Zermatt (or “Matterhorn Ski Paradise” as it’s officially known) is another one of Switzerland’s resorts that needs little introduction. The pretty village sits at end of the Matter Valley under the symbol of Switzerland, the majestic Matterhorn (a.k.a. the Toblerone logo). At 4478m, the Matterhorn is one of Europe’s highest peaks, providing an ever present backdrop as you ride the resort.
- Highest Point: 3,883m
- Descent: 2,263m
- No. lifts: 21
The town is a compact and attractive place. It has its own train station and is reachable from Zurich airport in 3½ hours. The centre is car free but with lots of amusing souped-up electric golf carts hooning it around – the police cars deserve a special mention! It is an expensive destination, with plenty of plush hotels and restaurants, but if you’re on a budget then there are two well-located hostels.
Zermatt, and Hintertux in Austria are the only remaining European resorts open 365 days a year, and summer is a great time to visit. It’s a good hour up to the glacier but there is a park and pipe and a reasonable selection of short, steep pistes.
The resort has made a conscious effort to re-brand itself as a ‘family resort’ (complete with their own mascot in the form of Wolli the black-nosed sheep) so riders with wee ones in tow should definitely give it a look.
The Parks – 3/5
In the winter the Gravity terrain park is located on the Furggsattel up on the glacier and is served by a six-person chair. The top section features two parallel kicker lines. The pro-line has some tables up to 15m in length, each with two launches. Running alongside is the much easier beginner line.
“Each area seems almost to have its own weather pattern, so if the conditions look dodgy then check the webcams as it could well be perfect somewhere else“
Next to this is the halfpipe, but it isn’t guaranteed and will only usually appear from February. Below the first section of the park, you’ll find a jib line and a small boardercross course running alongside. In total they run around 20 features in the park. There are a couple of beginner mini-parks on the Sunnegga and Riffelberg peaks, and they even have magic carpets to save you hiking up.
In the summer the park moves further up the glacier, and features a very similar setup to their winter park. The halfpipe is particularly worth a shred during that sweet spot between being super icy in the morning and slushy at 11am.