dozen avalanche shelters. Not sure I’d want to walk along here in winter or during storms…
Tufteren village was a good spot for some apple cake and views of the Matterhorn.
Sunnegga is famous for reflections of the Matterhorn but it was too windy today.
I stopped for lunch at the rather flash Adler Hitta in Findeln, which had great views, and lovely potted flowers.
The half hour walk between Tufteren and Findeln was a slog along a dull gravel road which I didn’t enjoy. I had been regretting not going direct to Zermatt from Tufteren, but was keen to finish the Haute Route ‘properly’ along the official paths. Thankfully it all came right in the end with the lovely downhill looping Winkelmatten track which ran through very pleasant woodland, with frequent views of the Matterhorn.
This came out in the newer but very pleasant Winkelmatten suburb of Zermatt, which of course had a church.
From there I made it to my hotel for a welcome shower and change of clothes before heading back out to explore the town. Zermatt is quite lovely, with uniformly beautiful buildings, both old and new.
Like Aguas Calientes, by Manchu Picchu in Peru, Zermatt is only accessible by train. There are no cars, which allows for a much more human oriented town design, and enjoyable atmosphere. People walk or cycle, and there are electric taxis to transport luggage. Even the Police have funky electric vehicles.
My first stop was the excellent Matterhorn Museum. Built underground like an archeological dig, it is filled with examples of how Zermatt once was, and it is a treasure trove of information on mountaineering in the region.
Nearby is Pfarkirche St. Mauritius, the main church for the town.
Outside of which is the famous Mountaineer’s Cemetery, where there are far too many graves for mostly young people who lost their lives climbing one of the nearby peaks. Over 500 people have died on the Matterhorn alone, making it one of the deadliest mountains in the world.
Just across from the church, by the river, is the main Zermatt Cemetery. I love how colourful and well maintained Swiss cemeteries usually are. This had watering cans which people would fill up and take around the graves to tend to the flowers.
There was also an English Church a little way up the hill, worth the quick walk to reach.
To end with better views of the Matterhorn from the following morning after sunrise.