Trip Reports: Around The Bernina Range, Switzerland/Italy - September 2018
In early September we flew to Zurich, Switzerland, took a train to St. Moritz, then embarked on a 9-day trek around the Bernina Range in the Rhaetian Alps. Named after the tallest peak in the range, Piz Bernina, the Bernina Range is a rugged and heavily glaciated mountain range along the border of southeast Switzerland and Italy. Our clockwise route took us across into Italy then back to Switzerland again, staying in alpine huts every night along the way.
Despite recent snowfall, a terrible case of jetlag, and an unsettled weather forecast, we set off from St. Moritz for our first destination - the Coaz hut.
Like many huts in the Alps, the Coaz hut is situated in the most unlikely of spots, perched on a solid rock cliff right alongside a glacier.
After hiking out Val Roseg from the Coaz hut, we caught the train in Pontresina for a 5-minute ride to the next valley where we hiked up alongside the Morteratsch Glacier to the spectacularly-situated Boval Hut.
Though it's possible to cross two glaciers to reach our next destination of Diavolezza, we didn't have crampons or ice axes, so we had to go around the long way. We hiked back out the valley, caught another quick train ride to the bottom of the Diavolezza tram, then hiked up to Diavolezza.
Diavolezza is a restaurant building situated on top of a high ridge with a spectacular panoramic view overlooking Piz Palü, Piz Bernina, and the Morteratsch glaciers. So far on this trek every hut was more and more spectacular, and Diavolezza raised the bar even higher! The restaurant is popular with tourists during the day, who mostly ride the tram up and down; but they also have dorm rooms to spend the night, complete with an excellent dinner and breakfast buffet.
From Diavolezza we had a fairly easy day hiking down and around to a lodge at Sassal Mason, above Alp Grüm.
One advantage of hut trekking in September is that the huts aren't crowded at all; at Sassal Mason we were the only guests there, and enjoyed our own private wood fire that evening in their rustic sleeping quarters.
From Sassal Mason we had our longest day of the trek, a fairly grueling hike above Val Poschiavo then up and over Pass da Canfinal into Italy to Rifugio Bignami.
After five solid days of trekking we were totally exhausted at Rifugio Bignami, and with another big day of hiking ahead of us, we decided to take an extra rest day there. During the rest day we did a side hike to check out the Fellaria Glacier, then our second night we had the whole hut to ourselves again!
Like most glaciers in the Alps, this one is receding very quickly; each year it's remarkably smaller as noted in dated photos at the hut.
Rested up after two nights at Rifugio Bignami, we crossed over the Forcella di Fellaria pass and continued to the Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri, another hut perched on the edge of a massive cliff.
Built in 1886, the Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri is a historic hut and the traditional resting point for the standard route up Piz Bernina.
From Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri we had another long hiking day over Forcella d'Entova to the Rifugio Longoni.
In the morning at Rifugio Longoni I witnessed the best sunrise of the trek so far, though I was unable to find any intriguing foreground compositions to photograph so I just took another hut photo!
Our final hut in the Bernina Range was the amazing Forno Hut, a beautiful hut situated on a cliff (as usual) above the Forno glacier.
I was happy to find this tiny pond to photograph reflections in the morning.
After breakfast we hiked back out the Forno valley to Maloja, where we caught a bus back to St. Moritz where we started from, completing another fantastic hut trek in the Alps!