Skiing from Zermatt to Cervinia

We’re on a family ski trip in Zermatt, and I made some notes to our friends to help us meet up for an afternoon of skiing and dining on the Italian side of the mountain.

You ascend toward Italy on the gondola that travels from Zermatt to Furi to Schwarzsee to Trockener Steg. At certain times there is an option of a tram that whisks you through the second leg of this journey, but our assessment is that once you’re o the gondola it’s easiest just to stay on.

When you arrive at the Trockener Steg building, you’ll stay to the left and walk to the Klein Matterhorn tram. It can be a long wait in the morning, with only 100 people per tram, complicated by the fact that European skiers have little hesitation in cutting in front of you, even when it’s clear that you’ve got a group moving toward the turnstiles together. Once you’ve shoved your way on board, you’ll travel to the top of the Klein Matterhorn mountain at 3883 metres. (They’re in the final stages of building a gondola on this route, which will dramatically cut the wait time.)

You get off the cable car and walk down a long, long tunnel to the Italian side of the mountain.

TAKE YOUR TIME ON THE TUNNEL WALK!!! This is the highest elevation in the resort and if you get short of breath you will need to sit down for 5 minutes. There is an exhibit halfway down the tunnel and there’s a coffee shop at the far end of the tunnel if you want to take it easy for a few minutes.

Once you are through the tunnel and on the Italian snow, you’re headed to Plateau Rosa (which is also known as Testa Grigia.)

You can pretty much follow everybody else down the first part. It’s a groomed intermediate run that starts as #85 and becomes #88.

At Testa Grigia there are three routes to Cervinia. The easier ski route is #6 to Plan Maison. It’s a long red (intermediate in Europe) groomed run. There’s the #7 “Ventina” run. It’s also a red run, but has a couple of steep pitches that can be intimidating. And there’s the third option, which is to download from Testa Grigia on the gondola to the Plan Maison area.

If you choose to take route #7, we’ve had a couple of great lunches at Igloo Cervinia. The menu is more “mountain” than Italian, although there is always a pasta of the day. There’s a lot of grilled meat with potatoes and an exceptional goulash that seems a perfect fit as you sit on a warm blanket on the sundeck.

To get to Igloo from Plateau Rosa, continue down the Ventina / #7 route for several minutes, the giant snowmaking lake will come into view. From the perspective of the skier, the run wraps around the left side of the lake. (Right side of the lake as viewed on the map below.)

Just after you pass the lake there is a Y intersection with Route #13. Stay to the right on Route 7 and look to the right for the Igloo restaurant. DO NOT OVERSHOOT after the #13 junction. It is a solid 40 minute return trip if you miss the restaurant.

After lunch, you’ll continue down the #7 piste to the gondola (telecabin) that connects you to Plan Maison. From there, you can return to the snow and take three chairlifts back to Zermatt, or stay inside the Plan Maison building and ride a second gondola to Plateau Rosa for your Zermatt return.


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