Albula ski tour, St. Moritz to(wards) Davos • March 13-19, 2013

Last year we checked out a new (to us) area around the Albula Pass in the upper Engadine, between St. Moritz and Davos. This year we led the trip with a group of friends new and old. Although we had some quite challenging weather conditions that forced us to alter our plans more than once, we managed to have a fun trip with at least some sun and soft snow.

Other Trips with Chris Robinson

Queyras, February 2011
Summer Haute Route, July 2010
Alps climbing, July 2010
Dolomite skiing, March 2009
Ortler skiing, April 2008
Stubai skiing, March 2008
Silvretta skiing, March 2007
Ötztal skiing, April 2005
Ortler skiing, April 2004

Other Trips with Mo Moceri

Queyras, February 2011
Summer Haute Route, July 2010
Alps climbing, July 2009
Dolomite skiing, March 2009
Ortler skiing, April 2008
Stubai skiing, March 2008
Alps climbing, August 2007
Silvretta skiing, March 2007
Alps climbing, July 2005
Ötztal skiing, April 2005
Ortler skiing, April 2004
Mount Kenya, September 2002
Berner skiing, May 2002
Cho Oyu Expedition, October 2001

Other Trips with Miguel Caracoche

Haute Route, April 2011

Other Trips with Kimber and Gerrit

Haute Route, April 2011
Silvretta skiing, March 2009
Berner Oberland, May 2007

Other Trips with Terry Fisher

Berner Oberland, May 2008
Haute Route, April 2007

Return to all recent trips


After a "warm up" day of lift served off piste skiing from the Diavolezza lift near Pontresina, we headed out on the trail from Piz Nair, the highest cable car of the St. Moritz ski complex. The wind was blowing hard and very cold as we prepared to leave civilization behind. Although even our own mothers might not recognize us in our storm gear, we are, from left to right, Alec McShane, Chris Robinson, Miguel Caracoche, Kimber Keagle, Elizabeth Moceri, Gerritt Saylor, Mark (Houston), and Terry Fisher.


But, we anticipate. Going back to that first warm-up day: we had a great run down from the Isla Persa; roll over image to see our route of descent. This descent was accessed by an hour or so of skinning from the Pers glacier, off the back side of the Diavolezza ski area.


Our gentle and pleasant skin up to the Isla Perse; the Fortezza ridge is the skyline here with Piz Palu out of sight on the left.


Ripping the skins at our high point in preparation for the descent. The messy upper reaches of the Morteratsch glacier in the background.


Some very nice powder snow is our reward!


Elizabeth milks some cold light snow in the shade...


Lower down on the glacier, we are almost back on the piste.


Near the glacier toe was a crevasse with an easy walk-in entrance! A fascinating natural ice cave to explore.


So, back to day 2 and our first trek in to the Jenatsch hut. Chris skins up the trail leaving the chair lifts of St. Moritz behind.


The high winds deposited some ticklish slabs in lee areas; Kathy found a small one here, harmless but fragile enough to get our attention!


Arriving at the warm and welcoming Jenatsch hut.


Day three dawned exceedingly cold and with the strong gusty winds continuing. The new snow amounts were negligible, but the challenge was preserving body heat and coping with some very variable snow conditions. Here we cross steep slopes shortly after leaving the hut.


Continuing deterioration of the weather, poor visibility and ungodly cold winds forced us to think better of our original plan to cross a high col. We beat a retreat to the valley to exit out to the train, as this night's plan was to be in a hotel in Bergün in any case. Ripping our skins in the gale, we managed not to drop or lose anything in this precarious spot.


Down in the safety of the snowy woods, we enjoy the peace and quiet, as well as chamois sightings on the slopes above!


The valley dumped us out at the train line at the end-of-the-road hotel restaurant in Spinas. A popular destination for nordic skiers and day hikers high up the Bever valley, the restaurant turned out to have an excellent kitchen!


We enjoyed a tasty lunch from their varied menu, and basked in the warmth of the great indoors. A wildlife enthusiast was clearly their decorator.


A surprise discovery by Miguel; the hotel has a home-made bowling (or skittles?) alley in the back wing! The staff kindly opened it up for our post-lunch amusement, as a gap in the mid-day train schedule had us cooling our heels for a couple of hours. Everything about this set-up was "akimbo", making for very random results and of course even more entertainment.


We did get to Bergün by dinner time, and after a restful night in our hotel, we were out on the trail again. Walking through town to the chair lift, the sun is out and the wind is down but the temperatures are still very cold.


Starting out from the top of the ski lift complex, the weather is perfect!


Up the scenic ridge to the Tschimas da Tisch.


Some nice snow off the back side of the Tschimas da Tisch.


Skinning up again, the last hour or so to the Kesch hut.


Alas, the kind weather did not last. Our plans called for two nights in the Kesch hut, to allow us to enjoy some glacier skiing and perhaps a peak ascent. But the weather was truly awful, with snow and a return of high winds. We made a quick ascent of an easy peak near the hut called Kesch Pitschen, but visibility did not allow us to ski the slopes with much panache. Anyway it was good to get out. Nearing the top of the peak here.


Although this photo was taken two days later, on our last day as we left the Kesch hut for good, the peak above Terry's left hand is the one we skied up on our storm day, Kesch Pitschen. The one above his right hand is Piz Kesch. We have no photos at all from our second-to-last day, as all we managed to do was an abortive attempt to continue on to the Grialetsch hut. Heavy snow, continuing gusty wind, and extremely poor visibility turned us back within a couple of hours. We were happy though to have the comfortable Kesch hut to return to.


At last we have a clear morning again, and LOTS of fresh new snow. We headed up toward Piz Kesch, planning to ski the relatively safe glacier before heading out to the valley. The snow was piled high and deep, with lots of wind deposition and whoomping every few yards.


But our route led us through gentle angled terrain, and nothing scary. The sun was in and out as we approached our high point near Piz Kesch.


A little "summit" for the photographs, good enough for this post-storm day.


It wasn't exactly ego snow, but I think we did OK!


Softer and less wind-effected as we got lower. You can just make out the Kesch hut in the upper right of this photo.


We exited down the valley back towards Bergün, through quiet and deserted villages buried in the new snow. Very still, idyllic, and warm at last!


From Bergün, it was onto the train and back to our starting point in Pontresina. What with all the variety in weather and conditions, shifts from plans A, to B, C and onward, it felt like a long journey! But a fun one, in great company. Thanks all for joining us!

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