!!!Zermatt[{GoogleMap location='Zermatt'}]

by members of the [AirPano Team|Geography/About/Consortium/AirPano,_Team] that is a member of the [global-geography Consortium|Geography/About/Consortium]. \\

9 November 2012

with kind permission of [AirPano|http://www.AirPano.com]

Ranking traditional icons of Switzerland by their increasing size may
look like this: Swiss watch, Swiss knife, Swiss chocolate, Swiss cheese,
and Swiss bank. The largest icon of Switzerland — the Matterhorn
Mountain — caps the list.

We took pictures of the Matterhorn in 2010 when skiing with Dima
Moiseyenko in Zermatt. We had to fly to the mountain twice.

The first day we flew up very close to it, right to the base, and took
some standard landscape panoramas. While stitching the images that night
we realized that huge 4478-meter tall Matterhorn looked like a small
hill on our panoramas. And from a helicopter we saw an enormous giant
hovering over us. An amazing optical effect due, perhaps, to the
challenge of trying to fit the whole world on a small screen.

So we had to fly again the next day. This time our helicopter blades
were almost touching the mountain slope, which seemed to be taking all
the space around us. The wind at the slope was very strong: about 70 km
per hour. Our pilot, with great difficulty and quite reluctantly, held
the helicopter close to the mountain for several minutes, and then said:
"That's it. It's not safe here. I am leaving". And so he left. We hardly
had time to finish shooting.

[{Image src='01_The Matterhorn.jpg' caption='The Matterhorn' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='564'}]

Speaking of the Matterhorn, I made another personal discovery.

Upon my return to Moscow, I was going over panoramic shots taken close
by the mountain, and noticed a small hut snuggling on the Swiss-side
ledge of the Matterhorn. I looked it up on Google Maps — it was called
Solvay Hut. This refuge was built in 1915 at 4003-meter altitude. It can
fit about 10 people in case of emergency during summiting the mountain.
Another Google search revealed an image of the second hut (Rifugio
Carrel) on the Italian side. After that I was actually able to find it
on our panorama taken from the western side of the mountain.

By the way, Italians have a different name for the Matterhorn — Monte

And now let's turn to official facts.

Situated on the border of Switzerland and Italy, the Matterhorn is like
a pyramid in the center of Europe, with four triangular faces meeting at
its summit. Like any other pyramid (whether it be the famous pyramids in
Egypt or a bit less famous pyramidal structures in Mexico), the
Matterhorn Mountain is also full of mysteries and tragic stories.

In terms of altitude, the Matterhorn is the fifth among the Alpine
peaks, but the difficulty of a climb ranks it second to none. Its faces
are so deceptive, that even the most experienced climbers could not
ascend them until 1865; and the southern slope remained unconquered for
another 66 years.

[{Image src='02_The Matterhorn.jpg' caption='The Matterhorn' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='451'}]

Time after time results of those ascents were rather ambiguous. For
example, Edward Whymper (British) and his fellow climbers made the very
first successful ascent of the mountain. And as they began their
descent, rope broke and killed four of the brave pioneers. It's
interesting that the two mountain guides Peter Taugwalder father and
son, who survived this accident and the first ascent, were the
great-great and great-great-great grandfathers of our colleague Matthias
Taugwalder who provided couple of panoramas for this tour.

In 1933, three French climbers were first to finish one of the
Matterhorn routes, but they all died on the way back.

Hermann Perren, a mountaineer and a guide, became famous thanks to the
Matterhorn too. His goal was to ascend the mountain 150 times, but he
fell and died 10 ascents short of his goal.

Although all of the Matterhorn ridges and slopes have been climbed by
now, and guides take large tourist groups to the peak (which makes some
of the routes really crowded) — still about 10 to 15 people die climbing
the Matterhorn every year.

[{Image src='03_The Matterhorn.jpg' caption='The Matterhorn' alt='' width='900' popup='false' height='386'}]

The Matterhorn has its character. At least, that's what the residents of
the nearby town of Zermatt are sure of. They say that even the weather
in Switzerland, in this part of the country, depends on the mood of the
legendary mountain. When the sky is gloomy and the 4478-meter tall
Matterhorn peak is hidden behind the clouds: the mountain is out of
humor. When the Matterhorn wants to play a joke, it pretends to be
Vesuvius: clouds are covering up only part of the mountain making you
believe the peak is smoking, as if before eruption. But when "his
highness" is in a good mood: it is showing off, gleaming with its
glacier hat, as if inviting you to take an unforgettable picture of the

The town of Zermatt (situated at 1600 meters altitude) enjoys the
proximity of such a popular neighbor. Not only is it one of the most
popular ski resorts in Switzerland. It is, in fact, the tourist landmark
of Switzerland. It offers activities all year round. Even summer
activities, as one can guess, are related to vacationing in the
mountains. Zermatt even has a so-called sunrise train, which takes you
to the Matterhorn peak to witness the sunrise of unparalleled beauty.

The bordering country benefits from the mountain pretty much in the same
way. The southern slope of the Matterhorn is home to a small town called
Brueil Cervinia, an extremely popular ski resort in Italy located at
2006 meters above sea level. It does not need to compete with Zermatt.
They simply have to accept the fact that they share the mountain. That
is why both resorts have shared ski routes, tourist routes, and a great
number of tourists coming here for an active outdoor time and ski
tourism in the Alps.

...There is a saying: everyone, who sees the Matterhorn mountain, will
be successful and wealthy. Perhaps, this is the reason why Swiss banks
have so much money in their vaults. Come visit the Matterhorn, the famous
landmark of the nature of Switzerland, and who knows, the local saying
may just come true for you.

\\ \\
[12) Panoramas of Zermatt|Geography/Europe/Italy/Pictures/Panoramas_of_Zermatt]

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