Gornergrat viewing platform: 360 views of 29 four-thousand-metre peaks including the Matterhorn

Arthur Wehrlin’s amusing chat

Story 93

The German actor and director Arthur Wehrlin published the book “Von der Bernina zum Matterhorn” (From the Bernina to the Matterhorn) in 1930. In it, he tells a story called “You live and learn” which focuses on the Gornergrat Railway and the arrogance of young people on the mountain. 

Arthur Wehrlin was once a well-known actor and theatre director in Hamburg. He had also worked as a travel writer, journalist, radio announcer and speaker. The exact origin of his book “Von der Bernina zum Matterhorn” is nowhere to be found. However, it was published on 1 January 1930 and described in the newspaper “Le Rhône” in 1934 as “The Advertisement for Valais in Germany”. 

Excerpt from the book 

“When I was still a wild, young mountain enthusiast, I had to take a telling off by an old woman on the Gornergrat that I will never forget. It was the first time that I had been to this overwhelming place. I was appalled to see crowds of people arriving on the little train: with high heels, parasols and all the things a mountaineer just doesn’t want to see. 

“Shame on the whole country,” I shouted in a stroppy manner, “to desecrate such a great spot with a railway so that every valley bug can slide up here for a few francs.” 

I wanted to keep talking, but I felt something tugging at my clothes. I looked around and saw a small old lady, as old as the hills, smiling at me with infinitely kind eyes. She said:

Young man, you obviously believe the whole world belongs to you because you are young and full of strength. But do you not think it wonderful that an old woman of eighty years, who, if she had had to rely on her strength, would certainly never have come up here, that someone who is otherwise excluded from the beauties of the mountains should be able to enjoy these glories of creation?

"And, after all, it is questionable,” she added mischievously, “that God created all the beauty of the earth just for the young. What do you think, young man?” 

Everyone around us shook the old woman’s hand, touched, and I disappeared around the corner in shame. 

About the hike 

In 2023, 93 years later, the route is still very popular and recommended by Switzerland Tourism. On the route from the Upper Valais via the canton of Uri to Graubünden on the Glacier Express, travellers can no doubt look forward to some fun discussions today, too. 

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