The story of Zermatt is the story of the Matterhorn. What a mountain, what a silhouette! Four of the first mountaineers found their death there, and many others from then on, among them a friend of mine. He slipped and died in 1988 while trying to climb the rock on his own.
The first time I became aware of the village of Zermatt as being a possible location for winter holidays, I happened to receive a booking confirmation that told me in bold letters: «Freier Blick aufs Matterhorn!», what meant that from the windows of our rooms we had undesturbed Matterhorn scenery. In fact, one of the most interesting fotographs was taken directly from the balcony at about half past 6 in the morning (see below).
The rock is to be seen nearly everywhere. It jumps into view - and onto the fotos. All slopes are carefully arranged to make sure that you never loose sight of this most uncommon landmark. If you take a picture you will find the Matterhorn somewhere in the background. Downtown Zermatt it reflects on the window-pane, and even inside the supermarkets it grins at you from some packing material...
Matterhorn in the early morning sun*
But all of this means nothing compared to the morning. Let's imagine a marvellous morning. The first to be seen by the people of Zermatt is the Matterhorn, a golden shape in the light of the rising sun. Deep in the valley it is still dark. The birds are still asleep. However, high above the chimney tops the Matterhorn shows its gleaming wall. People of former times did contribute to this impressive appearance. When the moon sets near the mountain ridge it becomes even more impressive.
The tourist stands still for a moment. Then he gets out his camera and leaps. He puts on his back pack, takes his skis (or snowboard) and turns towards Winkelmatten. This is the day to get on top of Klein Matterhorn - and probably visit the other side, the skiing area of Breuil-Cervinia.