Cities / Towns Visited: 18
Countries Visited: 8
Steps Taken Today: 16,086
Steps Taken Around the World: 851,103
We awoke to partly cloudy skies and, out the window, the peak of Matterhorn was shrouded in mist. We quickly tucked into our hostel breakfast before scurrying off to the foot of the mountain to try our luck at scaling it, hoping that the weather would hold. As we reached the desk of the lifts, we were told that we wouldn’t be able to make it to the summit then and there, but we could go up to the intermediate station, and wait to see if the lift opened at ten, if conditions improved. Thus we bought tickets (which stung the wallet a bit), and hoped for the best. We jumped into one of the small pods that shuttles you up to the first station; Füri. Dangling over the Alpine valley, it was hard not to be enamoured by the gifts of nature all around us; the babbling streams, the tiny wild flowers, the majestic pines. There was a serenity to it.
Spit out at Füri, we quickly walked onto the next lift up to Trockener Steg. This was a large communal pod, but due to the poor weather, it was relatively empty, seemingly just us and a tour group, meaning we were free to move around and appreciate every angle of the view as we ascended. As we glided up, the lush valley gave way to sheer stone cliffs, blanketed by pure white snow. As the pod docked, we stepped out into the frosty air. We moved upstairs to the restaurant and viewing deck, and running outside, like the eternal children we are, we immediately began throwing snow balls at each other. After our hands became too numb to continue, we snapped a few photos. The view was stunning, if a little restricted by the incoming clouds.
As we reached our temporary cold threshold, we ducked back into the restaurant and perched at a table beside the window, deciding to settle in and work on our blogs while periodically checking if the lift up had opened. As time ticked on though, we could see the wind whipping snow off the mountain and swirling it into a flurry of frozen droplets; it was safe to say a storm was brewing. As our hope for reaching the apex faded, the last nail in the coffin was hammered in by a gruff looking lift operator doing the rounds, herding everyone downstairs. In no uncertain terms he informed us that we needed to descend, as the storm was worsening, and if we didn’t we’d be sleeping on the mountain. As we were crushed into the pod with every other person on the mountain, we made the disappointing trip back down to Furi.
As Füri is further down the mountain, and thus away from the storm, we decided to at least try and make the most of a bad lot, and go outside the lift station for a moment, before heading back down. There was still a little snow around here, and so in an attempt to cheer ourselves up we threw a few more snow balls at one another, and built a tiny snowman; seriously playing in the snow never gets old. Having dubbed our snow creation Jasper, and bidding him farewell we bundled back into the lift and headed back to Zermatt.
With our adventure for the day cut short, we wandered the village a little, visiting the old town, with its cute old wooden huts from the olden days of the town’s origins. With our options for continuing our adventures being a small museum, hiking in the incoming rain, or paying $200 each to go on a cogwheel railway, we decided instead to just pack it in for the day and relax at the hostel instead. Us weary travellers sometimes need a holiday from our holiday. Eventually though, we had to venture out in search of food. We had previously found out from the reception that they wouldn’t even be running dinner tonight as no one else had shown any interest, meaning we were once again at the whim of Zermatt’s food prices, and with the trip up the mountain already cutting a nice chunk from our allotted spending, we were on the hunt for cheap eats. After a little googling we came up with either a small shop that sold rotisserie chicken and chips, or a bar that sold reasonably priced pizza. However, when we arrived at the chicken shop they had just sold out to a large group that had walked in, so we were out of luck there. Our venture to the pub then concluded with us finding a closed sign, with no explanation (Google had clearly stated that they should be open, and they had no sign saying they were closed for the off season, like many of the other restaurants in the town, but none of that thought process was going to make it open). Once more we were forced to fend for ourselves by scrounging together another cold supermarket meal. You really do begin to miss hot food quite quickly, I must admit.
As we settled into our beds once more, the overwhelming disappointment of the day washed over me. When you’re spending a good chunk of change to purchase your dream experience, and it still isn’t enough to get you what you want, or the circumstances mean that you cannot achieve your goals, it can be somewhat devastating, but I did try to keep my spirits up. We had some nice views, and it was my first experience of a snow storm. I was grasping at what I could to stop myself falling to despair. Tomorrow was another day right, and if the weather was a little better, perhaps we could try the mountain once more, just bite the cost bullet and do it; after all, its easy to say ‘we’ll come back and do it next time’, but in truth it would cost us more to get all the way back here, and pay to stay again, than it would to just do it now and be merry in seeing the back of Zermatt in finality. People like to say ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!’, but in truth, unless life also gives you water and sugar, its going to be pretty piss poor lemonade. When life gives you lemons, sometimes all you can and need to do is hold out hope; remember that some days life also gives you chocolate, and maybe if I hope just enough, life will give me sunshine (or even just no storms). Hope is the ethereal substance that sustains us when we have nothing else, it is the light in dark places when all other lights go out, and it is free to all who seek it.