Silvretta Ski Safari
In the middle of April we at last launched our Silvretta Ski Safari after two years of Covid forced postponements. It was definitely worth the wait! The team enjoyed 4 fabulous days in the mountains, 3 nights in mountain huts and summited 3 peaks along the way. The sun shone throughout and views were sensational.
We were a team of 7, looked after by two guides Bruno and Michi. We all met up on the platform of Klosters station on Sunday morning after a quick visit to Gotschnasport to rent all the right equipment, including crampons, harnesses and ice axes; this was looking like being a proper adventure! We took the train through the Vereina Tunnel and then a short bus ride brought us up to the charming village of Guarda, setting of the iconic Schellen-Ursli books illustrated by Alois Carigiet. Our first stop was the Ustaria Crusch Alba for an early lunch (which was completely stunning!) to prepare us for our trek into the mountains. This was a very civilised way to start a ski tour!
Fully charged, we strapped our skis to our back packs and strode out of the village with purpose. Before too long we reached the snow line and then it was on with the skins. Most of the team had toured before but for a couple it was the first time, but they got into their stride pretty quickly. We made good time and arrived at the intimate Tuoi Hutte (2250m) shortly after 3pm. For most this meant time for tea and a slice of cake or strudel, but a couple wanted to climb further and they were rewarded with some splendid snow on the way back down to the hut.
The next morning we had an early breakfast and at 7am started our climb. We skinned up underneath the Piz Buin and marvelled at the views as the sun rose over the mountains. Eventually we reached a small col with a signpost telling us we were leaving Switzerland and entering Austria. We traversed onto the Vermuntgletscher and carried on touring up, admiring the wonderful snowfields we would be skiing down later. Our destination was Dreilanderspitz (3197m) and we skinned up until we could tour no further, about 60-70m below the summit. It was a gorgeous day and being so close to the top it would have been silly not to go the whole way. Although some other groups were going up unprotected Bruno and Michi insisted that we rope up and put on crampons. It proved to be a very easy scramble, but in some parts the way was pretty exposed and I was relieved to be on the end of a rope! Before too long we were on the summit grinning from ear to ear and taking photos of the incredible views.
The descent to the Wiesbadener Hutte (2443m) was glorious in lovely soft snow and there was plenty of space to make our own tracks. We arrived at the hut ready for beers and a late lunch in the sun. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, sun bathing and playing cards before a hearty dinner and bed.
The next day we split into two groups. Michi took one group who wanted to go up Piz Buin (3312m) and Bruno took those who wanted a bit more skiing. I went with the latter as I had been up Piz Buin before and wanted to try something new. The touring up the Ochsgletscher was stunning and very relaxing as much of it is not that steep. We had a lovely ski and then the skins came back on; we met the other group at the col under the Silvrettahorn (3244m) and swapped stories. With the Silvrettahorn so close some of us, guided by Michi, took the opportunity to walk up to the summit. This time I did join the summit group and was not disappointed as the views were completely splendid.
Our last night was spent at the Silvretta Hutte, which was completely lovely. The afternoon was incredibly hot and it felt like summer as we sat on the terrace enjoying the late afternoon sun. Given that the temperatures were rising we had a very early start the next morning, planning to leave at 6am! We had a fun last night with probably the best dinner of the tour, but given the early start the next day it was early to bed.
Our last day was a fitting way to finish the tour. We skinned up to the base of the Silvretta Glacier taking photos in the "snout" on the way past and then into Ober Silvretta. Again the views were spectacular and it was hot work climbing in the sun. But we timed it to perfection and the spring snow on the descent was à point. The final part though was a bit tricky as we started to run out of snow and at the very end we could be seen negotiating our way through a few bushes to get to the bottom. There was snow again in the valley floor and we were able to push our way out along the Sardasca valley, eventually arriving at Alpe Garfuin where we rounded off the tour with an excellent lunch in the sun.