Thanks for all the comments. Tony, I'm probably with the Alans and Gayle in wishing you well on the Matterhorn. We won't be joining you. I may reprint an article by Los and Sarah about their experience on it, for your edification / amusement.
I make no apology for posting a second picture of the mountain, a mirror image of which Paramount Pictures use in their logo. It has dominated my day. The photo was taken 1000 metres above Zermatt, from Höhbalmen, where the steep path from the Edelweiss hut pops out onto a flat area with fine views of the iconic mountain.
I'd started out at 8.30am after handshakes and goodbyes to my five trekking companions over the past week, who I'll probably never see again. I find such partings a little odd - sad in one way, but parting company enabled me to spend a day entirely on my own terms, stopping more frequently but spending longer on the hill. We will be in touch re photos etc, so it's not the last time we'll be in contact.
They were good company, and whilst at one level I felt I was in the company of men of far greater intellect than mine, on another level I felt as if I was on holiday with people like my children, who are a similar age to The Boys.
I should take this opportunity of wishing Andy well in his attempt in the next day or two to climb Mont Blanc.
I followed Dave's suggestion this morning and took a left turn at GramPi's, heading up the gorge in t-shirt and shorts to Edelweiss hut to enjoy a coffee overlooking the town.
Then up past nutcrackers, wheatears and several other small birds, to the fine viewpoint at Höhbalmen where I lingered a while before descending 350 metres on a fine belvedere path to Trift. This 45 minute section of path was very busy, but all the other paths I used today were virtually deserted.
This west side of the valley is free of ski rubbish and devoid of lifts. But it was noisy, with a helicopter delivering building supplies up and down the valley. Paragliders fluttered in the distance. Marmots played and a raven practised its acrobatics just above me.
I should have taken the route to the Rothornhutte shortly after passing the Trift Hotel, but I followed the signs to Wisshorn. The unsigned route via the path to the R hut would have been better, as it would have avoided the huge number of avalanche barriers I encountered on my ascent from about 2500 metres. Sheep with heavy permed coats were enjoying the shade of the barriers.
That was after a pleasant lunch stop overlooking Zermatt and with a fine view across the valley to the route of the Europaweg path, an idea that had not even been conceived at the time my map was published.
Once up the Wisshorn, the views were breathtaking, with no break in a 360 degree mountain panorama. As good as any views on the entire trip.
Today's weather was, in contrast to yesterday's, perfect. Blue skies, apart from a persistent afternoon cloud on the east face of the Matterhorn, made for very pleasant walking in t-shirt and shorts. It was a good move to gain height in the cool of the morning.
The 1300 metre descent to Zermatt was easy enough and took less than two and a half hours despite many stops. These were mainly to record some of the wonderful flowers that graced the path. I won't go into details now, but it was good to see a selection of orchids for the first time on this trip, including some very fragrant ones. There should be a slide show in due course.
It was good to reach the shade of the pines at around 2000 metres, though the path steepened as it descended through the woods.
It was hot in Zermatt when I got back soon after 4.30. I collected the gear not needed for today's walk from the expensive but luxurious Aristella Hotel and moved in to my 'cheap' (£47 B+B) room at the Tannenhof that I've used before.
Until now (luckily) our meals, apart from lunches, have been paid for by Jagged Globe. A wander around town revealed a cost of around £30-40 for a meal with a drink. For example, £20 for a basic pizza or rosti. So I spent a small amount in the Co-op on a fruity picnic and popped into GramPi's for a couple of beers (£8 for 66cl) where I wrote most of this whilst eating an ash tray full of peanuts.
It's an early start tomorrow - the 7.39 train takes about four hours to reach Geneva, where I hope to spend a few hours with cousin Alistair, who has recently set up home there, before returning to sunny Manchester for a shave.
And no nose bleeds on this trip! That's a blessing...
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