Monthly Archives: October 2015

More rain and snow

October 4th

It had rained a lot during the night and the weather was still very dull in the morning.  After refuelling (0.92 ct/litre lead-free; duty-free zone!), I drove to “Baitel del Gras degli Agnelli” a small uninhabited house at 2099 m on the road to Forcola di Livigno.  I got ready to get some fresh air when it started to rain very hard, so I listened to music in the car for an hour. Suddenly the rain stopped and the sky seemed to be clearing a bit. So off we go!

Itinerary: round trip to La Stretta col (2465 m); distance 3.6 km, 375 m total vertical height both uphill and downhill, 50 minutes up and 30 minutes down again, with a light rucksack. Snow on the ground from 2200 m, covering the path entirely from about 2300 m.

I intended to perhaps go up to Piz la Stretta (3104 m) on a marked path, but everything was in the fog, I would have taken at least three hours round trip for the remaining 650 m height difference, with much deeper fresh snow further up, and the sky was closing in again (on the way up I had 2-3 minutes of sunshine and saw my own shadow for the first time in two days!)  The decision to turn back was quickly taken and mountain congratulated me by bringing me new gusts of wind and snow.

So off to Pontresina for a quick visit to Fritz and Ursulina Hagmann, then I returned to Vevey and Grandvaux in the afternoon.

Winter conditions on the summit

October 3rd

Itinerary:  Rifugio Saoseo – Pass da Val Mera ( 2660 m) – Piz Ursera (3032 m) – Forcola di Livigno (2315 m) – La Rösa (to fetch the car).

Distance: 18,7 km
Total time; 8 hours 10 minutes (including 40 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance; 1180 m uphill; 1290 m downhill

Well, the weather was in fact not too bad.  It had rained on and off all night. I left the hut at 7.55 a.m. with all my raingear on, but it didn’t rain/snow until about midday.  No problems up to the Val Mera col, but then the path (if there was one) was not marked and there was more and more snow, up to 30 cm at the summit of Piz Ursera.  Maybe I should not have tried it, but the alternative would have been a huge detour.  So progress was slow, visibility was down to about 100 m in the cloud, there was a cold wind and it was snowing.  Winter conditions!  Thanks to the GPS, I found my way to the top, wrote my name in the summit log book and started down.  Steep, and a lot of fresh snow, not consolidated, so one sank in up at every step.  Again, the GPS was invaluable and as I lost height there was less and less snow on the stones, visibility improved, and I picked up a path with cairns and reached the frontier again just before the Forcola di Livigno.  By now it was no longer snowing but raining on and off.

Once at La Rösa, the road over the Bernina pass was closed because of a Porsche rally, so I used the time to have a coffee and to strip off all my wet clothes (and boots – they held out well but could not cope with puddles and wet snow lower down).

That finished the Poschiavo valley.  I drove into the Livigno duty-free zone of Italy and found a cheap albergo.

Night: Albergo Forcola, Livigno

Too much snow – cloud level too low

October 2nd

Itinerary:  Rifugio Saoseo (1986 m) – Pass da Sach (2731 m) – Laghi da Viola – Pass da Val Viola (2432 m) – Rifugio Saoseo.

Distance: 16,4 km
Total time:  7 hours 20 minutes (including 50 minutes for the stops)
Vertical distance: 1260 m both up and down.

Conditions were not brilliant.  From about 2400 m upwards, 5 – 15 cm covered the whole mountain side, including the path (which was well marked and not too difficult to follow).  But progress was slow because of slippery stones under the snow, which required care.

The cloud level stayed at 2900 m all day and it drizzled a little in the afternoon.  Under these conditions, no summits were possible.

I could have been back at the hut by lunch time, having left at 8.10, but decided to do another pass ss well.

Weather forecast for the next two days:  rain!


Boundary stones nos. 12 (Pass da Sach) and 11 (Pass da Val Viola).  They are separated by some 5 km of rocky ridge.

IMG_7270C IMG_7271C

Back to the mountains

October 1st

Drove to below the Bernina pass to La Rōsa.  6 ½ hours, over 4 passes:  Nufenen, San Bernardino, Julier and Bernina!

Walked up to Rifugio Saoseo (CAS, 1986 m), an easy walk.

Distance: 6 km;  time 90 minutes.
Vertical distance:  270 m uphill, 160 m downhill.

Weather not good; there is a lot of snow on the mountains.