St Niklaus to Stalden via Kalpertran & Emdt
20.10km / 1110m Ascent / 1444m Descent
This morning we took an early train down the valley towards St Niklaus, a modest town about 35 minutes away by rail. In the Zermatt area, it is so easy to look upwards, but we had been impressed with the potential of this area as we passed through it on our arrival transfer, so decided today to explore down the valley.
Low cloud hung in the valley as we set off, but blue skies and sunshine beyond promised at least some good weather. And so it proved: in Zermatt it rained all day, so we probably got lucky in finding the best that was on offer.
|Hops growing in the hedgerow
Alighting at St Niklaus, we had no map, no book and no pamphlet, and only an outline plan of what we might do. So we looked at the signpost outside the station building and opted for the path to Kalpertran about 90 minutes away.
|Metal pathway between river and rail
|Road, river and rail
A nice, undulating path followed the river downhill, mostly through woods: at times peaceful and quiet, at others picking up noise when road, rail and path wove closely together in the steep sided gorge.
Arriving in Kalpertran, we headed for the station and, we hoped, information about where to head next. And so it proved: we found a handy panorama board and leaflet showing paths and villages up on the west side of the valley, and we cobbled together an itinerary of sorts from them.
The sign reading “Emdt 1h 10min” looked most promising, and we followed it as it zigzagged steeply up the cliffs for a while, eventually popping out on a sunshine meadow some 500m higher.
|Climbing towards Emdt
|Approaching the church, Emdt
|A large, modern church in a small, old village
A large, newly-built church greeted us as we entered the village, and we stepped inside for a few minutes before the lure of refreshments proved irresistible. Calling in at the Restaurant Morgenrot, we chose coffee and Apfelstrudel.
|Restaurant Morgenrot - poor weather over Zermatt behind
The coffee came quickly, but our order was behind that of a large group of cyclists who had all ordered something different, and we were getting a bit annoyed at the delay. We were just about to give up when it and profuse apologies arrived – and it was well worth the wait!
The next stretch was a contour path around towards Torbel, another reasonably sized village about 75 minutes away. We walked along roads and paths, past little farms with cattle and sheep grazing, and there was a much more pastoral ambience than that in sports-mad Zermatt.
From Torbel, we needed a path down to Stalden. Our panorama plan showed a couple of options, and we followed the one we selected pretty well, with only a couple of "location malfunctions" along the way. It was a steepish decent - some 700m – but we got down in plenty of time to catch the early evening train back to Zermatt.
|Start of the descent towards Stalden
I popped to the shops for supplies, Missy G headed back to base to start the dinner – a very acceptable leek and chorizo risotto. After dark, we took a stroll to see if we could see the Matterhorn memorial lights – a series of lights installed on the mountain to highlight the route taken by Edward Whymper and his team on the first successful ascent 150 years ago and part of this year’s anniversary celebrations. Plenty of people were out looking, but low cloud meant a “no-show” in the end (2.5km).