Two days ago we looked down from a chair lift in Flying Uphill. Today we look up at the chairs and their riders as they fly overhead. It’s an opportunity to see the chairs and the views in a single frame.
This is Zermatt, my favourite Swiss ski resort, home to the mighty, majestic Matterhorn, a mountain that forms the backdrop to so many images, for the simple reason that it so powerfully dominates the skyline.
The first image was taken from the Rothorn ski area. Overhead is the Patrullarve chairlift that carries skiers back up from Patrullarve (the end point of black, red and blue runs) to Blauherd at the heart of the Rothorn ski area. From this area you get some of the best views of the Matterhorn, views almost identical to those seen from Zermatt village, but from a far higher viewpoint.
The second image is from the Matterhorn glacier paradise ski area. The chair from Trockener Steg to Furggsattel is just about to reach its high point on the Swiss-Italian border. We have moved round the Matterhorn clockwise about sixty degrees, and the lower slopes of the Matterhorn are, in this view, obscured by the snow slopes of the nearby Furgghorn. The upper section now includes (left skyline) a small portion of the Italian side of the Matterhorn – in most people’s opinion not nearly as attractive as the Swiss aspect (but not so easy to compare in this image).
So to complete the comparison, the final image is from the end of the descent into Italy from Testa Grigia, (another high point a little further along the frontier ridge from Furggsattel), on one of the greatest red runs in the Alps (Red Seven) that swoops all the way down to Cervinia. It’s a drop of more than 4,500ft, and for me it takes about twelve minutes in one continous ski on legs that, by the end of the run, are ‘shot’. Then it’s time to survey the full view of the Italian side of the Matterhorn, significantly different from the Swiss side, as we have shifted our viewpoint by another seventy or so degrees clockwise.