Silvretta Ski Safari 2023
There was hardly a cloud in the sky, some fresh snow overnight and we were standing at the col at the top of the Chammgletscher with some 1500m of untouched mountain stretching out below us. This was our last day of our Silvretta Ski Safari which had started 4 fabulous days earlier.
The team had originally assembled in Klosters, staying in the appropriately named Silvretta Parkhotel. Gotschnasport had kindly stayed open for us as most of the group had flown into Zurich that afternoon and only got into Klosters at 7.30pm, needing to get kitted out that evening as the following morning's train departed long before the shop opened. We then had a delicious dinner at the Wynegg, surely our last gourmet meal before submitting ourselves to mountain hut fare.
The next morning we met our guides Bruno and Michi and jumped on to the 7.28 train to Scuol, which is about 45 minutes from Klosters on the other side of the Vereina Tunnel. It was very noticeable how mush less snow they had had in the Engadin and this became even more apparent as we started our first descent into the Val Urschai, accessed after making full use of the Scuol lift system and a one hour skin. We descended gingerly sticking to the gulleys where there was more snow, and fully appreciating the remoteness of our surroundings where we could not see a soul as far as the eye could see in any direction, save a lone chamois which viewed our progress from atop a rocky crag. From the valley floor we skied up the other side for another couple of hours over the Futschol Pass and into Austria and a long gentle descent to the Jamtal Hut. It was a hot day and we were all parched. The beers and radlers which greeted us on the sunny terrace were so very welcome.
Day 2 afforded us a relaxed departure at around 8pm and it was not long before we were heading off in a different direction to the other ski tourers who had also been staying at the Jamtal. We were on our own under pure blue skies in a majestic wilderness whose beauty defied belief. On we went soaking up the awe-inspiring surroundings until we could go no further. I hasten to add not out of tiredness but because of an apparent dead end. This was all part of Bruno's and Michi's plan as they told us to attach our skis to our rucksacks and put on crampons! We were then roped up and shimmied up a short 45 degree couloir to a small col, from where we were within striking distance of our goal, the summit of Rauher Kopf (3101m). The beauty of lesser known summits is that they are less frequently visited and dumping our skis and rucksacks we scrambled the final 100m to the peak for fist bumps and photos, with glorious panoramic views.
With skis back on our feet we descended the long valley down to Beilerhohe and the hotel Piz Buin standing alone on the shores of a man made lake. Our run down actually brought us out below the hotel but thankfully a solitary T-bar was strategically placed to get us to our destination with a minimum of effort. This was the ideal place to spend our middle night with rooms as opposed to dorms and en suite bathrooms with showers.
We were warned that the weather forecast for our third day was not promising, but as we started skinning up the long and beautiful Klostertal we were rewarded with parting clouds and blazing sun. It was a long ski though and it was a good four hours of skinning until we jettisoned our skis and walked up to the summit of Tallispitz (2842m). From here it was not a long ski to the Silvretta Hut, but the south slopes had been hit by the sun and the spring snow was nearly cooked, making the skiing quite tiring. We had got there in time, but not by long; timing is everything!
As we relaxed on the little terrace, with lovely views down the valley towards Klosters, we noticed it getting markedly chillier. We retreated inside and soon it was snowing. It was an afternoon for cards and chatting, and contemplating the cosiness of our dormitory which we were sharing with about 15 other tourers. This was the proper mountain hut experience!
So now we were on top of the world, having left the Silvretta Hut at 7am and skinning up for around 4 hours as the clouds dissipated as we ascended. We had stopped at the snout of the glacier to take photos of the impressive ice cave. We stopped for a break on the col between the Silvretta and Chamm glaciers with the impressive Verstanclahorn towering over us. We had the mountain to ourselves and no superlative could do justice to the majesty of our surroundings.
We set off down the first pitch, Michi leading the way, and it was obvious by the way that the snow flew up with every turn that we were going to be in for a good time. Pitch after pitch, slope after slope, we bounced and glided down the Chammgletscher and then the Verstnclagletscher, grinning like Cheshire cats. It seemed to go on for ever, but eventually we rounded the corner and pushed ourselves into the familiar surroundings of Sardasca, from where we could push down the road to a very welcome celebratory lunch at Alp Garfuin. It had been an amazing tour. We had skinned, skied, scrambled, summited, been roped up, used our crampons, explored wild and remote country, laughed, cried (metaphorically) and had the most amazing adventure. This was four special days like no other.