“I’ve never ridden a mountain bike down a glacier before.”
I hear myself say the words as we roll our rides into a gondola in the resort of Breuil-Cervinia, the third gondola of the past 25 minutes and the final en route to Plateau Rosa, or the Theodul Glacier, 11,417ft above sea level on the Italian side of the Matterhorn.
It sounds ridiculous coming from my lips. And our travelling companions in the gondola don’t do anything to relieve the surreal nature of the circumstances either. We’re the only two in the cable car wearing anything other than ski salopettes, despite the fact it’s July and 30 degrees.
We’re greeted with a blast of mountain air when we step out of the gondola at 3,480m. Having started our journey in Italy, we’re actually now standing on Swiss soil – or snow, as it happens – on the edge of the border between the Aosta Valley and the Swiss side of the Pennine Alps.
Snow-speckled mountain tops as far as the eye can see lead round to the stunning mass that is the Matterhorn, or Monte Cervino as it’s known in Italy. The sun gleams brightly on our backs.