The Trek+ Italy-Switzerland Interreg project entered its first phase in the Carrel Hut on 17 July 2020. The project partners are the local councils in Valtournenche and Zermatt, whose mayors (Jean Antoine Maquignaz and Romy Biner-Hauser) signed a symbolic agreement.
The aim of the cross-border cooperation between the two communities at the foot of the Matterhorn is to raise more awareness of the incredible natural and cultural assets of the area and increase their appeal. A range of measures are being planned. One example is to develop new tourism packages for the Alpine region to attract new target groups. Summer activities will be designed for a broad international clientèle who want to get to know and love the Alpine regions. These will include activities on foot, mountain bike and skis, as well as by cable car, when the new route opens up between the Klein Matterhorn and Testa Grigia in 2021.
The first measure is to renovate the Carrel Hut. A new floor and flooring, and improved insulation will make stays here more comfortable. New sanitation facilities will be built and the wastewater recovery system will be completely renovated, with drinking water being fully recycled; this is all part of using resources more sustainably. The first step is to improve the helicopter landing pad, to ensure access while work is ongoing and increase safety for rescue flights.
Both mountain guide associations and communities will also sign a code of ethics. This aims to improve the safety of Matterhorn ascents and sets out guidelines instead of issuing bans and orders. The code will protect both the Matterhorn’s image and mountain climbers’ lives.
The third initiative is to create an ultra trail race around the Matterhorn; this is scheduled to take place in 2021. This will be an event symbolizing the unity between the two communities and their shared passion for mountain sports. Details of the trail ultra will be released shortly: “We want to offer all runners an unforgettable race experience that is completely safe,” said Valtournenche councillor, Chantal Vuillermoz.
“Seeing an Italian and a Swiss community working so closely together, putting aside any thoughts of competition to benefit their mutual interests, sends an important message about peace and overcoming borders in this difficult year and sets our eyes on the future,” said Mayor of Zermatt, Romy Biny-Hauser.
As part of the European programme Interreg Italy-Switzerland and the new regional policy, this project will be 50% financed on the Swiss side by the canton of Valais and the government. It is due to run for three years.