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Zermatt and the end of an age

On the train to Zermatt, and snow — at last, at last.

Zermatt was one of those towns that had a hold on me long before I arrived. Something about peaked roofs and the shadow of a mountain. And it came very close to my unrealistic expectations (which is rare); nothing was out of place.

The snow was exactly as it should have been; trees struggled and snapped under the weight of it. Houses defined snow-capped, and people took brooms and sticks to their balconies and eaves to brush away the snow.

And every third shop sold watches.

There are no cars in Zermatt, aside from funny little electric taxis. From time to time bells will sound and you turn to see a pair of horses coming up behind. It’s true, they’re probably more for our entertainment than anything else, but they pass so frequently that you fall for it.

And here it is, as so on the Toblerone box: the Matterhorn, the last great alpine peak to be conquered and, in that, the end of the golden age of alpinism. It’s a sad story, really, of the failure of patriots and death and death — but human sadness is nothing to that ancient peak. Even from the safety of the town you feel the lure of it. It’s little wonder it held so much fascination, and represented so much, to the people who attempted it.

So charming towns, to the point where your heart hurts.

And snow. Lovely, lovely, dear snow.



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