What a difference a day makes

The Red Piste ‘Fluhalp’ off the top of the Rothorn is one of my favourite runs in the Zermatt ski area. It has that indefinable combination of turns, narrows, rollers, broad sections of piste and a challenging final sustained schuss down to Gant that create a quality ski run. From there you can either return back up in the direction of the Rothorn, to repeat the experience, or take a big cabin straight up to Hohtalli and head in a different direction.

View from the Rothorn. From Lt: Rimpfischhorn and Strahlhorn

View from the Rothorn. From Lt: Rimpfischhorn and Strahlhorn

In addition, skiing the ‘Fluhalp’ piste provides the opportunity for a stop-off at the halfway point to have a warming cup of coffee or lunch at the Fluhalp mountain hut (see below). Situated on a shelf high up where once the Findel glacier covered the terrain, it offers a grandstand view right over the Zermatt valley. It is also a superb place to hike up to in Summer.

The Rothorn top station is high – 10,180ft – and on the morning that this first image was taken it was -16C plus wind chill. The Rothorn is accessed by an underground funicular railway, then a chair lift, and finally by a big 150-person cabin (probably the source of my current chest infection). It’s worth the effort to get there. The higher you go, the better the views.

The day before, when I made my first trip to this high peak, it was a bleak place to be, the views closed in. Fluhalp hut is 1,400ft lower and the views of it, and from it, on that day were not particularly good due to a persisting low cloud base. The Matterhorn could be imagined rather than seen.

The view across the Zermatt valley from Fluhalp.   (The lower slopes of the Matterhorn can just be discerned dead centre).

The view across the Zermatt valley from Fluhalp.
(The lower slopes of the Matterhorn can just be discerned dead centre).

The hut stood cocooned in its own place. There was no sense of theatre, although patches of blue sky promised improvement. If I had been two hours later, it would have been clear.

IMG_7475_wpBut, it was clear on the following day when I returned to repeat the run. On that occasion the backdrop was stunning formed by part of a range of 4,000M peaks that form the ridge separating the Zermatt valley from the Saas valley.

The backdrop to the Fluhalp mountain hut

The backdrop to the Fluhalp mountain hut

Turn round through one hundred and eighty degrees and you get a magnificent vista of which this is just a small part – The Matterhorn is out of picture, further to the left.

The view from Fluhalp across the Zermatt valley. (Dent Blanche, Obergabelhorn, Wellenkuppe)

The view from Fluhalp across the Zermatt valley.
(Dent Blanche, Obergabelhorn, Wellenkuppe)

For adventurous hikers, Fluhalp can be reached on foot in winter on a track prepared for them, as you can see here. Mountain scenery is not just the preserve of the skier.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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11 Responses to What a difference a day makes

  1. Keep ’em coming Andy – great stuff!

  2. Great post Andy. You are a brave man. I had a go at skiing on a Corporate trip to X-Scape near Pontefract. I went down a 5 ft. slope and couldn’t stop…scary stuff – I must have absolutely no balance. How you guys have the bottle beats me – but keep em coming. 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      It helps to start young, James! I see snakes of five-year olds snow-ploughing their way down the red runs in a row behind their instructors absolutely unconcerned of the dangers and enjoying it. If they fall over they don’t have far to fall! I learnt to ski as a teenager, but then due to the pressures of work, the costs, and the refusal of an old-school senior partner to allow winter holidays I didn’t get back into skiing for forty years. But it’s a bit like riding a bike, you don’t forget. I was rusty but two days with a private guide and then two week-long courses with Jagged Globe on the basics of off-piste skiing and I can ski just about anything although tend to avoid moguls – not good on the knees!!

  3. Chillbrook says:

    How wonderful that looks Andy. Staggeringly beautiful! It’s no wonder you return each year. Beautiful pictures!

  4. shoreacres says:

    As a non-skier, I think it’s wonderful that they accomodate hikers in winter, as well. That really makes me happy. Not that I’m heading over there any time soon, but it’s nice to know that if I wanted to go have a little quality mountain time, I could. And the photos are marvelous.

    • LensScaper says:

      There’s lots to do for non-skiers. Snoe-showing, hiking, curling, toboganning. Non skiers can use the main lift systems too. And there are many other activities and things to do within Zermatt. Most hotels have their own pools, and spa facilities. You can be properly pampered with0ut even venturing outside the front door. Sadly it all costs money!

  5. Len says:

    Skiing is not my thing but have many friends that do ski. I am more of a hiker and that last photo is calling out to me.

    • LensScaper says:

      It really is a wonderful walk to Fluhalp, Len. Even in summer you can catch the Funicular underground railway and then walk from there – it’s not too demanding a walk and at the end of the day there is always the possibility of walking right down to Zermatt through the woods and that really is a wonderful walk. If you ever make it out to Zermatt, let me know!

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