The Albula Alps Ski Tour lies in Eastern Switzerland – the mountains North of St Moritz are a lovely unspoilt touring region in the upper Engandine. Friendly huts, reliable snow and a host of excellent ski peaks all link up to make a memorable week long ski tour well away from the crowds. This is a great tour for taking in summits each day and linking up north facing descents which often hold powder.
Please visit our Covid-19 Ski Information page for Covid FAQs, details of our new participation requirements, travel advice and what to expect on your trip.
This is a quiet touring area, perfect for skiers looking for accessible ski summits and good quality north facing descents. The huts in the area are small and friendly, with a hotel night and some uplift half way along the tour. The route is a linear hut to hut tour that can be completed in most conditions, as there are various ways of traversing across the range.
This is an intermediate level trip, but the Albula Ski Tour is suitable as a first weeks hut to hut touring if you already have some day touring experience. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3 and Tech Level 2-3 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). You need previous ski touring experience to enjoy this tour. Typically there will be 8-900m of climb a day, plus options to take in extra summits along the way, so you can expect to be skinning for 3-4 hours a day. Type of ascent: we use 20% uplift and 80% skinning – approx 4950m skinning up, and 6300m skiing down.
One IFMGA guide skiing with 6 clients.
Included in price
- 6 days of guiding
- All guides expenses
- 3 nights hotel accommodation including breakfast and evening meals
- 4 nights accommodation in mountain huts, including breakfast and evening meals
Excluded from price (see factsheet for extra costs info)
- Uplift and local travel
- Lunches and drinks
- Flights and transfers to resort
- Equipment hire
Our meeting point in Zernez is the Hotel Spoel, a friendly family run hotel, with good food and offering comfortable accommodation. Rooms are provided on a twin (or occasionally triple) sharing basis, but If you wish to book a single room please let us know and we will confirm availability. Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.
For overnights in the high mountains we will use mountain huts. The huts in this region of Switzerland are excellent – small and friendly with good food. For more info please read the Using Alpine Huts article which provides an overview of typical hut facilities, average costs to help you budget for lunches/drinks and general info on hut etiquette. Also, our Multiday Ski Touring FAQs page answers some of the most common questions we are asked about multi day ski touring and logistics etc.
You should arrange outward travel on Saturday, arriving by 6-7pm latest in time for the briefing at your accommodation. Your guide will run through kit checks and safety routines, as well as hand out any rental equipment, before going on to discuss the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our plans. We’ll have maps and guidebooks of the area to show you, so if you’ve any further questions or last minute requests, then this is the ideal time to bring them up.
Train and taxi to the Julier Pass where the tour starts, then skin up to the Col D’Agnel and on to the Jenatsch Hut.
Crossing the Col D’Agnel is the standard access route to the Jenatsch Hut. Starting at the road just below the Julier Pass, the climb takes around 2-3 hours with a nice descent on the far side either directly to the hut, or continuing on to take in Tschima da Flix along the way.
Various other routes and objectives are also possible to reach the Jenatsch Hut, all starting from the same location. Many of these have north facing descents, which often hold good snow.
800m ascent, 350m descent direct to hut ~3.5hr
One of the highlights of the Albula Alps tour, the Val Mulix is a superb and varied north facing descent which is over 1400m long.
Stable conditions are required to do this day, as some steep slopes must be crossed both on the ascent to the Fuorcla Lavina and on the descent itself. The route follows a lovely bowl shaped valley in the upper half, before a steeper pitch leads into more open terrain.
Further down, a long traverse is made in order to skirt round a cliff band – this leads to a brilliant, smooth angled, open pitch which goes on for miles. Finally, the tree line is reached and a steep, narrow track leads with some entertainment(!) down to the train line at Nax.
The short train ride down to Bergun is one of the most spectacular in the Alps, taking in a long series of twisting tunnels and viaducts. Take time for a stroll round the old village in Bergun, famous for it’s unique architecture and amazing painted buildings. Bergun is also famous for it’s taboggan runs, all of which look utterly terrifying!
500m ascent, 1400m descent ~5hrs
Tschimas da Tisch
From Bergun, an early lift to the top of the ski area leads to a short climb over a fore summit, then a long snow ridge leading up to the Tschimas Da Tisch. This is a wonderful climb, with excellent views across the eastern Swiss Alps.
From the summit, a steep descent beckons – however, particular care is required assessing snow conditions on this section of the tour. If necessary, another good descent line can be taken earlier in the day, in order to link up the route.
A long climb then leads up to the Pischa Pass and the final big traverse to the ever friendly Es-cha Hut.
950m ascent and descent ~5-6hrs
The route from the Es-cha Hut to the Kesch Hut involves a steep roped climb up the Porta D’Es-cha in order to cross the intervening ridge. The route passes by Piz Kesch, the highest summit in the Albula Alps.
This is a mountaineering summit, possible with a small team but not with a larger one. Either way, it’s worth skinning up to the ski depot, in order to take in the view and get a great descent down the north facing glacier to the hut.
The Kesch Hut itself is a comfortable modern building with a very friendly guardian, good food and an equally friendly cat!
950m ascent, 850m descent ~4-5hrs
Depending on snow conditions, there are several different ways to reach the Grialetsch Hut – all include interesting north facing descents, so the skiing is good whichever way you go.
The hut itself is very remote and doesn’t receive many visitors, which makes it all the more attractive a place to spend the night – don’t expect to see too many other people around!
950m ascent, 1050m descent ~5hrs
Piz Sarsusa and the descent to the Engandine makes for a brilliant way to finish the tour.
The climb from the hut starts with a series of traverses out and across to the glacier, then continues steadily to a final steepening up to the Fuorcla Sarsura. From here it’s not too far to the top, with magnificent summit views south to the Bernina.
Now all that remains is the descent, which is massive. First the line drops down wide open glacier slopes for hundreds of metres, before entering a steeper valley and good pitches down to the tree line. From here the usual mix of crazy tracks and trees leads finally down to the valley floor.
800m ascent, 1700m descent ~5hrs
Return travel should be arranged on Saturday morning, after your final nights accommodation.
Your course starts and finishes in Zernez near St Moritz, a convenient access point for touring in this region of Switzerland and tours in Italy nearby. The most common way to reach Zernez is fly into Zurich, then take a train along the main line towards St Moritz – Zernez is just a few stops away from its famous neighbour (3.5 hr journey time from Zurich).
Flights and transfers
- Fly to Zurich with numerous budget airlines, for an overview of the best options check out the excellent Sky Scanner website.
- Train from Zurich to Zernez: https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html (integrated Swiss travel website, displays all connecting bus and train services)
- Alternatively fly to Milan, hire a car and drive to Zernez in around 2.5 hrs (public transport is tricky).
- If you plan to arrive by train and you also plan to travel around Switzerland before/after the trip, then purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass (details on website above) could save you some money, as you get half fare on the cable cars in many resorts, as well as on the trains and buses. If you purchase a Swiss card the journey from the airport to Zernez and back will be included. It isn’t worth buying one for this course alone however.
- Alternatively hire a car in Zurich (approx 4 hours driving time): www.arguscarhire.com / www.holidayautos.co.uk
For flights and other travel options, including train, coach and driving, visit our Travel Planning page.
To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 3, and Ski Tech Level 3:
Fitness Level 3
You do 3-4 hours cv training/sport per week. At this level you are happy doing a 5-6 hr hillwalk, 50ml cycle or 3-4hr mountain bike ride without being totally exhausted. If you are into challenges – then the thought of doing a road sportive, or training to do a 1/2 (or maybe even a full) marathon, wouldn’t seem too ridiculous. On foot: you should be able to do the full Langdale Horseshoe: Langdale – Pike of Stickle – Angle Tarn – Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags – Pike of Blisco – Langdale in a day without finishing up exhausted. On skis: you can skin uphill at 300m/hr for 3-4 hrs a day (ie 8-1200m of ascent each day).
Tech Level 3
Confirmed Off Piste Skier. You can put down a reasonable set of tracks in powder, but difficult snow types – eg heavy wet snow, crusts, poor visibility or 40dg slopes – can all cause problems (though you can cope with them safely, if not elegantly!) *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Purple – Advanced*
Likely to say: ‘I’d like to handle difficult snow/steep slopes more confidently in better style’
Our Advice: Off piste coaching still useful. Intermediate off piste weeks are at your level too. If you want to get into ski touring, try a touring course or intro level ski tour. If you’re an established ski mountaineer, then intermediate level tours are generally suitable.
To view all of our Ski Fitness Levels and Off Piste Technical Levels, please visit our Ski Ability page.
If you need to top up your fitness for this trip, please see our Ski Touring Training Advice page.
Hut to Hut Touring Equipment List
Just remember, every extra kilo on your back knocks 10% off your enjoyment on the descents – so try and keep the weight down!
- Waterproof Jacket – preferably lightweight and breathable
- Overtrousers/ski pants – preferably with side zips
- Fleece mid layer – or equivalent
- Socks – specialist ski socks or a warm loop lined pair of mountain socks
- Wicking thermal top – not cotton please…
- Thermal leggings or ski pants
- Thin inner gloves
- Warm ski gloves or mittens, if you suffer from cold hands
- Warm hat
- Spare fleece/lightweight duvet jacket
- Water container – at least 1 litre
- Personal medications and blister kit – regular meds, zinc oxide tape, compeed and painkillers etc
- Lightweight head torch
- Ski goggles
- Sun glasses – CE rated 3 or 4 with side protection
- Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
- Wallet, passport, Alpine Club/BMC card (hut discount) and insurance docs
Hut Overnight Items
- Small wash kit
- Spare lightweight t-shirt/socks/pants
- Silk sheet liner
- Ear plugs
- (Hut slippers for indoor use, blankets/duvets and pillows are provided by the huts)
- Rucsac 35/45l – try and avoid ones covered in too many features, just ski and ice axe attachments required
- Ski mountaineering boots
- Skis with touring bindings – some ‘freeride’ bindings are also suitable
- Ski strap – to keep skis together on your rucksack if we need to carry them
- Ski poles – with good size 5cm+ baskets (telescopic poles are not needed)
- Climbing skins – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Harscheisen (ski crampons) – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Metal snow shovel – must be a full metal shovel (plastic blades don’t work in real avalanche debris!)
- Avalanche probe
- Avalanche transceiver – must be a modern digital model (older analogue models are now obsolete)
- Harness, with 120cm sling and locking karabiner
- Crampons – lightweight model
- Ice Axe – lightweight model
Your guide will have all other safety kit, first aid and survival equipment.
Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website, where we publish an annual review of the years best new skis, boots and touring equipment, plus a range of other interesting tips and recommendations. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!
Please visit our Equipment Hire page for recommended hire shops in your resort, and Alpine Guides hire equipment price list (safety equipment is provided free of charge on certain courses – please consult price inclusions).
For this trip you must have specialist travel insurance providing medical, emergency search/rescue and repatriation cover for off piste skiing and ski touring, as outlined in the trip itinerary. We also strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury. Please arrange your insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed to run.
Further details can be found on our insurance info page.