Blue skies and serious temperatures in Zermatt

6th March 2008, by Chris Gill

It is really cold out here at the moment, but stubbornly sunny (we want powder!); Tuesday’s promised snowfall was disappointingly meagre.

After light flurries early on Wednesday, the skies cleared and the temperatures rose to a numbing minus 20 degrees C at 3000m, with wind-chill making it feel like minus 40; no kidding. Exposed flesh was nipped in minutes. This is a dramatic change from Sunday and Monday’s warm temperatures, when we enjoyed lunch on the terrace of the Alphitta restaurant just below Riffelalp - it felt more like April.

I have skied so many different types of snow in the last four days: fresh, hard-pack, scraped, icy, spring slush - and the most awful sugary, artificial stuff you can imagine. That last one sums up the home runs - and is the only reason they are still open.

But snow cover is surprisingly good overall, especially above 1800m. We have enjoyed decent skiing across the whole area - including easy cruising runs above Cervinia, over the border in Italy. The long red run toward Valtournenche was really quiet and fast. But today’s cold weather meant the high-altitude link didn’t open.

As well as famously terrific scenery, Zermatt majors on longs run. On Tuesday I stood at 3883m, gazing at a 360 degree panorama of Alpine summits and poised for a continuous descent to the valley - no lifts needed, just lots of stamina. (In fact, all three sectors offer good vertical.) At the end of Wednesday, I am thawing out from a chilly end-to-end traverse of the linked sectors - much more appealing now that two new lifts form a fast link at Findeln.

Apparently, Thursday is forecast to be…VERY cold (colder than today!) and sunny.

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