You can almost sense the anticipation on the train from Täsch: couples gaze wistfully out of the window, kids fidget and stuff in Toblerone, folk rummage for their cameras. And then, as they arrive in Zermatt, all give little whoops of joy at the pop-up book effect of one-of-a-kind Matterhorn (4478m). Trigonometry at its finest, topographic perfection, a bloody beautiful mountain – call it what you will, Matterhorn is hypnotic. Like a shark’s fin it rises above the town, like an egotistical celebrity it squeezes into every snapshot, like a diva it has moods swinging from pretty and pink to dark and mysterious.
Since the mid-19th century, Zermatt has starred among Switzerland’s glitziest resorts. Today it attracts intrepid mountaineers and hikers, skiers who cruise at snail’s pace spellbound by the scenery, and style-conscious darlings flashing designer togs in the lounge bars. But all are smitten with the Matterhorn, an unfathomable monolith you can’t quite stop looking at.