Alpine Awe: Ice Skiing in Zermatt
Hit the ice on demanding black pistes with our heart-racing guide to ice skiing in Zermatt. In partnership with TAG Heuer, we’re taking on Switzerland's most notorious descents, then refuelling at modern mountain eateries and resting up at sheepskin-swaddled stays. So, sharpen your skis and grab your TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 – we’re entering the ice age.
22 February, 2022
In partnership with
Forget skiing on the freshies. Alpine speed zealots are eschewing off-piste adventures for icy black runs. Offering intense speeds - and little grip - there's no room for error on ice. But high-speed skiing isn't just for gold medal winners. In Zermatt, Europe's tallest peaks offer year-round opportunities to test your skills on difficult black runs glazed with the frozen stuff. The Swiss enclave inspires excellence, so if you've mastered Austria's Harakiri and cruised down France's infamous Champagne Run, join us on an exhilarating expedition along Zermatt's trickiest tracks.
Ice skiing requires precision and skill. It isn't about accessing impossible peaks or attempting to climb over insurmountable obstacles. Instead, you'll be encountering unforgiving terrain, using the icy patches that lead most skiers into a white-out to achieve faster times and slicker manoeuvres.
You'll need real mountain know-how to tackle these icy pistes. We'd also urge you to add TAG Heuer's Aquaracer Professional 200 luxury tool watch to your kit list. A sleek and sophisticated timepiece, it will both keep you on time and looking sharp as you attempt difficult descents. Ultra-durable and fit for all terrains, it's your perfect partner from summit to après-ski.
Check your bindings and hold your nerve. It's time to hit the ice.
Hard and fast: our ultimate ice skiing itinerary
Days 1-2: Zermatt
It's no secret that Zermatt's high-altitude peaks offer technically tricky pistes, but we're here to point you (with ski poles) to the ice-edged runs where the region's speed demons chase their thrills. Start your trip with a tranquil train ride from Geneva. Looping through the multi-faceted Swiss countryside, you'll appreciate the moment's meditation that the spectacular vistas offer.
Upon arrival, you'll head straight to the slopes in search of the steep, densely packed pistes that offer those elusive slippery conditions. Spring mornings in Zermatt are where it's at. That, or in the evening, when runs have been worn down by skiers to their hard, icy base. Test your ski edges on the Rothorn black, a short but challenging stretch on the Unterrothorn, before celebrating your triumphs at mecca of Swiss kitsch and molten cheese Whymper-Stube. Post-raclette, bed down in the spa suite at Cervo Mountain Resort's Huntsman chalet, a softly lit, cottagecore-influenced stay equipped with a wood-lined badewanne (bathtub) on the balcony.
On setting out the following day, slip between the gilet-clad locals and glossy chocolate-shop fronts on Bahnhofstrasse to grab buttery croissants at L'Atelier Grandsire in preparation for the icy Grünsee-to-Findeln run. Climb Hohtälli by cable car and T-bar to find fresh powder along the unpatrolled Triftji runs, then hit speed as you swing into Grünsee's cliff-skimming, ice-lined black territory. After making it back down in one piece, refuel on some well-earned prime ribs at Findlerhof.
Day 3: Riffelalp and Furi
Wake up early to switch your soft-luxe suite for out-and-out decadence at Riffelalp Resort 2222m. Located on a small plateau above the town, Europe's highest luxury hotel comes complete with all the clichés. Snow-capped spa? Unspoilt Matterhorn views? Trust us, it's worth the one-night splash-out. Up here, you're perfectly placed to access black piste No.62 in the early-morning freeze. Connecting Furgg to Furi, this hair-raising descent is notorious for its extended ice patches and spine-chilling valley drops. Keep ski edges sharp to survive this one upright.
Your Aquaracer's ever-reliable automatic movement is your ally here, keeping time as you focus on frictionless downhills in pursuit of an early-evening dinner reservation at Aroleid. Pick from a menu of revisited Swiss classics and biodynamic bins, and don't miss a post-prandial espresso. The restaurant serves coffee from the town's only (and excellent) roastery Zermatt Kaffee Rösterei. Keen to experience some sophisticated Swiss après-ski? Chink glasses inside Snowboat's teak interiors late into the frost-cut night.
Days 4-5: Cervinia
Until the Alpine X cable car opens later this year, the only way to reach the Italian snow-sure town of Cervinia is on the slopes. Ride Europe's highest T-bar to Gobba di Rollin, then take it easy skimming into Italy, stopping in at the rustic Rifugio Guide del Cervino for steaming-hot chestnuts with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
On this side of the mountains, the pyramidic Matterhorn is known as Monte Cervino. And it's not the only thing alpine Italians use to distinguish themselves from their neighbours. Come evening, you'll be switching chocolate-box cosiness for sleek, sharp design, concrete walls and moody lighting in the sheepskin-swaddled bedrooms of the Bergman Mountain Hotel. Get your bearings with a spin around Cervinia's natural ice rink, then stop by Birdy Bakery to pick up a box of signature Baci di Cervinia biscuits for on-the-slopes supplies. As night falls, duck into the candlelit Le Vieux Grenier to feast on homemade ravioli. Tomorrow, you're skiing with champions.
Up high on the Theodul Glacier is where the world's best hone their skills. This icy belt boasts the fastest pistes in the region, with powder packed hard on ancient ice between Toblerone mountains. Take your place alongside national teams to tackle the sharp terrain, then debrief over grappa shots at the father-and-son-run Lino's Bar back in town.
Day 6: The Final Descent
The final stop on your action-packed itinerary? The biggest on-piste vertical drop in the Alps. You'll take the cable car up to statuesque Klein Matterhorn's summit - perhaps with a quick peek into Europe highest ice cave - before clipping in for the 2,200m descent back to Zermatt, briefly returning to the icy surfaces of the Theodul Glacier and the difficult Furgg-to-Furi run as you pass from pristine white pistes into the treeline at the town's edge. Wandering up the Bahnhofstrasse to catch your ride home, swing into Fuchs Bistro and Bakery for a deep-fried cheese ball, then settle into your train seat on the return trip to Geneva. As you slip into tunnels beneath the mountains, take a glance at your TAG Heuer timepiece, whose hour and minute hands will seamlessly switch between soft illumination and their original jet-black colour, thanks to Super-LumiNova® technology. It's design at its most sophisticated, making this the perfect Swiss-engineered companion for an alpine adventure.
Tackle the ice hard and fast with your TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200, the ultimate luxury tool watch for adrenaline-fuelled adventures. Find your fit here.