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Gone with the wind — thanks, Air Zermatt!

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Travel blogging is hard work. This is common knowledge. And sometimes it’s even enough to make you “go ballistic.” Like when Switzerland’s Zermatt Tourism wants us to try heli skiing…

Do not envy us travel bloggers – please. Blogging takes all kinds of effort. Honestly, it is no fun! Really. Complete disaster, it’s true!

That no one believes us is the fault, among others, of committed tourism experts like Corinne Ulrich at Zermatt Tourism. And the weather gods. Taking advantage of a get-together of travel bloggers and Instagrammers, Corinne seizes the chance to put the excellent weather and the destination entrusted to her in the best possible light.

Normally she would commandeer two gondolas or two electromobiles to transport a group like ours, but because she wants us to experience heli skiing on the Rothorn, without further ado, she orders two Air Zermatt helicopters!

Wow! Every so often even we travel bloggers get a break ;-)

Air Zermatt heliport

Hitching a ride on village public transportation, we adventure seekers take the bus a couple of stations down valley to a nondescript blue Air Zermatt cargo elevator. We take it up to the Air Zermatt heliport. It is early morning and all is quiet and empty on it except for a single helicopter squatting off to one side, but looking anything but ready to transport anyone anywhere any time soon.

We act like we do this every day and just stand there with our cameras looking professional. And since there is a bright, thick red line painted on the helipad’s surface, we make sure to plant ourselves well behind it. Can’t do any harm.

The quiet before the storm

Next thing we know, a cool type dressed as if ready for duty on an aircraft carrier deck shows up. And then another one. And another. All three have on identical red down jackets and white helmets. Other than this opening act, it is still nice and quiet here – and mostly empty.

The crew stand there in a circle, casually chatting. Lookin’ good, gentlemen.

We professionals look at each other, not quite sure of what is happening, and take a few snapshots. After all, there is the Matterhorn emerging behind the heliport as the day brightens.

Elevator to the Air Zermatt heliport

Cargo elevator for equipment and people

Heliport with Matterhorn in the distance

“Deserted” heliport with Matterhorn in the distance

Oliver Fuchs with Air Zermatt helicopter

Oliver Fuchs with Air Zermatt helicopter

Oliver Fuchs with his crew on the tarmac

The crew

Oliver Fuchs keeping an eye on the arriving Eurocopter

Oliver Fuchs keeping an eye on the arriving Eurocopter

But then! There’s no mistaking it!

In the distance, we make out a low thudding noise. It grows louder and louder until two roaring, clattering helos approach and set their runners gently down on the heliport.

Suddenly, all hell breaks loose with a flurry of activity:
Unload guests and baggage;
load up travel bloggers and cameras;
put on the seat harness and pull it snug;
put on headphone, adjust mike.

Before you know it, we take off and rise into the Zermatt sky!

Via Weisshorn and Matterhorn to Rothorn heli skiing

Practically laying the choppers over on their sides in a rolling bank, the helicopters with their filming freight fly over the maintenance depot and chopper up to the spectacular Weisshorn with its Weisshorn lodge. In the next long right banking turn, the Matterhorn majestically heaves into view. Expertly done…

And a few moment later, as the Rothorn comes into view through the chin bubble we get set to jump out.

Well, ok, it was not that dramatic as it turned out, because the helos land soft as butter in the snow and we climb down quite normally, like we were getting out of the back seat of a limousine –  only to be met by an icy nor’easter blowing over Rothorn’s peak while enduring the rotor’s ear-splitting racket and the snow that it whips into our eyes.

Roughing it…

Up here, too, the unloading and loading are done in a great hurry. My grey camera backpack describes a high arc through the air before landing roughly in the snow. That hour flight time in the helicopter won’t come all that cheap…

And then we had best duck once again and cover our eyes and ears as best we can in our bulky gear while holding our breath: Scattering snow and making big noise, the fire-engine red Air Zermatt thunderbird HB-ZAZ lifts off and does an even more daring sideways rolling bank before heading down into the valley.

All that remains is the howling wind and a passel of bewildered travel bloggers and Instagrammers. It actually takes us a few moments to pull ourselves together and get our cameras to focus.

Now that was some action!

For a better video flight: Bump up the volume!

 

 

Instagrammer Nicole Hunziker in Eurocopter on a joy ride

Instagrammer Nicole Hunziker on a joy ride

Travel blogger Walter Schaerer in the helicopter

Travel blogger Walter hard at “work”

Walter Schaerer in the Eurocopter of Air Zermatt

Walter in the co-pilot’s seat checking on Katja

The Matterhorn seen from the helicopter

The Matterhorn seen from the helicopter

Two Air Zermatt helicopters on Rothorn

A brace of Air Zermatt choppers on Rothorn

Helicopter parked on Rothorn

Helicopter parked on Rothorn

Air Zermatt helicopter takes off from Rothorn

Air Zermatt takes off from Rothorn

Katja and Nicole hunking down as the helicopter takes off

Katja and Nicole hunker down as the helo takes off

Rothorn peak with Matterhorn in the distance

Rothorn peak with Matterhorn in the distance

And because we came to really test EVERYTHING up here, travel blogger Sonja Hüsler with Instagrammers Rayana Gasparotto and Fabio Zingg join up with Nadine Rüdisühli and Corinne Ulrich, both of Zermatt Tourism, ready to take off downhill on skis, while travel bloggers Ellen Gromann and Katja with Instagrammer Nicole Hunziker and yours truly take the gondola back down into the valley to set out on foot on the winter hike to Fluhalp. What all there was to sing about will appear later in another article.

Phuh, please note, the blogger’s simple life is not that simple…!

And if anyone should accuse me of not even getting into the heli skiing, could it be you didn’t watch the video all the way to the end?

Warm thanks…

… to Corinne Ulrich and Zermatt Tourism for the invitation and organizing this extraordinary, unforgettable adventure trip!

A big thank you also to the Air Zermatt crew! You made our day!

And another thanks to our lively writer and photographer troop; it was fun being with you!

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About Author

Walter Schaerer’s extensive background in the travel industry, passionate enthusiasm for photography and a firm belief that luxury destinations can also be affordable; were some of the main factors that motivated him to create the travel blog travelmemo.com. In his day job Walter is an online marketing manager based out of Zurich, Switzerland.

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