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Hike – Piz Corvatsch and over the Fuorcla Surlej into the Val Roseg

    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg

    Photo: Looking at Piz Bernina and Piz Roseg from Fuorcla Surlej.

    A stunning and very variable route switching from glaciers, to rocky wasteland, to high meadows, to lush woodland.

    Key Information

    Route: Murtèl (Corvatsch middle station) – Fuorcla Surlej – Hotel Roseg – Pontresina. Sign posted as Bernina Tour (route 53).

    Length: 14km, +170m, -1100m.

    Date: 2021-August-06.

    Practical Information

    Season: Summer – early Autumn.

    Arrival/Departure: Bus to ‘Surlej, Corvatschbahn’ / Trains and buses from Pontresina.

    Supplies: Food and drink can be found at the start/end and the Fuorcla Surlej and Roseg guesthouses.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: If you are very tired by the time you get to Roseg there are horse and carriages that carry tourists back and forth (for quite a fee). Going the other way and following route 53 from Murtèl down to Sils Maria or on to Moloja is also a great option. I did that in October with a bit of snow on the ground.

    Exposure/Hazards: From Murtèl there is basically no shade or shelter apart from the guest house at the pass until you drop to the valley floor in Val Roseg.

    This was done as a day trip whilst staying in Samedan.

    Notes along the route

    There is a bus from Samedan to ‘Surlej, Corvatschbahn’. It is a bit slow (43 minutes) but gets you there and is direct from the middle of Samedan. Plus watching the bus awkwardly thread its way through the old town in Celerina is quite an experience.

    Got ‘hiking tickets’ for the Corvatsch cable car – these cover the ride up to the top station to admire the views, then take you back down to the middle station where you can hike off in various directions down to the valley. 52 CHF full price, or 26 CHF with GA/half-fare etc. The cable car runs every 20 minutes so it is easy to be flexible when taking in the view and moving on.

    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    Piz Corvatsch from the cable car station.

    The top station sits high up at 3303m (amongst the highest cable cars in the country). There isn’t a whole lot at the top apart from a restaurant and a very extensive view. The best view is of the neighbouring Piz Murtèl, off to the glaciers of Piz Bernina and Piz Roseg, and the lakes in the Engadin valley below. The weather had turned nicer after weeks of cold rain but there was still 5cm of fresh snow from the last few days which was frozen hard (warm clothing is advisable, this was a day which started with my normal winter outfit and then changed to just a t-shirt). The fresh snow did put a really nice white sheen on the mountains which would normally be a bit duller in August.

    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    Looking over the Engadin from Corvatsch.
    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    Fresh snow in August.

    Had a bit of coffee and cake, admired the views for an hour or so, then headed down to middle station

    The path from Murtèl to the Guest House at the Fuorcla Surlej is mostly very gentle with only a little climb at the end.

    There is a stunning view of Piz Bernina/Roseg and their glaciers suddenly towering over you as you reach the pass, this view stays with you as you go down and gradually changes during the descent.

    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    Hiking from Murtel to Fuorcla Surlej (in the foreground).
    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    View of the high peaks and glaciers as you cross the Fuorcla Surlej.

    The descent down to the valley floor drops 760m in 4km, but it is not too steep or rocky for the most part.

    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    Descending into Val Roseg.
    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    Descending into Val Roseg.

    I had intended to have lunch at the Restaurant Roseg but it was crazy busy with very little hope of getting a table and the attention of the staff. I had hoped that being a 14km round trip without a car from Pontresina that not many people would venture out that far, but e-bikes, horse and carriage rides, and an underestimate (judging by some faces) of the trip length by foot meant that it was on the busiest spots in the whole trip. I will try again at a quieter time of year (a friend tells me the dessert there is fantastic).

    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    The wide open floor of the upper Val Roseg. The hotel is just out of shot to the left.

    From the restaurant the wide and open valley quickly narrows and turns to forest until you reach Pontresina.

    The road (closed to normal traffic) which runs up from Pontresina to the Hotel Roseg seemed to have a constant stream of bikes going back and forth (plus the odd horse and cart). The hiking path (explicitly closed to bikes for a change in Graubünden) is mostly separate to the road and was an enjoyable walk down through forest and meadows.

    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    Reaching the valley floor.
    Corvatschbahn Fuorcla Surlej Val Roseg
    Heading down through the forest to Pontresina.

    At Pontresina there are trains/buses onward to Samedan and other towns in the area. The centre of Pontresina has its charm, but it is a bit of a distance from the station.

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