New Itinerary for 2021! – the Bernina Ski Tour traverses the most extensive high altitude glacier touring region in Eastern Switzerland. Big days and complicated terrain make this a challenging and rewarding venue for experienced ski mountaineers wishing to enjoy a week of great summits and superb glacier skiing.
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 technical ski mountaineering week aimed at experienced ski tourers looking for big glacial scenery, climbing summits and plenty of technical descents. Stable conditions are required to complete the route, which weaves its way through some impressive scenery, and ascends a number of classic peaks just under the 4000m mark.
Trip Reports >> Bernina Ski Mountaineering
This is an advanced level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3-4 and Tech Level 3-4 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). You need to be an experienced ski mountaineer with previous week long hut to hut touring experience, including some roped climbing or cramponing experience in order to join this tour. Typically there will be 1000-1500m of climb a day and sections of roped climbing and crampon work, so you can expect to be skinning for 3-5 hours a day. Type of ascent: we use 15% uplift and 85% skinning on the tour – approx 6300m of skinning up, 7300m of skiing down.
One IFMGA guide skiing with 4 clients.
Included in price
- 6 days of guiding
- All guides expenses
- 2 nights hotel accommodation including breakfast
- 5 nights accommodation in mountain huts, including breakfast and evening meals
Excluded from price (see course factsheet for extra cost estimates)
- Uplift and local travel
- Lunches and drinks, evening meals in St Moritz
- Flights and transfers to resort
- Equipment hire
Our meeting point for the Bernina Ski Tour is St Moritz – we will send hotel details along with your final joining instructions. 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. For more info please read the Using Alpine Huts article which provides an overview of typical 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 in St Moritz 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. Overnight in the valley.
Early train to Diavolezza – from where we make an acclimatisation tour up to the shoulder of Piz Palu in order to get a great N facing run back down again. Overnight at Berghaus Diavolezza at the top of the lift system. 1000m ascent, 1000m descent.
Ascent of Bellavista (3888m) and/or Piz Argient (3945m) and then on to the Marco E Rosa hut.
1250m ascent, 650m descent.
If conditions are good, the plan is to climb Piz Palu (3901m) and ski on down into Italy to the Marinelli hut.
500m ascent, 1100m descent.
A long climb back into Switzerland via the Fuorcla de la Sella, before climbing La Sella (3564m) to ski a great run down to the Coax hut.
1050m ascent, 1250m descent.
Ascent of Piz Gluschaint (3594m) before enjoying the long run down in to Val Roseg. Overnight at the Hotel Roseg.
1000m ascent, 1500m descent.
Ascent of Piz Rosatsch (3134m) before making the long and classic descent down to St Moritz.
1200m ascent, 1400m descent.
Return travel should be arranged on Saturday morning from St Moritz, after your final nights accommodation.
Your course starts and finishes in St Moritz, a convenient access point for touring in this region of Switzerland and Italy nearby. The most common way to reach St Moritz is fly into Zurich, then take a train along the main line (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 St Moritz: 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 St Moritz 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 St Moritz 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).
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 3/4, and Ski Tech Level 4:
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)
Fitness Level 4
You do 4+ hours CV training/sport per week. A 70+ mile cycle ride, or 20+ mile hillwalk on a weekend would hold no fears. If so inclined, you might be the kind of person who has done longer road sportives/challenge rides, a ~3.30hr marathon or other similar endurance events. Keen hillwalkers who happily knock off 3-4+ munros in a day also have this kind of fitness and endurance. On skis: you can skin at 400m/hr or could handle 4-6hrs skinning a day. (ie 1000-1400m+ 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.
Tech Level 4
Advanced Off Piste Skier. You can put turns in through heavier snow and on icy 40dg slopes, but difficult breakable crusts and skiing a fresh track off piste in zero visibility are still somewhat challenging! *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Gold – Expert*
Likely to say: I’ve been skiing ten/twenty years – I’d like to do your ‘……’ tour.
Our Advice: You will enjoy our advanced level trips. If you are new to touring – then you could do a Haute Route with two or three days of skills training beforehand (but don’t overlook the physical fitness needed as well). Mileage is the best way to improve your ability level.
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
- Velcro 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!
Backcountry UK in Ilkley offer an excellent ski boot fitting service, one of the best ranges of ski mountaineering equipment in the UK and top notch advice.
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.