Gornergrat is part of the Pennine Alps, near the prestigious city of Zermatt in Switzerland. It can be reached from Zermatt by the Gornergrat rack railway which is the highest cogwheel railway in Europe. The ride itself from Zermatt to Gornergrat is an experience that should not be missed when visiting the city.
As we ascended the mountain from Zermatt, I found myself yawning constantly – not from lack of sleep but from altitude. As you creep into the clouds, the trees become more sparse and the lush landscape of the mountain gives way to something almost barren. It’s fascinating to witness the changes of nature as you climb the mountain in the comfort of the train. Just five stops along the line and we had reached our destination, Gornergrat, the final stop of the railway.
Listen closely to the creaks of the train as it catches the tracks, clink – clanking all the way to the top during the 30 minute ride.
Marvel at the heights you will attain (or view) on your journey:
- Zermatt 1630 m (5348 ft)
- Gornergrat 3089 m (10135 ft)
- Matterhorn 4478 m (14692 ft) – view
The temperature changed from slightly chilly in Zermatt to distinctly cold as we climbed the mountain toward Gornergrat. That feeling of cold gave way to a feeling of disappointment when I realized that the snow clouds hid the view of the Matterhorn and the promised panoramic view of 29 mountain peaks. I wanted those iconic pictures of the imposing mountains captured in my camera!
But when you are experiencing the wonder of nature, it’s hard to be disappointed for long. The wintery mix allowed for a different type of picture and a different story. Luckily, we had raincoats to put over our sweatshirts and that kept us warm enough.
There aren’t too many places we have visited where, in the month of JUNE, you can go from the comfort of a tank top in the city of Visp to layers of sweatshirts and coats as protection against the cold and snow after spending only a few hours on trains.
As we made our descent, the weather cleared again and the temperature started to warm slightly. Once back in Zermatt, it’s was a gorgeous sight to see the sun striking the snow covered mountain peaks.
We watched in amazement as a mountain biker left the Gornergrat station just as our train started it’s downward journey. He was going down the mountain so fast that he had time to rest at each train stop – he was keeping up with the train! It was a fast, muddy and, I can only imagine, exhilarating descent. I bet it’s exciting but that’s one experience I’ll leave to others!
Had the kids been older, the weather dryer and our experience level higher, we would have enjoyed hiking down the well marked trails.
The kids made a video while we were exploring Gornergrat:
Can’t see the video? Click HERE
We timed our visit in 2015 perfectly. The Matterhorn is celebrating 150 years since it’s first ascent. It’s incredible to think that on July 14, 1865, the first team reached the summit.
The story, however, does not have a happy ending. Four of the seven Alpinists fell to their deaths during the descent. How tragic to make it to the top, only to die on the way down. This feat spurred tourism in Zermatt and has enticed climbers to try their luck on the mountain ever since.
The town of Zermatt deserved further exploration. A day is not nearly long enough. There is so much to do and see. The town is charming with quintessential Swiss buildings, horse drawn carriages meandering through the streets and shops calling out your name. My name is Chocolate! We did pop in to one shop to purchase the Swiss delight. How could you visit such a city and not eat chocolate?
The kids wanted to play at Furi Adventure World, climb & zip line at the Forest Fun Park, hike the Vita Parcours trail, and possibly try summer skiing. I would have been more than happy for them to go skiing. I would have gotten a chance to shop alone and curl up with a book for the afternoon. (Well OK, with a E-book!)
Our Train Ride from Visp to Zermatt:
There are many ways to reach Zermatt, however, the town itself is car-free. A train is the most convenient and scenic way to get there. If driving, park in Täsch and either take the train from there or hire a taxi for an approximately 5km ride to Zermatt.
We chose to park our rental car in Visp and take the train all the way. It’s a picturesque ride winding through mountains and over bridges. Sit back and relax before starting your adventures in Zermatt.
We may not have seen the Matterhorn, but we did get a chance to experience 10,135 feet! We were huffing and puffing with every step.
We hope to visit Zermatt again, for at least a long weekend. We want to see more of the city, make another journey up to Gornergrat and take the kids to the Ice Palace. Only maybe next time, we will try for August….
Disclosure: I was provided with a railway pass courtesy of the Zermatt tourism office to help facilitate this article. As always, all opinion are 100% my own and may differ from others.