Trekking in the Alps

In this section we present a chapter from the book "Per Alpes, Discovering the Alps in 20 circular walks". Read the tour description below and check other publications of the Alps Convention.

  • Piz Bernina tour
  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9
  • Day 10
  • Tourist info

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Route descriptions: The Bernina range, rising above 4000 metres, is amongst the most impressive mountain scenery in the Alps. Those who at least once in a lifetime set foot in this place of bewitching beauty enclosed by glaciers, forever long to return. Piz Palü, Piz Bernina, Piz Morteratsch and Piz Roseg are well known by climbers, especially the stunning Biancograt leading to Bernina’s summit, often described as the most beautiful of all ice ridges. Piz Bernina (4049 m) is the only four-thousander in the Eastern Alps. Climbing this mountain and its glaciers, which hide countless crevasses, is a challenge to every alpinist. Though Bernina’s glaciers have retreated over the last centuries, the the sheer extent of these rivers of ice remains a distinctive feature of the entire range. During this 10-day trekking tour you will cross the main basin, located in Val Morteratsch, which receives the fl ow of Morteratsch and Pers glaciers. The tour starts in the small town of Chiesa Valmalenco, on the Italian side. The track will take you around the massif, crossing lonely valleys, cultivated pastures and mountain passes all drenched in history. Needless to say, you will be constantly immersed in a breathtaking mountain setting.

Skills required: On this tour you will never reach 4000 m. However, a good knowledge of climbing techniques is often needed. This trek involves crossing two glaciers and some grade II climbing (alternative routes are possible). It is therefore essential to bring climbing gear, complete with crampons, rope and harness. Take careful consideration of the weight of your rucksack. Moreover, good fitness, endurance and experience are needed, because on some days you will be trekking for approximately 8 hours.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Chiesa Valmalenco – Alpe Palü – Lago Palü/Rif. Lago Palü – Bocchel de Torno – Rif. Scerscen – Campo Franscia

 

Travel time:

6,5-7 h (without cableway), 4,5-5 h (by cableway)

 

 

From the very start, endurance and fitness are put to the test. It is however possible to choose an easier route and travel by cableway. From Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m) the track follows the side road leading to Curlo and then climbs steeply up to Monte Piazzetto (1679 m). Soon after a short steep slope the path reaches the highland where you see the spectacular Lake Palü. On the northern bank of the lake lies the Palü hut (1947 m). After Monte Roggione the track slopes uphill squeezing through a narrow valley in the passage “Bocchel del Torno“ (2203 m). Slightly lower, using the ski run, we fi rst reach the Scerscen hut (1813 m) and then, after losing 300 m, Campo Franscia (1557 m), where the first trekking day ends.

 

 

Accommodation:

Rif. Lago Palü (1947 m): Tel. +39-0342-452201, open from June to October, private.
Hotel Edelweiss (Campo Franscia, 1557 m): Tel. +39-0342-451483, open all year, private.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Campo Franscia – Alpe Foppa – Campo Moro – Rif. Zoia – Alpe Campagneda – Rif. CristinaCampo Franscia – Alpe Foppa – Campo Moro – Rif. Zoia – Alpe Campagneda – Rif. Cristina

Travel time: 4-4,5 h

From the small town of Campo Franscia (1557 m) follow the path as it bears left and squeezes through a deep narrow valley as far as Mount Foppa (1857 m). Pass by some typical wooden Walser houses and follow the path heading north towards Campo Moro (1934 m). Soon after a slight dip of 100 m we reach the Zoia hut (2021 m). Keep following the track as it rises gently into the alpine valley and continues so till Alpe Campagneda (2,145 m). Head south towards the foot of the north-western face of Piz Scalino and the stone chalets in Alpe Prabello (2226 m). Finally, you reach the Cristina hut (2226 m).

Accommodation:
Rif. Zoia (2021 m): Tel. +39-0342-451405 or +39-349-0061085 open from mid June to the end of September, CAI.
Rif. Cristina (2226 m): Tel. +39-0342-452398, open from the beginning of July to mid September, private.

Alternative route:
There is a longer route which climbs up Alpe Foppa (1857 m) to the Musella hut (2021 m) and to Alpe Musella (2076 m). This route takes an additional 1,5 hours and gains 365 m. Once on Alpe Musella, the path loses 130 m then veers right, heads down south and merges with the path directed to Campo Moro.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Rif. Cristina – Alpe Campagneda – Passo Campagneda – Pass da Cancian – Alpe Cancian – Quadrada – Selva

Travel time: 6,5-7 h

From the Cristina hut (2226 m), follow the path that leads to Alpe Campagneda (2145m) and on up as far as the Campagneda Pass (2626 m), crossing through a highland with a vast collection of beautiful tarns. The next descent takes you to what used to be the basin of Scalino’s glacier. This is also the end of the Poschiavina valley (about 2400 m). The path slopes up to Cancian Pass (2464 m), entering Swiss territory, and soon descends to the Canciano valley reaching Alpe Cancian and the small village of Quadrada (1864 m). A descent of some 400 m through thick conifer woodland brings you to Selva (1458 m), today’s destination.

Accommodation:
Pensione Ristorante Selva (1458 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8440746, e-mail: info@selva-pensione-ristorante.ch, www.selva-pensione-ristorante.ch, open from the beginning of May to the end of October, private.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Selva – Urgnasch – Plaz Cervas – Val – Braita – Alp Varuna – Cavaglia – Alp Grüm

Travel time: 5,5-6- h

From Selva (1458 m) take the path to Urgnasch, and then follow a logging road to Plaz Cervas, followed by another road running through the splendid Urse valley towards the town of Val (1631 m). The trail goes past Cugnani, then rises gently to Braita (1820 m) followed by the stunning Varuna valley and Mount Varuna (1898 m). Keep going ahead and past the towns of Motta di Cadera and Cavagliola till you reach the small rural community of Cavaglia* (1693 m). If you think that the day has not been particularly demanding so far, then wait until you start climbing up to Alp Grüm (2091 m). You will need all the energy you have left to reach this place, where you can stay over night! The other optional overnight stay is at the “Albergo Belvedere” hotel (2189 m), 100m higher and a further walk of around 20 minutes.

*In Cavaglia try to visit the Gletschergarten (the whole tour takes about an hour and 50 m height gain): the path is equipped with explanatory panels and you can also visit the recently discovered „Giant’s cooking pots“.

Accommodation:
Rif. Cavaglia (1,693 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8440565, e-mail: welcome@rifugiocavaglia.ch, www.rifugiocavaglia.ch, open from the beginning of May to the end of October, private.
Buffet Alp Grüm (2,091 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8440318, e-mail: alpgruem@bluewin.ch, www.alpgruem.ch.vu, open almost all year, private.
Albergo Belvedere (Alp Grüm, 2,189 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8440314, e-mail: info@belvedere-alpgruem.ch, www.belvedere-engadin.ch, open from the end of May to mid October, private.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Alp Grüm – Lago Bianco – Passo del Bernina – Lej Nair – Lej Pitschen – Bottom station of the Diavolezza cableway – Berghaus Diavolezza

Travel time: 6-6,5 h.

From Alpe Grüm head to Lake Bianco (2234 m) and soon after, to the Bernina Pass (2328 m). Follow the path running along the western bank of Lake Bianco all the way to the extreme northern part of the lakes Lej Nair and Lej Pitschen. After crossing the railway track several times you reach the lower cableway station of Diavolezza. To enjoy the landscape to the full, avoid taking the cableway and walk up to Lej (lake) da Diavolezza (2573 m) until you reach the Diavolezza hut (2973 m).

Accommodation:
Albergo Ospizio Bernina (2307 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8440303, open all year, private.
Berghaus Diavolezza (2973 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8393900, e-mail: berghaus@diavolezza.ch, open from mid June to mid October, private.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Berghaus Diavolezza – Ghiacciaio di Morteratsch – Chamanna da Boval – Fuorcla Boval – (Piz Morteratsch) – Chamanna da Tschierva

Travel time: 8-8,5 h

Attention
To cross the glacier full climbing gear is necessary!

Start descending to the Morteratsch glacier and when you reach 2411 m, use your climbing gear for the traverse. After passing the Chamanna (hut) da Boval (2495 m), you ascend to 3347 m following a grade II trail, equipped in some parts. If you have time to spare, then climb up Piz Morteratsch at 3,751 m and enjoy the stunning view. For the descent, the path crosses the glacier “Vadrettin da Tschierva”, it is not very steep and normally you do not find many crevasses. After the glacier, follow a steep and equipped trail and eventually reach Chamanna da Tschierva (2584 m).

Accommodation:
Chamanna da Boval (2495 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8426403, e-mail: boval@bluewin.ch, open from April to October, SAC-CAS.
Chamanna da Tschierva (2584 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8426391, e-mail: htsyti@bluewin.ch, open from mid June to mid October, SAC-CAS.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Route A
Chamanna da Tschierva – Hotel Val Roseg – Alpe Margun – Fuorcla Surlej

Travel time: 4-4,5 h

Today is your last chance to admire the view of the Biancograt. Follow the waymarked path directing you down to the massive Vadret da Tschierva glacier in Val Roseg. The view of the glacier foot and the bends in the streams will surely leave you speechless. When you get to Hotel Roseg Gletscher (1999 m) turn left and follow the path as it curves around to take you across Alpe Margun (2461 m) to Fuorcla Surlej (2755 m), where you will once again be rewarded with another stunning view, this time of Piz Bernina.

Accommodation:
Hotel Roseg Gletscher (1,999 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8426445, e-mail: info@roseg-gletscher.ch, www.roseg-gletscher.ch, open all year, private.
Fuorcla Surlej (2,755 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8426303, www.corvatsch.ch, open from the beginning of July to the beginning of October, private.

Route B
Pontresina – Hotel Roseg Gletscher – Fuorcla Surlej

Travel time: 4-4,5 h

Leaving Pontresina, follow the signs directing you to Val Roseg and the Hotel Roseg Gletscher (1999 m) You can reach these destinations on foot or by horse-drawn carriage. Once you reach the hotel, follow the waymarks to Capanna Fuorcla Surlej. Keep following the waymarked path up to the southern crag of Piz d’Arlas then go through Alpe Margun (2461 m) and finally reach Fuorcla Surlej (2755 m).

Accommodation:
Fuorcla Surlej (2755 m): Tel. +41-(0)81-8426303, www.corvatsch.ch, open from the beginning of July to the beginning of October, private.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Fuorcla Surlej – Lej de la Fuorcla – Prugnieu – Sils Maria – Maloja

Travel time: 5-5,5 h

Surely the view of the three peaks, Piz Bernina, Piz Scerscen and Piz Roseg from Fuorcla Surlej (2755 m) is going to be one of the most impressive views you have ever seen. Leave the hut and take the path towards the small lake Lej de la Fuorcla (2489 m). Head south-east towards Prugnieu (2214 m). After two hours you arrive at your destination, where you can enjoy another beautiful scenic location with a small alpine hut. Descending is easy, waymarks guiding you to Sals Maria (1809 m). This place used to be the summer residence of the well known philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Today there is a museum open to visitors. For the final part of today’s tour you can catch the bus to Maloja (1809 m).

Accommodation:
For information: Sils Tourismus and Kur- und Verkehrsverein Maloja.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Maloja – Alp da Cavloc – Passo del Muretto – Alpe dell’Oro – Chiareggio

Travel time: 6-6,5 h

From Maloja (1809 m) or from the Maloja Pass (1815 m), which is also the border between the Engadine and Val Bregaglia, take the uphill slope leading you to Val Forno and the magnifi cent Lake da Cavloc (1911 m), surrounded by the alm pasture carrying the same name. Follow the path gently uphill to the chalets of Plan Canin (1982 m). At this point, the valley forks. Follow the path squeezing through the narrow col, Passo del Muretto (2562 m), which is not only a pass between Italy and Switzerland and the border between the Bernina range and the Alps in Val Bragaglia, but, back in history, it was also an important trading route. As you descend, the path unfolds down into the valley between Monte del Forno and Monte dell’Oro heading towards Alpe dell’Oro (2010 m). After admiring the stunning view of the northern face of Monte Disgrazia, take the small road leading down towards Chiareggio (1612 m).

Accommodation:
Albergo Genziana (Chiareggio, 1612 m): Tel. +39-0342-451005, open from April to November, private.
Albergo Gembro (Chiareggio, 1612 m): Tel. +39-0342-451359, e-mail: postagembro@hotelgembro.com, www.hotelgembro.com, open all year, private.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Chiareggio – Alpe Fora – (Rif. Longoni) – San Giuseppe – Chiesa Valmalenco (Bus)

Travel time: 5,5-6 h

Walking along a mineral trail to Alpe Fora (2053 m) you can observe the stratification formed over different geological eras. Just below the Longoni hut (2450 m) take the path surrounded by beautiful even-surfaced rocks. Here it is worth stopping and maybe take the opportunity to have lunch. Keep following the path till it forks (at about 2332 m) and follow the signs directing you to San Giuseppe. Take the dirt road leading directly to San Giuseppe (1433 m). After a 20 minute bus ride to Chiesa Valmalenco your trekking tour around the Bernina Group finally draws to an end.

Accommodation:
Rifugio Longoni (2450 m): Tel. +39-0342-451120, open from the beginning of July to mid September, CAI.
For further information: Consorzio Turistico Sondrio e Valmalenco.

The four-thousander of the Eastern Alps


Piz Bernina tour

Trailhead: Chiesa Valmalenco (960 m, from Sondrio railway station regular bus connections to Chiesa)
Highest point: Saddle, below Piz Morteratsch (3347 m)
Total travelling time:57-62 h
Overall height gain/loss: + 7524 m - 7051 m route 6a + 7a,
+ 6782 m - 5141 m route 6b + 7b
Alp Convention

Useful information

Tourist information
Consorzio Turistico Sondrio e Valmalenco: Tel. +39-0342-219246 e-mail: info@sondrioevalmalenco.it, www.sondrioevalmalenco.it Ufficio Turistico Pontresina: Tel. +41-(0)81-8388300, e-mail: pontresina@estm.ch, www.engadin.stmoritz.ch
Sils Tourismus: Tel. +41-(0)81-8385050 e-mail: sils@estm.ch, www.engadin.stmoritz.ch/sils
Kur- und Verkehrsverein Maloja: Tel. +41-(0)81-8243188 e-mail: info@maloja.ch, www.maloja.ch
Alpen Akademie Südbünden: c/o Ente Turistico Valposchiavo (Poschiavo) Tel. +41-(0)81-8440571 e-mail: info@alpenakademie.com, www.alpenakademie.ch

Alpine Guides
Guide Alpine Adamello: Tel. +39-340-6142567 or +39-347-4574251 e-mail: info@guidealpineadamello.it, www.guidealpineadamello.it
Guide Alpine della Valmalenco: Tel. +39-0342-452026 e-mail: info@guidealpinevalmalenco.it, www.guidealpinevalmalenco.it
Schweizer Bergsteigerschule (Pontresina): Tel. +41-(0)81-838833 e-mail: info@bergsteiger-pontresina.ch
Bergschule Uri Mountain Reality AG: Tel. +41-(0)41-8720900, e-mail: info@bergschule-uri.ch, www.bergschule-uri.ch

Maps
National map of Switzerland, Sheet 268 (Julierpass): 1:50.000
National map of Switzerland, Sheet 269 (Berninapass): 1:50.000
National map of Switzerland, Sheet 278 (M. Disgrazia): 1:50.000
National map of Switzerland, Sheet 279 (Brusio): 1:50.000

Alpine clubs
Club Alpino Italiano (CAI), Sezione di Valmalenco: www.caivalmalenco.it
Swiss Alpine Club (SAC-CAS): Tel. +41-(0)31-3701818, e-mail: info@sac-cas.ch, www.sac-cas.ch

Public transport:
Autolinee A.V.M. - Sondrio Chiesa in Valmalenco: Tel. +39-0342-212055, e-mail: info@stps.it, www.stps.it
Rhaetic Railway: Tel. +41-(0)81-2884340, www.rhb.ch
Berninanexpress: Tel. +41-(0)81-2884340 www.rhb.ch/Bernina-Express.33.0.html

Weather:
Switzerland: Tel. +41-(0)900-162333 www.meteosvizzera.admin.ch, Valmalenco: www.meteovalmalenco.com
Italy: www.meteo.it, www.meteoitalia.it, www.meteoam.it

Websites
www.alpiretiche.com
www.via-alpina.org
www.whc.unesco.org/en/list/1276
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