St Moritz, Switzerland

Piz Bernina Ski Tour

Piz Bernina is the crown jewel overlooking the Engardine Valley and, after Mont Blanc, has the greatest independent elevation in the Alps (from valley to summit). Despite the proximity to St. Moritz the area is one of the more isolated and quieter areas of the Eastern Alps. This tour takes in some spectacular glaciated scenery and has some big days at altitude in complex terrain. This is an exhilarating week for experienced ski mountaineers with great summits and superb glacier skiing.The objectives of the week are Piz Morternatsch 3751m, Piz Bernina 4048m and a traverse of the Piz Palu 3900m. We run this tour on a ratio of 1:2 to reflect it technical nature, we can accommodate up to 4 people with 2 mountain guides. Anyone considering this adventure must be a competent ski mountaineer with strong skiing and mountaineering skills plus a high level of fitness.

Day Itinerary

  • Travel to St. Moritz. Meet up with your guide in the evening for welcome meeting and kit check. Stay overnight in our hotel in St Moritz. The following morning the team will catch a taxi or bus to the Diavolezza lift 6km along the valley.

  • We ascend using the Diavolezza cable car to the summit at 2973m. From the top of the lift we have a short 300m ascent to the summit of Munt Pers 3207m before a ski down to the C.A.S Boval Hutte 2495m in a wild and remote location. From here there is a great view of tomorrows objective the Piz Morteratsch 3751m.

  • Making an early start from the Boval Hutte we skin towards the Col Boval 3208m via the Vadret Boval Dadour and then continue up to Col Tschierva 3336m. Our final ascent to the summit of Piz Morteratsch 3751m may involve some cramponing to the summit. We ski down via the Vadtin da Tschierva to the large lake, Lej da Vadret 2160m. From here we ascend to the C.A.S Coaz Hutte 2610m. Todays total ascent is 1300m. 

  • From the Coaz hut we ascend south towards the Swiss-Italian border to Dschimels I Gemelli  3501m. Piz Sella at 3511m is laos ascended my a short traverse from Piz Gamelli. From here there is a challenging ski down via the Pass de Sella 3260m before we make our way to the Marinelli Bombardieri Hut 2813m in Italy. There is 800m of ascent today.

  • We make a very early start from the Refuge Marinelli Bombardieri 2813m and set out for the summit of the Piz Bernina 4049m. The ascent is a long 1500m with some technical climbing towards the summit which will involve crampons and ice axe. This is one of the great ski peaks of the Alps, so a truly memorable day awaits! We descend to the Refuge Marco e Rosa 3597m for a well earned beer and great Italian food.

  • From the hut we head towards towards the Bella Vista; this ridge runs along the boarder at around 3888m and leads us up to Piz Palu 3905m. This traverse is a true ski mountaineering route classic and gives unparalled views to the northern Bernina and Potresina below. We descend to the Diavolezza Hutte 2973m. Todays total ascent is only 400m but we cover some serious glaciated terrain.

  • Today is a contingency day in case of poor weather early in the week. We keep this in the itinerary as its essential to ensure the route can be completed safely with regard to weather and snow conditions. If the route is completed as planned our guide will provide a further day of ski touring from the Diavolezza Hut before returning to the hotel in St. Moritz for the night.

  • Group departs after breakfast.

The price includes 6 full days guiding fees & expenses, 2 nights B&B hotel accommodation (twin rooms), 5 nights HB accommodation in high alpine huts

The price does not include equipment hire, personal insurance, travel to/from St Moritz, uplift costs, local transfers, 2 evening meals, lunches and beverages.

This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming to one of our Ski Tours.

During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities. 

Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.

We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.

If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.

  • When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply suitable kit.
    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than a insulated jacket.
    • 1-2 thin fleeces - rather than a thick layer between your skin and the outer shell - an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’. The principle of ‘layering’ e.g. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity is recommended to ensure comfort on the mountain.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • For the lower half it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (long johns).
    • These can then be combined with either:
    • (a) a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants in a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex (b) a pair of mountain or alpine pants in a softshell material together with a pair of lightweight, breathable over trousers with long side zips.
    • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Icebreaker and Smartwool. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Good quality Gore-Tex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell or fleece gloves for when it is hot and for ski touring in. Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer with cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.

    Skis
    For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
    There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufactures:
    Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com 
    Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com  
    Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com  
    Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us 
    Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
    Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com

    If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.

    Boots
    It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking up hill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best. 

    Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.

    The best of the rest are:
    Fischer - Transalp
    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
    K2 – Pinnacle boot
    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    Bindings
    For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!

    Ski Poles
    We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.

    Rucksack
    For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.

    Key features of a good ski touring pack:
    • a method of attaching your skis in either a A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage
    • easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom
    • separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe
    • small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglassed/goggles etc; an ice axe loop
    • a built-in rain cover an a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet 
    • good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps

    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one. 

    Over a long multiday tour every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.

     

    • Ski Skins – these are skins which, now made of artificial fabric, stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
    • Ski Crampons (aka couteaux) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons. 
    • Ice Axe - general lightweight mountaineering / alpine pick. Ideally this needs to be short enough to fit in your pack.
    • Boot Crampons - ideally lightweight aluminum ones although steel crampons are required for more demanding tours
    • Climbing Harness - a simple lightweight harness. The key feature is that it should have fully adjustable leg loops for putting on over ski boots, crampons, etc.

    On some tours in non-glaciated terrain an ice-axe, boot crampons and climbing harness may not always be required. However as conditions and itineraries can change we do generally recommend that you bring these items with you. If you do not own these items they can be rented to you by our guides or via one of the local sports shops.
  • The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.

    • Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon
    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe
    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training
    • Good pair of ski goggles with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    • Good quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection
    • 35 – 40 liter rucksack
    • 1 – 1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they can freeze.
    • Food – bring some of your favorite hill nibbles (chocolate, energy bars)*
    • Suncream and lip salve
    • Camera with a large capacity memory card!
    • Money – most hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but not all the alpine huts do. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 20-30 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption)
    Please note that your guide will have a few “spares” and other safety items that he or she will ask the group to carry between them; so leave a small space in your sack for an item e.g. spare skin, spare ski pole, emergency shelter.

    For a hut night:
    • Lightweight sleeping bag liner – now compulsory in most huts.
    • Wash kit with small personal first aid items – should include:
    • Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
    • Soap
    • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
    • Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
    • Tissues and toilet roll
    • Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
    • Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
    • Antiseptic cream or wipes
    • Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
    • (Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
    • Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
    • Most huts have limited washing facilities
    • Earplugs – it can get quite noisy!
    • Headtorch - lightweight and carry spare batteries.
    • Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
    What to wear in the hut
    We are often asked by people what they should wear in the hut. It's a good question as you don't want to carry many or any extra clothes with you if they are not required. In the winter you will probably end up wearing your base layer thermals (top & bottom) or you can carry a lightweight pair of loose trousers to wear around the hut in the afternoons/evenings. Your base layer top is what you will probably wear on your top half or you can carry a t-shirt to wear in the hut that can double to sleep in. 

    Food and Water
    We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
    If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
    You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.

  • Most resorts have ski shops that hire ski equipment and we try to provide relevant contact details for all our courses and tours.

    Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs for 6-days hire:

    Touring Skis plus skins and ski crampons €150-180
    Touring boots €80-90 
    Boot Crampons €45-50
    Ice Axe €30-40
    Harness €20-30
    Helmet €20-30
    Transceiver/shovel/probe €75-80

    Our guides also generally have additional sets of safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe) which they hire out to clients for €65 for 6 days hire. Must be booked in advance.
St Moritz.jpg

St Moritz

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St. Moritz in the Engadin Valley in Switzerland is synonymous with grand hotels and designer shops and the home of the famous Cresta Run toboggan course. It also hosts sports like snow polo and one of the largest cross country ski races the Engadine Ski Marathon.

Skiing is spread over the Corviglia, Corvatsch and Diavolezza areas. The Piz Bernina is the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps and of the Bernina area at 4,049m The area offers some excellent ski touring for advanced and expert level skiers and ski mountaineers with technical terrain, great summits and long descents.

Our top reasons for visiting St. Moritz

  • The start of the Piz Bernina Ski Tour
  • Dramatic mountains with lots of great off piste possibilities
  • Why not visit one of the grand hotels like Badrutt's Palace!
  • Excellent snow record

 

Resort Height: 1,822m

Highest Lift: 3,056m

Nearest Airport: Zurich

Transfer Options: We recommend you take the train from Zurich airport to St. Moritz. Connections are regular and the its takes between about 3 hours 45 mins for the journey; usually with 2 changes. To look up train timetables use this link Swiss Railway Timetables.

  • It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • The nearest airports are Friedrichshafen, Innsbruck and Zurich. Journey time from Zurich to Silvaplana is between 4 and 4 1/2 hours with changes usually required in Zurich Hbf, Chur and St Moritz.
    The journey time from Friedrichshafen and Innsbruck is between 4 and 6 hours.

    You should aim to arrive in St. Moritz sometime in the afternoon. There will be an initial briefing with your Mountain Tracks guide on the first evening. This is an opportunity to meet the guide and the rest of the party, to discuss the plans and objectives for the week and to ask any questions you may have relating to the week’s itinerary.

  • All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks. 

  • You will spend the first and the last night in a hotel in or near St. Moritz.

    The rest of the time is spent in traditional alpine huts which all serve breakfast and evening meals.

    It is possible to leave your luggage in the hotel whilst you are in the mountain huts as you will return there for the final night.

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