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.
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 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.
But, 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.
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.
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.