Zermatt Lifts & Terrain


Zermatt Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
    Zermatt Ski Trail Map
  • Zermatt Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    Zermatt only
    1,620m - 3,899m (2,279m)
    Matterhorn Ski Paradise
    (Zermatt, Cervinia & Valtournenche)
    1,524m - 3,899m (2,375m)
  • Average Snowfall
  • Lifts - Winter (62)
    Including Cervinia
    22 Gondolas/cable cars/trains
    21 Chairs

    Rest of year - 6 lifts for skiing
  • Opening Dates & Times
    Winter - Nov to early May
    8:30am to 5:00pm

    Spring/Summer - May to end Oct
    8:00am to 2:00pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs - 360km incl. Cervinia
    Longest run - 20km
    Advanced - 18%
    Intermediate - 60%
    Beginner - 22%

    Summer terrain:
    26.5km incl. Cervinia
  • Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 21/22
    Zermatt only (Winter)
    Adult - CHF79
    Child - CHF40
    Child u/9yr - Free

    Zermatt incl. Cervinia (Winter)
    Adult - CHF92
    Child - CHF46
    Child u/9yr - Free

    Spring/Summer Skiing 2021
    Adult - CHF88
    Child - CHF44
    Child u/9yr - Free
    Matterhorn Ski Paradise (Zermatt Cervinia Valtournenche Ski Trail Map
  • Matterhorn Ski Paradise Map
    Zermatt Summer Ski Trail Map
  • Zermatt Summer Ski Map

Zermatt ski resort is world renowned for very good reason. Skiing here will see you in a resort with lifts & terrain second to nowhere else on the globe.

Zermatt Skiing & Snowboarding

Aside from the jaw dropping, eye catching scenery, the three main features of Zermatt skiing and snowboarding are the sheer magnitude of the ski slopes, the diversity of the lifts & the massive skiable vertical from some of the highest piste trails in Europe.

Zermatt ski resort includes 210km of marked piste trails over 2,200m of skiable vertical, multiple marked ski routes, huge amounts of off-piste terrain and 34 modern lifts which include every type of uphill conveyance from trains, funiculars, cable cars, gondolas, chairlifts and multiple surface tows on the ever-moving glaciers. Combined with sensational Cervinia, the statistics nearly double.

Zermatt Skiing Highlights

The Zermatt skiing highlights are a rite of passage according to Powderhounds. They are only to be undertaken when there is no powder because skiing powder ALWAYS takes priority. Tick off the following when sliding around Zermatt.
  • For the ultimate early morning leg warmer, catch the first cable car up to Rothorn in mid-winter & watch the sun touch the Matterhorn before plunging into the shady, quiet trails all the way back down to Zermatt via Patrullarve.
  • With a few novice skiers, race the Gornergrat train down from the Kulm Gornergrat Hotel to Riffelberg. Try to not stare at the Matterhorn on the way down. An impossible challenge – the staring at the Matterhorn that is, not beating the train (that’s easy).
  • See the world’s most ridiculous elevator shaft by taking the Rote Nase cable car across from Hohtälli. Ski the fantastic freeride routes back to the valley.
  • Ski absolute top to bottom from the Klein Matterhorn via the glaciers, Furgg & Furi all the way into Zermatt – around 2200m vert & more kilometres than you want to know!
  • Head to Cervinia for the day & go all the way down to Valtournenche – a ski distance of around 22km. On the way back have lunch in a rifugio & realise how much you are getting over-charged for food in Switzerland!
  • Challenge yourself to ski the entire resort in a day (only for advanced riders due to a few steep pitches). Start on the Sunnegga funicular. Head up to Rothorn, then across to Hohtälli & the Rote Nase. Down to Eja & the take the chairlift up to Breitboden. Traverse to Riffelalp & take the train up to Gornergrat. Ski all the way to Furi via Riffelberg, then ride up to Klein Matterhorn via Trockener Steg. Ski down to Furgg, & then take the gondola up to Schwarzsee. Ski to Stafel for the final chair ride up to Hirli. Point it for the last 1150m vert descent into Zermatt – you choose the route! Phew.
  • At the end of a ski day, do the ultimate Zermatt après ski challenge. Starting at Riffelberg, stop at all the bars down to Zermatt for at least one drink. By our count, there should be a minimum of 7 stops. Good luck!

Ski Lifts

Unlike many ski resorts across the world that rest on their laurels once a lift system is in place, Zermatt has steadily modernised and replaced every one of it 'non-surface' lifts in the last 15 years. New high-capacity gondolas replacing the cable car from Trockener Steg up to Klein Matterhorn, and a new gondola up to the Rothorn are more recent changes. A brand-new cable car linking the top of Italy's Cervinia (Testa Grigia) to the Swiss Klein Matterhorn is already under way and due for completion in 2021. Other improvements are ongoing, including replacing old chairlifts and a cunning plan to link the Rote Nase to the Stockhorn by cable car, opening a huge area of freeride terrain.

Despite the general modernity of the lifts, the huge numbers of patrons can overwhelm the system on sunny powder days. Be prepared to wait at some locations during high season.

Snowboarders should note that the glaciers are largely served by surface tows. If you don't like getting dragged, take note of the trail map for alternatives. It is possible to avoid most of the surface lifts on the glaciers simply by doing long laps on the new gondola from Trockener Steg up to the top.

Weather has a major influence on the day-to-day lift operations at Zermatt. At higher elevations strong winds can become quite frustrating. During all the Powderhounds visits to the region, the upper glacier lifts & links between Zermatt & Cervinia were closed for several days in a row due to high winds. The winds can be quite localised, so anyone visiting Cervinia for the day should take careful note of the days weather & wind forecast to avoid the expensive problem of being stuck in the wrong country at the end of the day!

Lift Passes

For all the grandeur and infrastructure at Zermatt one does pay premium prices. A lift pass in Zermatt is amongst Europe's most expensive (actually, it IS the most expensive!). However, everything is relative. A standard Zermatt lift ticket is still only half what one might pay at a ticket window in Vail USA. Skiing the best resorts in Europe is cheap........... relatively!

Zermatt skiing by itself is big, but the terrain becomes gargantuan for a few extra francs or euro with the ‘International’ lift pass with Cervinia-Valtournenche in Italy. The combined ski area is called the Matterhorn Ski Paradise & offers up 360km of piste plus access to some superb Italian hospitality in a quieter ski area. Only buy the international if planning on heading to Cervinia for the day. Leave Zermatt early to make the most of it.

In summer lift pass prices increase for day passes, probably due to the minimal numbers of skiers on the slopes most days. If nothing else, it is a unique experience.

Ski Trail Maps

To the uninitiated, the Zermatt ski trail map is totally inadequate for the size and complexity of the terrain. Read signage carefully. On days of poor visibility stay to the main trails.

Some inaccuracies on these trail maps include the surface lifts on Stockhorn & the Rote Nase & the chairlift on the upper flanks of Rothorn no longer existing. Trails & routes do still exist though. Also, the terrain in some places, like along the chairlift running from Patrullarve up to Blauherd is forested & light trees for much of the pitch, unlike what is shown on the map.

Interconnected with Cervinia-Valtournenche

Zermatt skiing is big, but the terrain becomes gargantuan for a few extra francs or euro to get the interlinked lift pass with Cervinia-Valtournenche in Italy. Called the Matterhorn Ski Paradise, the combined ski area offers up 360km of piste & access to some superb Italian hospitality in a quieter ski area. One would be remiss in skiing Zermatt without at least heading to one of Cervinia’s rifugios for lunch!

See the full Matterhorn Ski Paradise trail map . It is totally inadequate for the immense size of the ski area, so as per above, pay careful attention to the signage.

Zermatt for Beginners

The best learn-to-ski areas in Zermatt are in ........... Cervinia! It is cheaper, sunnier, quieter & just more pleasant to learn to ski on Cervinia or Valtournenche nursery slopes than in Zermatt!

Having said that, there are two excellent learn to ski locations in Zermatt. One is just below Sunnegga (accessible via the Sunnegga funicular & then a small purpose-built gondola elevator). It is the more sheltered of the two areas. The second is at Riffelberg on the Gornergrat railway. The extensive beginner piste trails nearby & the ever-present Matterhorn overlooking the area make it a sensational place to learn to ski………. if the weather is nice. Therein lies the rub. There is nowhere for rank beginners other than high elevation areas. No beginner friendly valley trails exist & most of the blue piste trails are in highly exposed areas on Gornergrat or the glaciers. Beginners will need to download on a lift to return to the village. A damn shame!

Zermatt for Intermediates

The Zermatt ski resort piste is incredibly well geared towards intermediates. In fact, it could be said that all the piste trails are for intermediates. The supposed black runs are rather tame & with only a couple of exceptions are easily completed by even lower intermediates. Much of the ski and snowboard terrain is above 2,000m elevation, so the snow quality is generally superb to go with the long cruisy runs.

The off-piste is where the main fun is for advanced and expert riders. Like many other European ski resorts, you’ll get the most out of the off-piste terrain if you go with a guide & start early.

Zermatt skiing is across three main zones. The Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (Klein Matterhorn) area is the largest of the zones and includes a massive vertical drop of over 2,200m back to town. Access is via the Furi lifts at the southern end of the village. This area has largely north facing snow-sure slopes situated on glaciers. Snowboarders wanting to avoid the area's many surface tows can do so by doing long, long laps. The new gondola from Trockener Steg will improve turnaround times.

The Sunnegga-Rothorn zone has terrain for all ability levels, including some tree skiing. Overlooking the receding Findel Glacier, the area has some of the best mountain restaurants in Zermatt. Try out the deck at Chez Vrony for the best food or coffee at the Blue Lounge for the best views of the Matterhorn. Access is via the awful Sunnegga funicular on the eastern side of the village (we generally dislike funiculars, but thankfully this one tends only to be required once on a day unless the weather is bad.)

For Powderhounds, the Stockhorn-Rote Nase-Hohtälli zone is a standout with high elevation (3,532m), diverse terrain including intermediate cruising on one side and big vertical freeriding terrain on the other. Freeride terrain is accessed via the Hohtälli or Rote Nase cable cars. Best access to the zone is via the Gornergrat train near the main station in town.

Summer Skiing

Zermatt is one of only two ski resorts in the world with skiing every day. Over 21km (ish) of intermediate slopes are available on the glacier during the 'summer' season. Ironically, lift tickets for this limited terrain cost more than in winter!

For the Powderhound & Freeriders

Zermatt has some iconic powder skiing & freeride terrain. Our picks are the backside of Rothorn, the trees into Patrullarve from Blauherd, the area below the Rote Nase & Hohtälli. One of the sneakier powder riding areas is hiding in plain sight, tucked below the Matterhorn. The Hirli chairlift has some very peachy sliding with very few others sharing it. As for only terrain on a powder day, you’ll just have to search…….. or listen for my whooping & yipping!

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Zermatt’s Backcountry

The Zermatt backcountry terrain includes numerous glaciers & the slopes of the Monte Rosa massif. Epic long descents are possible including some classics from Saas Fee that come back into Zermatt. Much of it is most safely skied from late March into early May. If new to the area, we suggest getting a mountain guide if at all unsure about route finding.

Avalanche and crevasse danger often impact the ski resort & surrounding mountains. Recent heavy snow seasons saw extreme (category 5) avalanche conditions at times. Skiers & splitboarders need to be aware of the usual avalanche & crevasse hazards in the backcountry & off-piste.