From Montreux it was an easy train ride to Zermatt, which we visited just to see the Matterhorn. It was worth it. From Zermatt, which is pretty much a ski town, with all that entails, there's a “cog” train that chugs up the mountain to a few ski stops to Gornergrat, where you get a pretty much straight on view of the famous Matterhorn. That train leaves from the station right across the street from the main Zermatt station. The line is not part of the Swiss rail system, so neither the Eurail nor the Swiss Pass works for the 84CHF round trip fare, although with a Swiss Pass you get a 50 percent discount. Which is good, because the equivalent of about $90 USD for a round trip might sound a little much for some.
But, like I said, if you want these views, sometimes you gotta pay.
The Matterhorn is one of the last great mountains to be climbed. The first recorded ascent of its sheer sides was by the famed English mountaineer Edward Whymper in 1865. I first heard Whymper's name when we lived in Ecuador. He was also responsible for first ascents of many peaks of the Andes.
A little known fact: the south face of the mountain is actually in Italy.
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I made over 300 exposures both going up and down the mountain on the train. The sun was hitting only bits of the mountain by the time we got to the top, and there was a persistent cloud that seemed to have run onto the top of the mountain and stuck like a wad of cotton candy.
So, we never got to actually see the very top of the mountain. Nevertheless, it's quite a sight. Here are four of the 300 that I like.
I shot all these with my Nikon D800E with the 24-70 f/2.8 zoom lens at various exposures. Some of these were shot out of the moving train window. Only the third shot of the Matterhorn and her Alpen sisters was shot from the top of Gornergrat with the tripod.
All were shot with the white balance set for “sunny day” but found that I needed to warm them up slightly in Lightroom as they all turned out very blue in the pure raw format. Guess that's a function of the clarity of the air and the altitude. Gonergrat itself is at 3135 meters (10285 feet,) and the Matterhorn peak is at 4478 meters (14,692 feet.)
I developed many of these photos in black and white as well. You can see them here: The Matterhorn in Black and White.
You can see other photos of Switzerland, shot from other trains including the UNESCO World Heritage Bernina Express train, by clicking the link.
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