When ski seasons end, mountain resorts promptly change gears and start getting ready for the influx of tourists who want an active, outdoor summer holiday. After all, where better to go than to beautiful, scenic mountains, where there’s hiking, biking and sightseeing aplenty? It’s true – the Alps in summer offer some stunning trekking, and this is one of a series of articles which focuses on one area and lets you know about all the best hikes.
Here’s a look at the hiking on offer from Switzerland’s Zermatt resort.
1 Day – Edelweissweg
Got one full day to experience some hiking from Zermatt? ry the Edelweissweg, an 18.8km walk which should take you about 7.5 hours. The Edelweissweg goes up to about 2,600m, starting at about 1,600m, and it’s fairly strenuous, so be fit and make sure you’re stocked up with food and water. The route goes from Zermatt to Alterhaupt, onward to Trift followed by Hohbalm, and thence to Zmutt before meandering back to Zermatt.
2 Days – Zermatt to Monte Rosa Lodge and back
If you’re looking to do an overnighter, this two-day trek takes you over a glacier and to stay at a mountain lodge. From Zermatt, you take the train to Rotenboden, hike for about four hours out to the lodge, stay there overnight and come back the following day. You’ll need to rent crampons in Zermatt for this, as there is ice all year round due to the high altitude, which also requires a bit of acclimatisation. It’s a challenging trek – it involves a drop and rise of 700m, so you need to be very fit.
3 Days – Saas Fee to Zermatt
This route finishes up in Zermatt, starting at Saas Fee – you can take the bus there and spend a few days walking back to Zermatt. As with the other trips, you need to book your accommodation in advance, and this has some high altitude trekking so you should ensure you are acclimatised. Day one takes you from Saas Fee on an exposed 19km hike to Grachen, giving astonishing views and taking eight to nine hours, before staying in the incredibly picturesque village. Day two sets off from Grachen and hikes along the Europaweg trail for 14km, taking about seven hours before staying in the Europhutte mountain hut (ONLY open in summer). It involves a steep climb and a walk along the ridge of the Mischbel, and is hard going. Day three finishes up the Europaweg trail, with challenging and fascinating terrain of tunnels, rocks and bridges, before finishing off with the Leisee Lake and heading down into Zermatt. This leg takes about 7 hours to walk 19km, and is the most rewarding, because you can treat yourself with a nice hot shower and some apfelstrudel at Zermatt. Book the Europahutte at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 Days – Tour Monte Rosa
This is a popular, long and strenuous trek starting and ending in Zermatt which involves crossing from Switzerland into Italy and back, essentially circling Monte Rosa. It is done in about eight to thirteen days, at an average of ten, and goes through woods, meadows and villages as well as along mountain ridges, with the highest point of altitude being 3,290m. The villages in which you stop en route usually include Theodulpass, St-Jacques in the Ayas Valley, Gressoney-la-Trinite, Alagna Valsesia, Macugnaga-Staffa, Saas-Fee, Grachen and Europahutte, though sometimes with others. Some overnight stops are in mountain huts, others are in villages and so in hotels. Best to get a guide for this one, though if you’re experienced at orienteering it’s possible to do alone – make sure you call ahead to book your accommodation, though, especially in July and August and even for mountain huts. You can find a list of mountain huts here: www.sac-cas.ch.
It would be ridiculous not to mention the Matterhorn and its mountaineering possibilities while we’re here, even though that’s not what this article is for. The Mattherhorn is 4,478m high, extremely close to Zermatt and is one of the six great faces of the Alps (and honestly, unless you happen to be a climber, probably the only one of the six you’ll have heard of). It’s also notoriously difficult to climb, though getting more popular with every year. If you choose to climb the Matterhorn, do not undertake it lightly. You’ll need a guide, ice picks, crampons, ropes, experience, acclimatisation and some serious fitness.