Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My amazing xmas snowboarding holiday in Zermatt

Zermatt has a reputation for being one of the more expensive resorts in Europe and it's a bit of a mission just getting there but the effort and cost is more than worth it just for the freeriding alone.

This was my first ski holiday trip to Zermatt and to be honest I always presumed it was beyond my meagre budget but after a lot of research and a little luck I managed to find some decent accommodation and and a cheap flight and the trip was on.  I booked my snowbboarding holiday with Interactive Resorts - a specialist ski-company here in London.

The pistes are split up into three main areas

* Gornergrat (great for beginners)
* Rothorn (good intermediate slopes)
* Matterhorn Paradise (the best of the lot)

I tried all three areas but enjoyed the Matterhorn Paradise the most. The ride up in the gondola to the peak at 3883m was breathtaking each time I made it and the restaurant at the top provided some pretty decent sustenance on a few occasions. Your options at the top include heading to the glacier via a red run that's not too steep, down to the park in Furggsattel which is always in pristine condition, or just head all the way straight down. If you head for the glacier be careful going off piste as there are plenty of snow covered crevasses.


The park in Furggsattel is pretty good and getting there from the village is simple enough on the 6 person chair or board down to it after the gondola ride to the top. I've heard that the park changes up a bit but when we were there they had a halfpipe and two separate rail and kicker lines and quite a few other features. Pretty good for a day of freestyling.

This is where Zermatt really gets the name of being a top snowboarding destination. There are 38km of official freeride routes and of course more for the adventurous. This is what made my holiday for me. Steep off piste, couloirs, and lots and lots of bowls. Seriously good freeriding.

I enjoyed the Matterhorn Paradise but that was before I hit the freeriding routes in Stockhorn and Schwarzsee.

Apr├Ęs-ski in the Resort

Apparently there are over 50 bars in the area and after trying a few I settled on Papperla Pub as the watering hole of choice. It's a more down to earth kind of bar with a young crowd and not so many of the hob nobbing rich folk you find in some of the other bars. It's open late as are all the others and being in a ski resort, it gets a little wild, which is exactly what you need after a day of freeriding.

GramPi’s Pub was another we liked but it was little too much like being at home when on holiday.

Zermatt Accommodation - Where we stayed..

We stayed in the Alpenstern Hotel which is really a 10 room B&B. It was pretty good for the price and fairly central, only 5 minutes walk to the funicular stations. They had a good breakfast buffet but to be honest we spent so much time out that all we really did was sleep and shower in the hotel. We met a lot of people who were paying way more than us for their hotels so I think we were pretty lucky to find reasonably priced accommodation.

Ski passes     CHF371 (for 6 days)
Hotel          CHF170 (per night 2 sharing)

We brought our own gear so no rentals and we ate at the cheaper cafes and restaurants around the resort. Nights out obviously really cut into the budget but were well worth it.

I was always aware that Zermatt was one of the great snowboarding destinations but I really didn't expect it to be as good as it was. I'm already planning a trip in April when I can hopefully take in the Zermatt Unplugged festival. Choose Zermatt for your snowboarding holiday and you won't be disappointed.

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