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Hike – Over the Crap Alv from Spinas to Preda

    Val Bever

    Photo: Climbing up the side of the Val Bever.

    A beautiful pass hike linking up the two ends of the Albula tunnel. Both the Glacier Express and Bernina Express routes pass through this tunnel, so they miss out on this. Amusingly a DW travel doc on the Glacier Express route claims that the Lai da Palpuegna is one of the most beautiful locations in Switzerland but fails to note it is well out of sight of the train.

    Crap is Romansh for stone (and an endless source of amusement for English speakers), Fuorcla is pass, and Alv is white, so the Fuorcla Crap Alv is the white-stone pass.

    Key Information

    Route: Spinas – Fuorcla Crap Alv – Lais digl Crap Alv – Lai da Palpuegna – Preda. Signposted as route 33.

    Length: 12km, +800m, -800m.

    Date: 2021-August-10.

    Crap Alv hike

    Practical Information

    Season: Late spring to Autumn.

    Arrival/Departure: Train to Spinas / Train from Preda. Both stations are on the Chur – St Moritz line, but whilst Preda has hourly trains in each direction there are only trains every 2 hours at Spinas.

    Supplies: Restaurant at the start and end, otherwise nothing.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: The route crosses the Albula pass road which has infrequent bus service. The route can be extended by starting/ending in Bever (4km).

    Exposure/Hazards: There is very little shade for most of the route, but otherwise no particular hazards along the route.

    Done as a daytrip when staying in Samedan.

    This could be done either way (Route 33 even suggests the other way), but Preda has an hourly train connection, and going from Spinas to Preda means the steepest part is uphill so spares the knees.

    Notes along the route

    We got an early start for this. Due to the limited number of trains you can get to Spinas from Samedan at 8:16 am or 11:16 am. We went with the 8:16 am option to avoid the steep climb up to the pass in the full exposure of the midday sun. It also meant some beautiful morning light.

    Starting out at Spinas the train tracks instantly dive into the Albula tunnel and the valley becomes narrower and starts to climb.

    The Val Bever is really stunning (one of my favourite Swiss valleys level of stunning). The section most people see from the mouth up to the train station/tunnel is nice in itself, but pressing beyond that around the corner it really pays off. The trains all announce that you are passing through the ‘wild romantic Val Bever’ but they miss out on the really wild and romantic part which comes high up after they enter the tunnel.

    Crap Alv
    Morning light in Val Bever.
    Crap Alv
    The real ‘wild and romantic’ Val Bever beyond the train tracks.

    Part way up the Val Bever the path for the pass turns straight up the side of the valley. This is a steep climb, but has some beautiful meadows and fantastic views. If you carry on up the Val Bever instead you reach Alp Suvretta which instantly became one of my favourite places when I came across it on a MTB tour.

    Val Bever
    Climbing out of the Val Bever towards the pass.

    The Fuorcla Crap Alv itself is a bit dull, there are some nice peaks around you but the views are a bit limited and the landscape is rather barren. Which is common in many passes. It is still a nice spot, but after the Val Bever most places would be a let down.

    Crap Alv
    Looking onwards at the Fuorcla Crap Alv.
    Crap Alv
    Looking back from the Fuorcla Crap Alv.

    Dropping down the north side of the pass the path soon leads to the Lais digl Crap Alv which is a really beautiful Alpine lake with perfect looking water.

    Lais digl Crap Alv
    Approaching the Lais digl Crap Alv.

    Moving past the lake the path joins the main Albula valley. This has a barren beauty, but I think the Val Bever at the start is much more attractive. You cross over the pass road a few times, but thankfully the road is rather quiet so there wasn’t much traffic noise.

    Crap Alv
    Looking down the Albula valley towards Preda.
    Crap Alv
    Part way down the hillside.

    The last few kilometres are in the forest, including a section long the Lai da Palpuegna. Another beautiful (and much more accessible) lake which offers a nice shady resting spot if you are too early for the next train. It would also be an easy day trip to just ride the train to Preda then walk up to the lake and chill.

    From the lake there is a good 30 mins or so further to the station at Preda. This has been a building site for years now due to the work to drill a 2nd tunnel through and there are some information boards to amuse you until the train arrives.

    Crap Alv
    Lai da Palpuegna.

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