Alpinism enjoys a long-standing tradition in the region, especially in Pontresina. The mountain village, surrounded by the Bernina massif, is the ideal location for mountain-climbing. The imposing mountains were first conquered in the middle of the 19th century, mainly by local mountaineers. And the majestic ice- and snow-covered Engadin mountains have been a major attraction and destination for mountain-climbing enthusiasts ever since.
How about traversing a glacier equipped with pickaxe and crampons, or climbing via the Bianco ridge up to the Piz Bernina attached by rope to an experienced mountain climber, or feeling the proximity of the granite along a climbing route? Try one of the vie ferrate, or manoeuvre your way along the easy or difficult obstacles at lofty heights on the high-rope challenge course. All these thrilling challenges can be tackled in Pontresina and the surrounding area.
A guided Alpine tour accompanied by an experienced mountain guide is a truly memorable experience. Naturally, top-level training and enthusiasm are guaranteed. With the Pontresina Mountaineering School, the Engadin St. Moritz region boasts one of the largest in the Alps. Sport climbing, ice training and high-alpine tours are just some of the activities in its comprehensive portfolio (www.bergsteiger-pontresina.ch; T +41 81 834 57 58).
And as perfect preparation – or on the rare occasion when the sun is not shining – there are also three vie ferrate, a high-rope challenge course and an indoor climbing wall just waiting to be put to the test (www.govertical.ch, www.serlas.ch; T +41 81 834 57 58).
The Piz Bernina, at 4,049 metres (13,284ft) the only four-thousander in the canton of Graubünden and the highest mountain peak in the Eastern Alps, offers the ultimate in mountain climbing against a spectacular Alpine backdrop. A kitchy Alpine panorama? No, much rather a pristine mountain world that can be enjoyed by everyone. The the firn-covered section of the northern ridge, the famous Biancograt, reputedly the most beautiful ice-covered ridge in the Alps. Other well-known tour areas are the Piz Morteratsch, Piz Roseg and Piz Palü – the last of which is particularly suitable for first high-Alpine tour experiences.
In 2012, 620m (2,034ft) of safety rope was installed and 382 steps were cut into the rock on the southern outskirts of Pontresina. As a result, it is now possible to climb 273m (896ft) up towards Alp Languard in a good two hours. The La Resgia via ferrata is easily accessible and offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Bernina massif. Those who tackle the via ferrata located 20 minutes from the Diavolezza top station and climb to the summit of the Piz Trovat at 3,146m (10,322ft) can enjoy a breathtaking panorama en route. The climb takes around two hours and leads over 500 steps. The via ferrata is also suitable for inexperienced climbers. Safety equipment, including a harness, climbing helmet, gloves and shock absorbers with three karabiners, is obligatory and can be hired on location. In 2013, a second, more challenging, route also opened on the Piz Trovat.
For the adventurous: the Via Ferrata and La Resgia fixed-rope climbs in the Engadin
The via ferrata (fixed-rope climb) on the Piz Trovat is not for anyone with weak nerves. Even when you are secured in a climbing harness, your adrenalin level climbs in the same direction as the 550 steps: steeply upwards. Once you have conquered the ascent, you have to cross a thrilling hanging bridge before your exertions are rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view extending from the Piz Palü to the Bernina and the Morteratsch. In summer 2011, a second route openend on the Piz Trovat. It is more challenging than the first, giving professional climbers, too, a real kick.
At the Morteratsch climbing wall, budding mountaineers can learn the basics of climbing: knot-tying, rope handling and shortening, handholds and footholds, lead and second climbs, and safety techniques. Instructors from the Pontresina Mountaineering School and Go Vertical are on hand to give assistance and advice, so that everyone can encounter their own personal “vertical limits”. It goes without saying that safety is of paramount importance.
The indoor climbing hall at Serlas Parc in S-chanf gives climbing enthusiasts the opportunity to pursue their sport whatever the weather and offers climbing routes of all levels of difficulty. Afterwards, they can relax and recuperate in the Climbing Lounge. The entire climbing facility is operated by Go Vertical (www.serlas.ch; T +41 81 659 00 01).
Note: A great opportunity to test out your personal limits – and without any risk! The Engadin mountain guides ensure that even novices soon feel like proper mountaineers. Contact: Bergsteigerschule Pontresina GmbH, T+41 81 842 82 82; www.bergsteiger-pontresina.ch.
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