Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Saturday, 8 September 2018

'Summer in the Alps' - Day 45 - Zermatt - A Visit to Täschhütte and Weingartensee

Saturday 8 September 2018

The sun returned today. All day. There were just a few wisps of afternoon cloud skirmishing with some of the higher peaks.

We took the Sunnegga train/lift at about 9 am. It was frosty in the shade up at 2200 metres. Sue tried to get some artistic images.

As usual we left the crowds to huddle around the vicinity of an easy journey back to Zermatt. There was hardly anybody on the lovely belvedere path that hugs the 2200 to 2350 metre contours all the way to Täschalp, some 8 km from Sunnegga. Just a couple of walkers, a mountain biker and a runner. 

We eschewed the attractions of Tufteren soon after starting out, but after those 8 km of superb paths we couldn't resist pausing for coffees (in mugs!) and apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce at the Europaweg Hütte in Täschalp. En route we enjoyed magnificent views back to the Matterhorn, and we passed an area where rockfall is clearly a problem. There were lots of warning signs, and three small bunkers in which to hide. I wonder whether the protection on the path (which is the 'Walker's Haute Route' trail) further north has improved since I was last there in about 2006.

A few other people were enjoying a break at the Europaweg Hütte. I have a feeling it's on the Tour of Monte Rosa route as well as the Haute Route.

We left them to luxuriate in the sunshine and headed on up to Täschhütte, a 500 metre climb past edelweiss and grasshoppers. Lunch was on a bench near the hut, after we'd taken some 'Project 1949' photos. The hut has been extended since then.

The weather was so good that we decided to continue by way of Weingartensee, a lake at 3058 metres. The signpost for this pointed directly up an apparently pathless hill, but before heading off at 90° to the sign we thought we'd better check with the guardian.

"Oh, there was a big party here last night and they licked all the salt of the signpost and it's now pointing in the wrong direction. I must see to that" she said. 

A partying herd of Valais blackneck two tone goats was responsible. The punishment, if the culprits are ever found, will be severe. Also in this area are herds of Valais black nose sheep. They are rather cute and very tame. Apparently they are a delicacy. Whilst we were out today, a big celebration was taking place in Zermatt, where one such juicy specimen has been crowned 'Miss Zermatt 2018'. We were sorry to miss the party.

The path beyond Täschhütte was great, after an initial section that was uncomfortably vertiginous. We climbed a further 500 metres past the yellow flowers of Grey Alpine Groundsel to around 3200 metres. Here the path signs changed from yellow to blue. We soon decided that 'blue' means more difficult. Our pace slowed dramatically as we slowly made our way across a field of huge boulders. After some time the route - marked by small cairns and by painted waymarks, there was no path in the normal sense of the word - avoided an obvious but very bouldery descent route and headed up to another minor col. From here we could see the attractively named Weingartensee lake. It was nearly empty and looked more like a giant farmyard full of slurry. Sue thought it looked as if someone had stolen the plug. There would be no magical reflections of the Matterhorn or any other mountain in that today.

By way of compensation, our views to the nearby mountains were stunning, with the snow draped summits sitting below a deep vermillion backdrop. Täschhorn (4491 metres) was dominant. It looked very inaccessible.

Täschalp could be seen far below. It was a steep 900 metre descent to get there. We lost the marked route (path it was not) at one point and had to backtrack. Soon after that the route evolved into a discernable path that descended steeply via the top of a glacial moraine wall.

We made it back down to Täschalp by 5.15 and then, after a final tea and biscuits break, took a lovely scenic path directly to Täsch. A train at 6.30 returned us to base in a carriage full of stony faced tourists who were wrapped in winter coats and looked as if they would rather be anywhere but here. We must have looked out of place in our t-shirts and shorts and wide grins after a classic day out in perfect weather.

Stats:
We walked just over 22 km, with 1200 metres ascent and 1800 metres descent.

Today's pictures:
The Matterhorn from Sunnegga
Looking back on the path to Täschalp
Approaching Täschalp
Täschhütte
Weingartensee

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