Trift from Schwartsee
20.86km / 727m Ascent / 1697m Descent
On our walk back from the Schonbielhutte a couple of days ago, we had intended to walk via the area known as Trift - a walk that follows a high level balcony path and offers refreshments at the Hotel du Trift mountain hotel.
Bad weather deterred us from tackling it then, but it was still on the agenda in better weather, and much better weather forecast for today presented us with that option.
|The track down from Schwartzsee towards Stafelalp: looking
across to where we would later be walking
There are a number of ways of reaching Trift, but our preferred way is to take the cable car to Schwartzsee, walk down to Arbenbach via Stafelalp, and follow the Edelweiss trail to Trift before descending back to Zermatt beside the Triftbach stream.
|Beneath the Matterhorn
It was a wee bit chilly as we alighted at Schwartzsee, but the skies were blue and clear as we began our descent beneath the north face of the Matterhorn - for once, this holiday, clearly visible in all its glory in the early morning sunshine - firstly on a wide track (muddied by the construction work on the new Hirli skilift) then by path across the slopes to Stafelalp and track again through the hydro works in the valley bottom.
We reached the start of the Edelweissweg at Arbenbach after about an hour and three quarters, and stopped for a rest and first lunch, admiring the scenery.
|Looking towards the head of the valley, with the path
to the Schonbielhutte bottom right
The climb up to the balcony path is steep and lengthy, but it levels out after about an hour or so into one of the best paths in the area - great views all round, easy going underfoot, and with enough precipitousness to give it an edge and the possibility of rockslides to add a frisson of excitement. In other words, a proper mountain path.
|A proper mountain path
Although mostly safe, a head for heights helps in places, and the knowledge that one wrong step could result in a lengthy fall (ending on the rooftops of Zmutt 700m below) is cause for concentration to be maintained.
|Zmutt looking very small way down in the
valley, with Monte Rosa massif behind
At Hohbalmen, there is a junction with the very steep path from Alterhaupt, but we carried on along the contour path towards Trift. The hotel soon comes into sight, but there is work still to be done: a steep, loose zigzagging path of 300m descent means another half hour or so before arrival.
|Rounding the corner: Hotel du Trift looking very small in
the vast cirque beneath the Aschhorn, Furgghorn,
Platthorn and Mettelhorn summits
Then its cake time!
|Resting outside the Hotel du Trift whilst waiting for apple cake
Hugo is a very welcoming host, busily circulating amongst the guests. The hotel only opens in the summer season, and was due to close tomorrow for the winter. Still, he had 39 booked in for an overnight stay! We had also thought about staying here instead of the Schonbielhutte, and it has much to offer with good food and good company. Maybe next time, eh?
This time we had apple cake (still in the oven at the time of ordering) a bowl of vegetable soup whilst waiting, and beer/coffee to go with it, and enjoyed a restful and relaxing hour before beginning the descent back to Zermatt.
|The steep path down to Zermatt 750m below runs on
both sides of the Triftbach stream
It's quite steep, and gets steeper as you go down, but is a very fine way to end another good mountain day, and a couple of hours later we were back at the flat making dinner (pasta, broccoli and cheese sauce) before rest and relaxation to end the day.