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Hike – Diavolezza and Munt Pers


    Photo: Footpath from Diavolezza to Munt Pers.

    This is now one of my top 3 glacier/mountain viewpoints in Switzerland (along with Eggishorn and the ridge above Gornergrat). Just taking the cable car up to the top station for the views over the Pers glacier and the high peaks is worth it, but carrying on up gives you an even better view of the Morteratsch glacier too and a wider panorama of peaks.

    I had noticed this on maps and figured it ought to be worth a look, don’t think I have ever heard it mentioned before (A Reddit search shows only a few posts, none of which gained much interest). There were a few tour groups who were clearly going over the Bernina Pass and used it as a break, but it didn’t feel anything like the mass tourism of Jungfraujoch or Titlis. There was a curious mix of roughly equal numbers of people just going for the view by the cable car, those carrying on up for a hike, and proper kitted out climbers doing serious mountain tours. It is possibly more popular as a ski run in winter, especially for ski touring down the glacier.

    One of the peaks is Piz Palü, the setting of the fictional film ‘Die weiße Hölle vom Piz Palü‘ in Inglourious Basterds .

    Key Information

    Route: Diavolezza – Munt Pers (3205m) – Diavolezza.

    Length: 3.9km, +320m, -320m.

    Date: 2021-August-12.

    Practical Information

    Season: Summer – Autumn.

    Arrival/Departure: Train to Diavolezza and cable car to Diavolezza upper station / Same but in reverse.

    Supplies: Restaurant at the cable car station.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: You can also hike up or down to the train station at Diavolezza Talstation (approx. 6km 980m height difference) or Bernina (approx. 9km, 900m height difference).

    Exposure/Hazards: This is at 3000m+ and totally exposed outside of the cable car station. Respect the power of the sun and allow your lungs time to adjust to the altitude change before moving too fast.

    This was done as an easy day trip from Samedan.

    It is better to do this with something intended for hiking on your feet, but if you are foot-sure than even a sturdy/grippy pair of trainers would be fine on a dry day. I always recommend having at least a windproof and warm layer. At this height it might well be bloody cold, but on summer days it can also be roasting in the sun (this was one such day).

    Notes along the route

    Arrival by train on the St- Moritz – Tirano line (with a change at Pontresina coming from Samedan) to the Diavolezza cable car station at the ‘Diavolezza Talstation’ stop. Got a spot in the open air wagon (look for AW on the timetable and board via the last normal car) which is a great experience on a warm day.

    Bernina open wagon

    39 CHF for a adult return on the cable car. No discount with the GA/Half-Tax, but for that price to get to 3000m and back I won’t complain. It would be free with the Oberengadin guest card or one of the Engadin passes you can buy.

    The cable car takes you up to the ridge line where you suddenly have a world of glaciers in front of you. This is utterly stunning and is hidden out of sight from the train line below (one of the reasons I suggest expanding the Bernina Express rather than doing it all in one go).

    The view from the top station.

    The upper cable car station has the standard restaurant and little shop selling sports clothes and a few tourist trinkets. There are some (free!) telescopes mounted at the viewing area which you can point where you like and pretty much see what brand of food the mountaineers on top of Piz Bernina are eating (or point them at the sun like some kids seemed to be trying).

    The path up to Munt Pers is very clear and well marked, it is rocky but stable (no slipping down scree or worrying that the big rock you are crossing will wobble). The hardest part of the climb is the thin air. I could feel it hitting me a bit hard at first. The glacier view is with you the whole time so there is something nice to look at whilst taking a rest.

    The view from Munt Pers with the Morteratsch glacier now visible on the right.
    Looking over the Bernina Pass from Munt Pers.
    Looking towards Pontresina from Munt Pers.

    It always surprises me that even at 3000m in a harsh rocky landscape far above the grass line (never mind the treeline) that there are still flowers growing in the patches of dirt and butterflies fluttering about.

    There was a steady trickle of other hikers, including a surprising number of small children and small dogs. We didn’t feel alone, but didn’t feel crowded either.

    Back down the same way. For the hardcore there is a blue ‘Alpine’ path leading down the far side of the peak, though I didn’t notice any markings or a sign for it.

    We had thought to get some food at the cable car station but for whatever reason the staff were ran off their feet even though it was just gone 3pm and should have been fairly quiet. Hopefully that isn’t normal.

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