Want to set your sights high? We recommend a visit to the “Ballroom of the Alps”. The stars of the show are the mighty Piz Palü, the proud Piz Bernina and the beautiful Bellavista, framed by two sparkling rivers of ice: the Morteratsch Glacier and the Pers Glacier. Grab your skis, crampons and ice axe for an A-list adventure!
The Engadin is home to the highest mountains in the Eastern Alps – including their only 4,000-metre peak, the Piz Bernina (4,049 m). No less famous is the Piz Palü (3,901 m), with its three dramatic buttresses of rock and ice. The mere sight of these graceful and elegant mountains fills visitors with awe: hence the nickname given to the Bernina massif, “Ballroom of the Alps”.
Would you like to scale one of these titans? With a little experience of ski touring, a good level of fitness and a qualified mountain guide, the thrill of such an ascent is closer than you might think. And if you don’t believe it, just ask the experts at the Pontresina Mountaineering School.
A high-altitude ski tour up the Piz Palü (3,901 m) begins on the Diavolezza (2,978 m), where the views of the “Ballroom of the Alps” are simply mesmerising. A cable car carries you swiftly up to this panoramic peak, popular with winter sports enthusiasts and sightseers alike. The summit hotel here, the comfortable Berghaus Diavolezza, makes a convenient base for ski mountaineers who wish to set off early for the Piz Palü. The ascent presents few technical difficulties, but the exposed summit ridge demands a sure foot and a good head for heights. The route between the seracs and crevasses below the Piz Cambrena is especially impressive: you feel as if you are in a labyrinth of ice.
A winter ascent of the Piz Bernina (4,049 m) is a very long and difficult challenge for ski mountaineering enthusiasts. The route involves a total climb of 1,600 vertical metres, and leads close to yawning glacier crevasses. To reach the summit, skiers climb over the exposed Spalla ridge; they need experience of walking and climbing with crampons, as well as a good level of fitness and sound ski technique. This ascent also begins on the Diavolezza.
Graubünden, too, has its own “Haute Route”. This leads from the Engadin to Davos, and usually takes four days. Along the way, you climb some of the finest ski touring peaks in Graubünden, spending the night in Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) huts: Es-cha (2,594 m), Kesch (2,632 m) and Grialetsch (2,542 m). A magnificent experience for all who enjoy powder snow and cosy mountain cabins.
In addition to the classic routes described above, you will find plenty of satisfying challenges in Engadin far from the masses. For example, in the Val Forno near Maloja, the Forno mountain hut (Swiss Alpine Club) offers a handy base for tackling the mighty Monte Disgrazia (3,678 m). The Boval SAC hut, meanwhile, is the starting point for the ascent of the Piz Tschierva (3,546 m), with a demanding but rewarding descent into the Val Roseg. Another attractive ascent is up to the Piz Cambrena (3,606 m), which you can tackle directly from the top of the Bernina Pass. And which is your summit goal? The Pontresina Mountaineering School will be happy to help you.