Within the 1 200 km stretch of the ethereal mountain range we have labeled the Alps exists a quaint little Swiss valley, full of fragrant chocolate, jet-setting tourists and overpriced food. And surrounding this quaint little Swiss valley (proudly bearing the name of Zermatt) are bountiful mountains, elevated by peak upon peak. Naturally, this area provides the perfect setting for a significant adventure, and no ordinary adventure at that.
Any tourist determined enough to set foot upon Zermatt soil (only reachable by train from Tasch, this car-free town can be considered rather hard of access) shall immediately be assailed by many specimens of the like – warm-logged houses with intricate wooden balconies adorned by brightly colored flower pots.
Upon furthering their ventures, our curious tourist will not want to omit the steep train ride leading up to Gornergrat. 3136 meters above sea level, this mountain ridge rises proudly upon a stunning view of rocky cliff-sides, affluent waterfalls and surreal glaciers.
If our traveler is ambitious enough to involve some exercise in their day, hiking down at least part of the way (although the whole way is also quite feasible) would be highly recommended – what can be better than keeping one’s muscles warm while on the lookout for the mountain’s tiny secrets?
Moreover, once our tourist blissfully descends to 1 620 meters, where Zermatt peacefully lies, they may notice the oddly shaped Matterhorn (4 478 meters), omnipresent to all Zermatt-dwellers.
Thus, whoever is not afraid of ascending into the claws of altitude sickness would be strongly advised to take a 20-minute gondola ride up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, installed upon a peak that theoretically gives visitors a perfect view of the Matterhorn – this, however, does remain quite theoretic since the Matterhorn usually obstinately hides behind an agglomeration of alpine clouds.
Our traveler’s faithful gondola will fly them straight over avalanche zones and icy glaciers, stunningly frozen as they ooze their blue masses down the cliff-side. On top of the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (quite a gimmicky title for a human installation constructed upon such an astoundingly high risk area), a freezing assortment of tunnels carved straight through the mountain leads to quite a variety of places. A cinema lounge equipped with jelly-bean like chairs heats up your freezing tuckus while a screen full of astonishing glacier shots fills your head with impossible dreams. One can bravely head through another chilling tunnel to access a small hill for tubing and sledding, complemented by a sophisticated T-Bar for skiers (yup, you can even ski there in the summer).
However, the best section of the whole area would be the panoramic view, naturally. The Swiss Canton of Valais being historically Catholic, a suffering Jesus dramatically presides over the spectacle; anyone with but a minimal sense of empathy starts feeling quite sad to see him endure such awful cold, completely naked and alone.
Behind the intimidating Catholic cross, our traveler will get to discern something quite beautiful, if they do not die from the subarctic temperatures beforehand. An infinite panorama of snowy peaks and massive waves of rock have been theatrically carved all around the peak, thanks to time and erosion (although the presence of Jesus strongly suggests “God’s Hand” at work).
All delusional couples are also quite welcome to embellish the balustrade with fluorescent locks, as though some kind of plastic security device will miraculously ensure that their love lasts forever. Quite the “powerful” symbol.
Finally, one last surprise awaits our avid visitors: the most high-altitude ice castle in the world. This creation may sound like an alpine gimmick at first (and I guess it kind of is) but it honestly offers quite a pleasant wonder. Firstly, guests are led through mysterious tunnels of ice and snow that joyfully resonate with corny 80s music.
Next, the experience truly begins. Relatively high ceilinged rooms with colorful lighting let viewers gaze into various dramatically lit ice sculptures, from houses to reindeer to a life-size Audi… And a rather claustrophobic slide, descending from one room to another, gives the children quite the sophisticated playground material.
Finally, after all these adventures, our traveler can take a well-deserved break in the cozy upstairs establishment usefully equipped with a restaurant, a gift shop and panoramic windows. The only detail preventing the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise from being deemed a genuine paradise would be the exorbitant price ranges – one even has to pay to use the urinals. Anyhow, it feels strikingly crazy to revert from summer to winter, and back again, within the time spam of only a few hours…