biting cold temperatures coincide with several days of snow-free winter weather. In such conditions, the Lago Bianco – dramatically located 2,234 metres above sea level by the Bernina Pass – freezes to form a sheet of sparkling dark ice as smooth as glass. The phenomenon, known locally as “Schwarzeis” (“black ice”), is one of nature’s most enchanting winter sights – and leaves nobody cold.
The ice is so clear that you can gaze down into the shimmering depths, a bewitching spectacle that leaves visitors spell-bound – or has them reaching for their smartphones to capture this rare and “very Instagramable” phenomenon! The reflections of the sky and the surrounding snow-covered mountains in the smooth surface radiate an almost unreal beauty.
The fact that the Lago Bianco is a reservoir detracts in no way from its beauty. On the contrary: it was created at such a spectacular location that the lake, fed by milk-white glacier water, is a popular walking destination and photo subject at all times of year. In summer, various hiking trails lead along its shores and beyond to Alp Grüm or down to Poschiavo; in winter, the “black ice” can even make it the region’s star!
As the Lago Bianco is just 15 minutes’ drive from Pontresina and located right by the Ospizio Bernina station of the Rhaetian Railway, many visitors come to enjoy the sparkling smooth surface of the frozen lake as soon as – and above all if – the ice layer is thick enough and officially declared safe to venture on to. And that’s the big question… if!
“Schwarzeis” or “black ice” does not happen on request, and occasionally nature spoils the best-laid plans of visitors and ice sports enthusiasts. If snow falls and covers the ice while it is still thin, the water no longer freezes to a sufficient extent – and everyone has to hope for better luck the following winter.
Fingers crossed, then, for the winter season 2019/20: in the event of “Schwarzeis”, the new winter offer “2234 Ice Paradise” will officially open Lago Bianco to skaters, too, for the first time.
Whatever happens, excitement is guaranteed – whether on the ice or hoping for it!