One of the most important improvements in Winter
2006/07 is the gondola lift from Furri
(Furi) to Riffelberg
As roaming through the skiing area is now possible counterclockwise the
lift has very much changed the character of the region. Before, good
skiers were forced to start at Rothorn and Stockhorn and finish the day
in the Matterhorn area if they wanted to do the whole area in a day
«Originally Zermatt was made to cross the area counterclockwise,
however, the officials did not recognize it!», I exclaim. Why?
Follow me and my Salomon Fastback 160 Snowboard
equipped with a light Flow
binding, through the skiing area. You will see that the
snow conditions are well fit for a round in this direction. At the end
of the day you will probably have a different attitude towards skiing.
You will reach exactly 100 km/h and unreel more than 10000 meters in altitude, of which about 4000 are mogul or ungroomed slopes.
in the morning: I'm waiting for the gates of the
Matterhorn Express to open. Officially this will be at 8:30, however,
there are already so many people waiting that the gates will open about
a quarter of an hour earlier. On this beautiful Good Friday morning
there is hardly any cloud to be seen above the Matterhorn area.
Yesterday evening I made up my mind to get up very early, leaving the
camera behind and taking the gps receiver instead, a Garmin geko 201
handheld, to meassure the maximum speed on untouched slopes.
There are more than 90 people in the first gondola for Klein
of which I am the first to leave the tunnel for the run
back to Zermatt. There is nobody underneath except for a snow cat
driver who honks the horn as I greet him on my way down, taking up
speed to the utmost extent. The inclination is not very long, so I only
manage to push the mark up to 96.7 km/h. 900 meters of altitude are
done when I steer the snowboard towards the gates of the Furggsattel
lift at Trockener Steg
The slope that follows the lift line is not of equal inclination. For
about 450 meters in altitude the surface seens to «roll»
downhill. When you try to take up a speed that is probably difficult to
master you should be sure that there is no one in the way. Mind this! And mind the snow conditions!
I reach a speed of 82.4, 87.7 and exactly 100
on the third pass. The receiver does not show decimal digits
at that speed. I have achieved my aim - there is no use in trying any
more. Too many people on the piste and too many tracks crossing. Time to change the scene.
By appointment, I meet my wife at Furgg at a quarter past ten. From
Trockener Steg down to Furri I unreel another 1050 meters in altitude.
This is where the Riffelbergbahn
becomes of invaluable worth.
It takes us directly up to Riffelberg where we change to the Gifthittli
chair lift. A quarter of an hour later we find ourselves at
the start of a slope called Kelle
, the direct connection to Gant
700 meters below. The Gondola at Gant has a capacity of 125 people
beaming them up to the top in eight minutes. From there we take the
gondola to Stockhorn
. The service has expired at the end of winter 2007. There is a skilift to Stockhorn nowadays.
There is no other picknick place in the whole skiing area that can
compare to this beautiful spot. Usually there is no wind around but the
scenery of many mountains higher than 4000 meters:
. At twelve o'clock I have already done 4000 meters in altitude.
Downhill from Stockhorn
to the Triftji skilift
from Rote Nase
means another 1700 meters on
mogul slopes or in deep snow. We make use of the Gant-Hohtälli
connection for three more times, going down the Mittelritz mogul slope
on standard and variant trails as well as the White Hare
, all in all 3150 meters in altitude.
We leave the Gornergrat region with the old lift to Blauherd, changing
immediately to Rothorn. It is late now and the slopes Schneehuhn
are closed. From the top of Rothorn you have the
choice between Tufternkumme
. Whatever you
choose will provide you with the missing 1150 meters in altitude as
well as additional 250 meters that are of statistical use only.
However, they contribute to the enormous length of this wonderful slope
down to town with the Olympia Stübli
facilities in the end.