As Zermatt sees its first flakes of snow start to fall, pop-folk band Wintershome begin to set their instruments to one side on a more regular basis. The mountain village at the foot of the Matterhorn is their home, winter is their passion, and it is in nature that they find the inspiration for their songs. They spend every free moment in Europe’s most elevated skiing region, enjoying the varied slopes and long downhill sections that it has to offer.
The winter village of Zermatt
Zermatt can be found at the foot of the Matterhorn, surrounded by majestic mountain peaks. The car-free mountain village is a real paradise for fans of winter. Slopes where snow is guaranteed, modern ski lifts and endless descents mean you can be sure of unforgettable adventures in the snow.
At home in Winter
For anyone who grows up in Zermatt, there’s no getting away from skiing. And this is particularly the case when your father and uncle is Pirmin Zurbriggen. He was one of the outstanding athletes in alpine skiing in the 1980s and, with 40 World Cup victories under his belt, is one of the most successful ski racers of all time. His children, on the other hand, decided early on against a career in skiing – and opted to chase another passion instead: music.
From an early age, siblings Elia, Maria and Pirmin Junior, and their cousins Romaine and Joel, played music together at family celebrations. It was over Christmas in 2012 when the occasional music-making turned into something more, and the band was formed. They were all gifted a small instrument as a symbol of their music. Their parents also gave them a small band room, with just enough space for a drum kit. They started with covers, and were soon writing their own songs. In 2018, the band released their first album, and for anyone who hadn’t realised already, it was now clear to the Swiss music world that this family band from Valais meant business. After a long break, a concert in the summer of 2022 rekindled the fire. It was clear to them all that they wanted to carry on with it.
No sooner said than done: they released singles in spring of 2023, followed by their second album “Below Zero” in autumn of 2023. The songs are profound. They question the innermost and deepest parts of the soul, and reflect on individual destinies and the meaning of life. But who out of the five band members writes the songs? “Someone comes up with an idea, whether that’s to do with the vocals, guitar or lyrics. Then everyone gives their input and we finalise the song together. That’s what sets us and apart makes our music versatile,” says Romaine in answer to this question. Another defining feature is that all five of the band members sing.
"We’re known for polyphonic singing and harmonising our voices."
Maria Mazzone, lead vocals for Wintershome
The band name is a tribute to their homeland and to their passion for winter and skiing. When they make music together, they forget everything around them. Just like when strolling through nature, they can let their minds wander and are entirely in the moment. “When we make music, we allow life to happen,” Romaine says. This can also be felt in their music: the soft sounds come across as folky, and the catchy melodies and voices carry a certain tranquillity.
The skiing paradise of Zermatt
Surrounded by majestic mountains, snow and glaciers, the five band members feel right at home. Feeling the icy wind on their skin, looking out over the snow-covered mountains and with skis on their feet – this is their world. But winter is much more than just a season. It is their refuge, a chance to unwind, and the inspiration behind their songs. The sparkle in their eyes when they talk about Zermatt and skiing leaves no doubt about that.
It’s no surprise that they spend every moment of their free time on skis. The skiing opportunities in Zermatt are many, with around 200 kilometres of slopes just waiting to be discovered across the three sectors of Sunnegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat and the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. From adrenaline-packed descents on the black slopes with a gradient of more than 60% to leisurely slopes boasting unparalleled views, the right slope for everyone can be found right here. Thanks to the large selection on offer, variety is guaranteed.
"Here, you can ski all day without using the same slope twice."
The band and their favourite slopes
For Romaine, the most beautiful slope is number 28, known as “White Hare”. What makes this particularly special is that their grandfather is said to have given the slope its name. The long red slope from Hohtälli upper station leads skiers over exhilarating downhill sections, punctuated with good turns. Pirmin likes things to be challenging. His favourite slope is number 8, “Obere National”. This black slope reaches a maximum gradient of around 61% and really puts your legs to the test.
The ski area would not be as well known and popular if it didn’t offer something for everyone. Alongside the challenging steep slopes, winter sports enthusiasts will also find slopes that are very slow, relaxed and easy to tackle. The “Slow Slopes” – which are marked as such – are particularly suitable for beginners, as well as those skiers who don’t feel the need to do things in a hurry. Here, everyone can go at their own pace undisturbed.
The crowning glory of a successful day’s skiing is the downhill run to the valley. From Europe’s highest cable car station, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise at around 3,883 metres up, this is particularly long. A difference in altitude of no less than 2,263 can be covered without interruption. If you like to take things at a somewhat more leisurely pace, take Maria’s advice. For her, the most beautiful slope is number 14, known as “Kumme”. This blue slope leads gently down from the Rothorn to the Kumme. For the downhill run down to the valley, skiers then follow slopes 15, 9 and 2 to the edge of the village.
An early start to the season in November
It’s not only its size that makes this ski area so impressive. The season is also particularly long here: as long as the snow situation allows for it, the winter fairy tale on the slopes begins from as early as November and carries on until the beginning of May.
Gourmet indulgence in the mountains
Nothing makes you hungrier than a day spent in the fresh air. Replenish your energy reserves in the diverse restaurants and ski huts that can be found along the ski slopes. The culinary offering here is an impressive one: alongside typically Swiss specialities, the mountain village also has the highest concentration of gourmet restaurants in the world.
Ski World Cup season opener
The Ski World Cup will kick off with the “Gran Becca” course in November. With its start at an altitude of around 3,800 metres, it is the highest of all the world cup races. The athletes cover a distance of 3.7 kilometres and a difference in altitude of 885 metres, reaching maximum speeds of around 135 km/h. For those spectating, the “Gran Becca” is particularly appealing, even beyond the fact that it is situated against a unique natural backdrop amidst several 4,000m peaks. Since around two thirds of the entire course is visible from the finishing area. A highlight like no other for ski fans!
Source : myswitzerland.com
Photos: © Switzerland Tourism
Publication: November 2023