It can be a hiking guide’s worst nightmare. On the first day of our Engadine hiking tour—Sunday, September 8 (still summer)—I wake up to falling snow. The snow continues to fall and accumulate during breakfast. By 9:00 am—our designated departure time—there is eight inches on the ground. Our planned mountain hike is no longer an option. Thankfully, I’m in Pontresina and I know exactly what to do: Head to the Val Roseg.
About the Val Roseg
The Val Roseg is a long gently-sloped valley stretching west from Pontresina on the north side of the Bernina Range in the Engadine region of canton Graubünden. The mouth of the valley is located just behind the Pontresina train station. Even though the snow continued to fall we loved the peaceful ascent, breaking trail as we walked through the conifer forest, crossed bridges over the Ova da Roseg, a tributary of the Inn River which flows into the Danube.
At the top of the valley are two glaciers, the Roseg Glacier on the west and the Tschierva Glacier on the east. Above the glaciers are the giants of the Bernina Range, Piz Bernina (4,049m), Piz Scerscen (3,971m) and Piz Roseg (3,937m). Just below the receding glacier is a paternoster lake, Lej da Vadret. It’s easy to see why the Val Roseg is regarded as one of the most beautiful side valleys in the Engadine. But we’ll save the upper reaches of the valley for another day. Today we’re breaking trail in newly-fallen snow. Our objective is the Hotel Roseg Gletscher. It’s 7km/4.3 miles up the valley and the elevation gain is just 227m/745ft—you hardly know you’re walking uphill.
The trail starts on a paved road, which quickly becomes a dirt road, before breaking to the left on a wide footpath. The trail stays to the left of the river, while the road stays generally on the right side. Along the way you’ll walk through shaded forest before arriving at the Hotel Roseg Gletscher where the panorama of the Bernina Range opens up.
Hotel Roseg Gletscher
At the Hotel Roseg Gletscher the chef spoils us with a full range of regional specialties, capped off by their famous dessert buffet. Most visitors to the Hotel Roseg Gletscher come for lunch, but there are many—me included—who go up to the Hotel Roseg just for the desserts. Be sure to check out the historic photo of the hotel in entrance lobby showing much longer glacier.
Perhaps you’ll be one of the fortunate few who decide to stay the night in one of their charming rooms. In the evening, you’ll enjoy dinner by the crackling fireplace while the day draws to a close. With the spectacular mountain view from your hotel room and surrounded by the peaceful remoteness of the Val Roseg you’ll put the frantic pace of city life far behind you within a few hours.
Arrive by foot, ski, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage
In my previous visits to the Val Roseg I’ve arrived on foot, and in winter on cross-country skis. Plan on about 90 minutes to make the ascent from the Pontresina train station to the Hotel Roseg Gletscher. In winter, the walking trail is groomed for winter walking—a popular activity in the Engadine—and the ski track is regularly groomed and trackset for classic cross-country skiers.
In winter, a horse-drawn sleigh ride also has its own special charm: The snow glistens, the horses steam and the skids of the sleighs glide silently away. Packed in warm blankets and skins you sit comfortably on the carriage and are driven to the hotel. Surprisingly the carriage ride takes about an hour, so it’s really not much faster than walking or sking. The carriage or sleigh service operates with both scheduled and private departures and is provided by Wohli’s Carriage Rides. Wohli’s also offers a shuttle service for hotel guests arriving with luggage.
Once you’ve enjoyed your lunch or extended stay at the hotel you can continue up the valley or ascend the mountainside to the north in the direction of Fuorcla Surlej. Winter visitors can take advantage of ski trails which are groomed for classic cross-country skiers in the winter.
Hiking in the Val Roseg and lunch at the Hotel Roseg Gletscher is a popular feature on Alpenwild’s Best of the Engadine & St. Moritz tour. An overnight stay at the hotel is also possible on any of Alpenwild’s custom or self-guide itineraries in the Engadine. We hope you’ll join us in this wonderful part of Switzerland this next year.
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