“Matterhorn is back” – train to zermatt runs again

With the end of the massive snowfall, the avalanche danger in the swiss alps has decreased. But there is no all-clear, as avalanche expert christine pielmeier said.

On wednesday, the sun shone in valais for the first time in days, avalanche services took the opportunity to inspect slopes from helicopters, trigger controlled avalanches on dangerous slopes and clear away masses of snow.

After hours of use of space vehicles, the railroad line to zermatt was cleared of snow masses: in the early evening, after two days, the first trains drove into the car-free village again.

Most of the 13.000 holidaymakers reacted calmly to the closure of the route and waited above all for the reopening of the ski slopes. For a few dozen who had to leave urgently, however, time was running out. After the hoped-for opening of the railroad line in the morning had to be postponed due to unexpectedly high snow mountains along the route, they relied on the air bridge.

At the heliport there were waiting times of up to an hour. The air zermatt with its small helicopters could only carry a few passengers at a time. There were waiting times of up to one hour, according to the tourist office.

The zermatt tourist board rejoiced on facebook this morning: "the matterhorn is back!" – the matterhorn is back. He posted a recent photo of the world-famous swiss mountain, which had been invisible for days in snow and fog. Restaurants had kept the stuck guests happy with melted cheese from a paper plate and schnapps from glasses from a board.

"Winter sports are starting again, some slopes are already secured and open again," said the marketing manager of zermatt tourism, janine imesch. In the afternoon, about 32 kilometers of slope were passable again, as sandra stockinger from the zermatt mountain railroads said. It was a small part of the 200 kilometers of slopes in the swiss part of the ski area on the border with italy.

Avalanches could be triggered both by fixed blasting devices and by dropping explosive charges into the slopes, explained avalanche expert pielmeier: "in some avalanche trains, there are blasting masts where a flap can be opened remotely from which an explosive charge is lowered into the slope or ejected," she said. "On other dangerous and inaccessible slopes, a gas mixture can be tongued."Gas was leaking through a tungsten pipe. The pressure wave releases the avalanche. "The best way is to create a detonation above the snow surface."

Apart from zermatt, other swiss vacation regions were also cut off, including the saas valley with saas-fee with around 2000 vacation guests. There, the authorities also used the good weather for avalanche blasting, as claudine perrothon of the tourism office said. The closure of the access road is not a novelty. "That can always happen," she said. The avalanche danger was not banished, only more relaxed than on previous days, he said.

Situation in italy also remains tense in some areas. In breuil-cervinia in the aosta valley, which is connected to the zermatt ski resort, 5000 residents and tourists were still stranded on wednesday morning. The access road was opened again in the afternoon.

There were no supply problems in zermatt and elsewhere. "Hotels and restaurants are well equipped, there are no shortages of food and drink," said imesch of zermatt tourism. "As a winter destination, we are always prepared for the fact that the railroad may not run due to weather conditions. We can hold out for a long time without supplies."