Who’s the Highest Person in Europe?

I suppose there are people higher than me right now in Europe, but nobody who is just stepping out of a lift is higher than me. Joined by local guide Amadé Perrig, I’m in a whiteout on top of the Little Matterhorn, looking at where the big Matterhorn would be on a nice day. We’re 12,740 feet above sea level, high above Zermatt — and higher than the lifts above Chamonix and the Jungfraujoch.

Amadé, who’s climbed the Matterhorn many times, spent his career promoting tourism in Zermatt, perhaps the ultimate Alpine resort. Even in a whiteout, he couldn’t help himself and broke out into a yodel. Of course, it’s a touristy show, but it’s also real. Amadé worked in a village farm with cows and goats, carrying milk down from the high Alps. He yodeled when his Alpine spirit was doing flip-flops then, and 60 years later, he still does.

I generally try to do my guidebook research when things are hopping and in season — but my timing is a bit off this visit, and I’m here in the downtime between skiing and hiking seasons. The high trails are snowed in, and lots of places (restaurants and activities) are closed. I’m scouting for a new episode about the best of the Swiss Alps, and I’m getting some great ideas for the crew — at the wrong time of year. I’ll be back in August, and maybe then I’ll actually see the Matterhorn. Stay tuned…

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