Guide to Skiing in Zermatt
Come to Zermatt to experience spectacular scenery and superb high-altitude skiing.
Surrounded by 38 summits above 4,000, Zermatt is Switzerland’s highest ski resort with slopes reaching an altitude of 3,883m. With its combination of reliable snow, magnificent scenery, excellent mountain restaurants and of course fantastic skiing, Zermatt is hard to beat.
The Ski Area
Zermatt’s 200 km ski area is made up of three linked sectors - Sunnegga-Blauherd-Rothorn, Gornergrat-Stockhorn and Trockener Steg-Schwarzee. Zermatt is also linked to the Italian resort of Cervinia and together they provide an impressive 360 km of terrain to explore.
The Sunnegga-Rothorn funicular is located around 10 minutes’ walk from the main railway station and delivers you up the mountain in three minutes. In the centre of the village is the Gornergrat cog railway train which takes you up to Gornergrat at 3,089 m in 33 minutes. From here you can experience the most beautiful mountain panoramas in the world.
At the other end of the resort is the Matterhorn Express lift which connects with the Matterhorn Glacier Ride, the world’s highest 3S cableway delivering passengers to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise station at 3,883 m. It is from here that you can ski over into Cervinia.
Best for Beginners
With nursery slopes spread across the mountain, Zermatt is not renowned as a resort for beginners. However, it is worth remembering that with the Wolli Card, children up to age nine travel free on all mountain lifts. A discounted beginners ski pass is also available which offers access to the Sunnegga-Blauherd beginner area.
The most popular place to learn to ski is the Sunnegga area, which is home to ‘Wolli’s Park’ with play zones and four magic carpets. Those progressing can ski the blue run down to Findeln or head over to Gornergrat/Riffelberg ski area where there are a series of rolling blue runs. Over on the glacier, there are a few scenic blue pistes that are worth skiing for the views alone as well as some easy reds to progress to. Realistically though, there are probably other resorts which are much better set-up for beginner skiers.
Best for Intermediates
Zermatt is an intermediate’s paradise with the majority of slopes classified as red. Among our favourites are White Hare from Hohtalli and Kelle from Gornergrat which both end up at Breitboden.
For Matterhorn views, the runs from Trockener Steg down to Furgg are unbeatable. On the Sunnegga side, the Tuftern run down from Rothorn to the Patrullarve chairlift is another fun run, although it can be icy first thing. From here you can ski back down to Zermatt, but it can be very slushy towards the end of the day. You can also ski all the way back to Zermatt from the Klein Matterhorn; a descent of 2,200 m making it the biggest on-piste vertical drop in the Alps.
If you cross the border at Testa Grigia, the fantastic Ventina run is an 11.5 km descent to Cervinia. You can also turn off to Valtournenche where you will find a whole host of exhilarating, wide open red runs.
Best for Experts
Whilst there are several black pistes, the National being a personal favourite, the main attraction for experts is the off-piste and yellow itineraries. The Stockhorn area is popular with pros, in particular, the Triftji run for mogul lovers. However, this area is usually not open until February due to snow cover, but is a great way to ski off-piste without the need for a guide - just make sure you stick to the marked route. Challenging itineraries can also be found on Schwarzsee and Rothorn.
For those who enjoy ski touring or heli-skiing, off-piste opportunities are extensive with a guide. There are also several mountain huts for overnight stays including the Monte Rosa and Schoenbiel huts.
Freestyle skiers and boarders can tackle the resort's fun park on the glacier which offers slopestyle and boardercross.
For keen skiers who like to be first on the perfectly prepared pistes, First Tracks is a must. Whilst other skiers are still tucked up in bed, you can be on the slopes long before the official opening time. From Trockener Steg, the piste control and rescue service will accompany you on your first descent. This is followed up with a lavish breakfast buffet at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise restaurant. To take part you need to register by 1 pm the day before.
If you’d rather ski by the light of the moon than as the sun rises then the Moonlight Descent is for you. Enjoy a traditional Swiss fondue before gliding down the deserted pistes under the starry sky. The event takes place on any night between the end of December and the beginning of April when there is a full moon.
To find out more about Zermatt take a look at our Ultimate Guide.