Thursday 15 October 2015

Zermatt September 2015 - Day 9

Trockener Steg, Gandegghutte, Schwartzsee, Stafelalp & Zmutt

21.67km / 713m Ascent / 1958m Descent

During the second half of the holiday we had enjoyed much better weather, and according to the forecast another cracking day was in store. So we were up and away quite early, catching the gondola from Zermatt via Furi to the Trockener Steg (a ski station on the way up to the Klein Matterhorn).

We had given this walk a recce from the gondola yesterday, and had a plan of sorts in mind - walk up to the Gandegghutte (3029m), walk back down to Schwartzsee along the Saumerweg and see what to do after that depending on time/weather/inclination.

On the way to the Gandegghutte

We had started quite early and made the 25 minute walk from the Trockener Steg to the Gandegghutte by about 9.45am. The chap was there, but was closing today for a break before the winter season started at the beginning of December. Still, he was able to rustle up two coffees, and threw in a couple of leftover croissants for good measure.


Sign indicating the continuing path into Italy
over the Theodulpass

This hut is near the Theodulpass, the pass leading over the mountains from Switzerland into Italy (part of both the Tour du Matterhorn and Tour du Monte Rosa routes). It looks difficult in that it is snowy, and everywhere all round seems glaciated, but there is a walking route - clearly signed from the hut - which presumably offers no fundamental problem to walkers with the right gear, the right knowledge and a fair forecast.

Heading off along the Saumerweg

A last look back at the Gandegghutte, with the Breithorn
and Klein Matterhorn behind 

From the Gandegghutte, we almost doubled back on ourselves, and followed the Saumerweg through rocky terrain. Despite the early sunshine and that of yesterday, a thin film of ice still existed in one or two places where shallow puddles lay.

Looking down into the Mattertal

Passing beneath the Trockener Steg, we carried on down to eventually arrive at Furgg - a small flat space at the top of a ravine where all the little mountain streams nearby coalesce to form the Furggbach - then made the last 30 minute slog up to Schwartzsee and a break for lunch. After the quiet of the Saumerweg, it was noticeably busier here - not entirely unexpectedly given its proximity to the cable car.

Our lunchtime view: I never realised just how
cake-shaped the Matterhorn actually is

With time and good weather on our side, we again had choices - which way back? Via Stafelalp seemed a good idea, so we set off down the track, stopping only to watch a helicopter unload construction materials for the new Hirli gondola.

At Stafelalp, we stopped for a lengthy break, with cake and beers to consume in lovely surroundings. A final choice then offered up: straight to Furi and back, or the longer route via Chalbermatten and Zmutt? No contest! 

The path through the moraine, not in the rain this time

On such a fine day, we really wanted to make the most of it, so the long route it was, and a very good choice too - a few days earlier we had walked some of these paths in the pouring rain on the way back from the Shonbielhutte.

A last look up the valley

We were back about 6.00pm, and apart from a stroll up the main street (2.0km) to see what was going on (some kind of organized travel trade fair in the streets) that was it for the day. 

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