This post contains a few tips and tricks about the Matterhorn Ski Paradise.
For this post and to keep things simple, I’ve divided the Ski Paradise into four sections. Sections 1-3 are in Switzerland and section 4 is in Italy (Breuil-Cervinia and Valtournenche).
Here’s a list of shortcuts for this post.
- Sunnegga-Rothorn (section 1)
- Zermatt to Rothorn fast (section 1)
- Gornergrat (section 2)
- Matterhorn Glacier Paradise-Schwarzsee (section 3)
- Breuil-Cervinia (section 4)
Sunnegga-Rothorn (section 1)
Run #3 in the lower terrain where it connects to run #2 is dangerous. At this junction, there are cargo nets attached to the side of the mountain to catch people who “come in a little too hot” and would otherwise fly off of the mountain. A longer but safer end-of-the-day run is run #2 which is the arterial run to run #3.
Run #5 from Blauherd station terminates at Eisfluh station. The only way out is to take the chairlift back up to [near] Blauherd station. The problem with the Eisfluh chairlift is that it terminates slightly downhill from Blauherd station, so you must remove your skis and walk up the hill to Blauherd station to access runs #4 and 6.
Run #15 was always icy, even after a 24-hour snowy period.
Run #19 from Rothorn to the valley between sections 1 and 2 was one of our favorite runs. The run is wide, long, and was never icy. Some of the best views of the Matterhorn are from this run.
Adler Hitta and Rothorn Restaurante Pizzeria are great places for lunch and both have excellent views of the Matterhorn.
Zermatt to Rothorn fast (section 1)
If you intend to go to Rothorn (upper terrain, section 1), then the best funicular carriage to board in Zermatt is between the 5th and 6th orange lights from the top of the staircase on the LEFT side.
The photo below shows the orange lights along the funicular platform stairs.
When the funicular arrives at Sunnegga station (terminus), exit the carriage on the LEFT side and you’ll see a set of stairs that “Y” off of the funicular platform stairs.
Follow the secret stairs to the LEFT.
At the top of the secret stairs, you’ll be confused, surprised, and delighted to see an escalator (just like the ones in a mall!). Hop on that thing and ride it to the top!
Protip: Be sure to set your skis on the escalator stairs perpendicular to the metal slats of the stair tread otherwise they will get stuck in the slats and you may find yourself in a rather embarrassing situation trying to loosen your skis from the slats at the top of the escalator!
The top of the escalator is outside. You’ll be presented with a combi-chairlift/gondola system (every other carriage was a chairlift or gondola).
- If you are going to Rothorn (upper terrain), board a gondola
- If you are going to Blauherd (middle terrain), put on your skis, and board a chairlift (around the corner). Alternatively, you can board a gondola but the chairlift queue will always be shorter than the gondola queue.
When continuing to Rothorn, ride the gondola to Blauherd station (terminus), alight the gondola and walk into the station. Follow the path to the elevators and take the elevator up to the cable car station.
The Blauherd-Rothorn cable car runs frequently and can carry a lot of people (100?).
On a normal day, it should take about 30 minutes to get from Zermatt-Sunnegga funicular station to Rothorn following the above uplift route.
Gornergrat (section 2)
Run #26 from Breitboden terminates at the Riffelalp Gornergrat station. The only way out is to take the Gornergrat train to Riffelberg. The train runs every 15-20 minutes and the journey from Riffelalp to Riffelberg takes 10 minutes. So it could be 30 minutes until you are in Riffelberg and back on the slopes if you happen to just miss the train at Riffelalp.
To get from section 2 to section 1:
- Run #29 (turns into 26) to the Gant station
- Uplift to Blauherd (chairlift, not gondola)
- Run #9 to 2 to Zermatt funicular station
Easy to remember! 29-9-2!
To get to Iglu-Dorf on skis:
- Uplift (or ski) to Gifhittli station in section 2
- Run #35 to 45
To get to Iglu-Dorf on foot:
The hike to the igloo takes 15-20 minutes at a brisk pace. Snowshoes are recommended.
- Take the Gornergrat train to Rotenboden station
- Walk BEHIND the station depot (small wooden building)
- Walk through the tunnel (under the train tracks)
- Follow the snow plowed path and Iglu-Dorf signs
To get back to the Gornergrat train from Iglu-Dorf:
It is not feasible to hike back up to Rotenboden station so the only other option is to hike down to Riffelberg station. The hike from Iglu-Dorf to Riffelberg station takes 20 minutes at a brisk pace.
There is a snow plowed path that runs adjacent to the ski runs but goes very far out of the way (think of it as an arterial road) and requires more snow hiking than is necessary.
A more direct route is to walk on the edge of ski runs #45 or 37. This sounds like a dangerous venture but it’s not. No one skis on the edge of the runs – you’ll be fine.
Avoid the buffet restaurant at Riffelberg. The food is dreadful and was the worst meal of our vacation.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise-Schwarzsee (section 3)
Run #52 is a cross-country ski trail that has mistakenly been included in the Ski Paradise as a ski run. To avoid this run, run #51 must also be avoided because it connects to 52.
Run 52 is mostly flat with some uphill sections – a description you do not want to hear when talking about downhill skiing. This run can only be described as “uphill skiing in downhill skis”. On two occassions, we removed our skis and walked uphill.
If you find yourself in a jam and on run 52, then it is recommended to take the chairlift (located near Stafel restaurant) to Hirli and then ski run #53 to 56 to the Matterhorn Express gondola. Doing so will avoid the majority of flat sections and both uphill sections of run 52.
The weather at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise station is fierce! Expect strong winds and sideways rain/ice pellets!
Breuil-Cervinia (section 4)
From Plan Maison (middle terrain, section 4), there were two routes to uplift to the Swiss-Italian border at Theodulpass.
Route A: Take three consecutive chairlifts – the most efficient and preferred route for those who dislike removing their skis.
Route B: Take the gondola to Laghi Cime Bianche station and then take the cable car to Theodulpass station. There is a good view of the Matterhorn from the cable car platform at Theodulpass station.
Always remember, that if you can get to Theodulpass station, then you can get to Zermatt, even in a worst-case scenario (e.g. after the Zermatt lifts have closed). I’m not saying it would be the safest thing to do, especially as daylight fades, but it is possible to ski from Theodulpass to Zermatt.