10.30.2010

Bettmeralp, The Better Alp (so they say)

Today is a beautiful day  with crystal clear skies and we are both excited and full of anticipation for our trip up the mountain.  We have to take a short 15 minute train ride on the Matterhorn Gottard Bahn, a privately run railway to get to Betten, which is where we will connect with the cable car. 


We were advised at the train station that we won't be able to see the glacier, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. (WHAA WHAA! )The cable car that goes to the summit of the Bettmerhorn from Bettmeralp is now closed until the ski season opens in December. I am dissapointed, but still looking forward to the cable car ride itself to Bettmeralp. I guess we will have to come back sometime so we can see the glacier. Hopefully, it will not be gone by the time I am able to return.
video

The cable car will take us from a height of 814 metres above sea level, up the mountain to Bettmeralp, 'the Better Alp' as they call it here at just under two thousand meters.

We get our tickets and board the cable car. It is quite large and open with floor to ceiling windows all around and space for 50 people. This being the off season, there are only about ten of us aboard which is great for picture taking and shooting video.

Before we realize it the doors have closed and the smooth ride has begun. It is breathtaking and an experience that I won't soon forget. It is strange to see where the trees change from green to white as you reach the snow line, then the trees vanish all together as you near the summit. Stranger still to see a wall of white clouds swallowing up the cables that we are hanging from and only imagining what is on the other side. 

Looking down, I see rooftops of chalets hundreds of metres below. Looking out I am surrounded by stunnning rocky mountaintops. I feel like I am goig to burst, I'm so excited and scared, in a good way. Suddenly we come out the other side of the clouds and are very near the end of the ride, there are chalet's everywhere and everything is white with fresh snow.



It all looks just like one would expect, having seen mountains on film and television hundreds of times, but is a thousand times more beautiful to see it with my own eyes.

We step off the cable car and into a world of peaceful quiet. It is so quiet you could hear a pin drop, I'm sure. The odd small truck passes with workers who are doing off season repairs, but otherwise the place is deserted. Most chalet's have their shutters closed. Businesses have signs posted advising that they are closed until mid-December. I feel like I'm in some new Swiss remake of The Shining.

After a couple of hours, we head back to the cable car station. As we approach we see a huge cloud move in and within seconds we are literally inside a cloud, the air is very moist and refreshing. We get on the cable car for the descent. It is just as thrilling going down as it was going up. I would love to experience this again sometime. Maybe one day we will take up skiing!

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