On the border
The Far North of the Canton of Graubünden
Where Liechtenstein, Austria and Switzerland come together, there is a little peace of Paradise nestled against the impressive limestones wall of the Rätikon, at the end of the Sankt-Antönien valley. It will be the start of our trips to the surrounding summits and ridges that all offer breath-taking panorama's against very affordable efforts.
Snowshoeing in this area is not only rewarded by highly photogenic views on the mountains, but offers also an opportunity to encounter a rich history with, among others, the migration of the famous 'Walsers', which stretches up to the Italian side of the Monte Rosa.
Last but definitely not least: the cottage that will be our base camp for five days is a jewellery of authentic Swiss woodcraft with our own kitchen, cosy rooms, cast iron heater and sauna! I forgot to mention the cow bells on the wall...
The idea of the 'day trips' is that we stay at one place and start everyday from there to go up the mountain, in opposition to a 'roaming trip' where we travel from one place to another. Because the location of our gite is so convenient to explore all kind of winter landscapes, the radial approach is by far the best to do here.
I would like us to decide together everyday about the route and destination. Although I always have a plan, I like to check on the group whether people are in the mood of a ridge, or a roundtrip, or a small wander through the forest. There is enough to enjoy there for any taste and fitness level. So, depending on the conditions, we get the daily programme all together.
After a first day of 'tuning in' where we can check upon material, basics for safety in the winter and responsible snowshoeing with respect to the fauna, we will have the choice among the following trips, among others:
Summit of Chrüz, Eggberg, end of the valley and up to the Carschina hütte, panoramic crossing of the Schollbergmader. All these trips can be started right from the front door of the gite, or either by taking a local bus for 10min in order to save a couple of hundred meters. Another possibility is to take the cars one day to get to Davos and walk on the Pischa mountain to enjoy the view on the Silvretta massif.
In total we have 5 days to spend together snowshoeing, having rest for the lunch, sauna at the end of the day and some reading next to a nice fire in the evening for those who like it: it's all included!
So far I can remember the Rätikon valley in the winter, I can only recall a 'full on' Christmas ambiance, all the mountains packed with thick snow, even when elsewhere people are stuck with a 'green winter'.
We meet at the gite's location. For those who want to arrive by train, I can organise a pick-up at the Kublis station on the Landquart-Davos railway line.
The gite is rent as a self-management facility: we have access to a fully equipped kitchen and several rooms are organized as small dormitories or 4 persons sleeping rooms in the building. All is craved in big old tree trunks, giving the hut a very cosy mountaineering ambiance. We might have to share the kitchen with another group, but everyone coming to this place has got the same mindset as we have: easy going and taking advantage of this magnificent place.
This means however that we will have to decide about the cooking teams and the menu's.
At Arpentages, we like to follow some ethical/responsible rules when it comes to snowshoeing. The winter is a season where Nature rests, and specially fauna is put at stake. This means that, to be honest, we would better stay home rather than disturbing any animal out up there. This is the reason I follow some basic principles enounced by Mountain Wilderness Switzerland. I invite you to read it at the following link (in German). I have folder in English as hard copy when we meet in Sankt Antonien, no worries...
One last word ...
Who says 'snowshoeing' says also 'conditions in the snow pack', avalanches risks', etc..
We stay out of troubles but it means that the snow conditions rule, and they will guide my choices before starting and on the way, at all time. So be ware that the programme might change, all for good reasons. This said, there are so many possibilities in the valley that we will always find a trip that fits our wishes.
The all-in package is €680,- p.p. and includes: accommodation, guide, insurance, all meals, sauna and local public transport.
It does not include: transport to the meeting point (gite), renting of safety gear (probe, shovel, avalanche beacon) and renting of snowshoes. But I can help you out with a small additional fee if you encounter problems to rent the gear. A full-rent gear package (probe, shovel, avalanche beacon + snowshoes) costs €70,- for the week.
Dates for 2020: from February, the 10th (arriving of participants at the gîte) until February the 15th (9.00AM).
Resources on the Web
There are many resources on the Web, no doubt, so I just selected a couple that focus on some aspects stated here above.
- a bit of the range our week, but this is a superb climbing video that will give you an idea of how it feels like when you are on the Rätikon wall !
- a small recall to the link about the do&don'ts of wintersport.
- the site of the SLF for the daily snow bulletin; the Swiss are leading the exhaustive study of snow in the Alps and they grant themselves the luxury to issue an update twice a day (aginst once a day in other countries, if any...)
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