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Trek round the Bernina with a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of The Tour of the Bernina
5 Mar 2015
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.3cm
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The Tour of the Bernina

9 day tour in Switzerland and Italy and Tour of Italy's Valmalenco

by Gillian Price
Book published by Cicerone Press

Guidebook describing a 9-stage (119km) route around the Piz Bernina massif in the Alps on the Swiss-Italian border near St Moritz, and the 8-stage (94km) Alta Via Valmalenco exploring the Valmalenco valley, in the shadow of Monte Disgrazia. The Tour of the Bernina is suitable for first-time trekkers but the Alta Via needs some experience.

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Weight: 240g

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This guidebook explores two treks in the Bernina region of the Swiss-Italian Alps. The Tour of the Bernina is an 9-stage trek circling the Piz Bernina massif, 119km long and suitable for beginner trekkers. Also included in this guide is the 8-stage Alta Via Valmalenco just to the south of the Bernina. Although shorter, at 94km long, this is a more challenging route suitable for trekkers with more experience.

Whether skirting above St. Moritz and below snow-capped giants on the Tour of the Bernina, or climbing over wild, high passes and through isolated mountains in the Italian Valmalenco by Monte Disgrazia, the treks offer incredible experiences. Both feature spectacular peaks towering over snow fields and perfect alpine pastures, with accommodation in comfortable alpine guesthouses and high altitude huts. 

This guide contains detailed route descriptions in combination with plenty of background and practical information.

  • Activities
    Multi-day Alpine trekking
  • Seasons
    Late June to late September.
  • Centres
    In Switzerland: St Moritz, Sils Maria, Pontresina, Maloja, Bernina Pass, Poschiavo In Italy: Sondrio, Chiareggio, Chiesa in Valmalenco
  • Difficulty
    While no glacier crossings are involved on these treks, some basic alpine walking experience is recommended. Clear paths and old mule tracks are followed for the most part, along with routes over rough rocky terrain, and snow cover is to be expected early in the season.
  • Must See
    Awesome glaciers from Val Roseg, Rifugio Del Grande and Rifugio Marinelli in Valmalenco, and the Diavolezza belvedere. The Bernina Express train between Tirano and St Moritz experiences fantastic views and can be used to access the Bernina trek. Spectacular peaks en route include 4049m Piz Bernina, 3937m Piz Roseg, 3678m Monte Disgrazia, 3323m Pizzo Scalino.

September 2016

Tour of the Bernina
end Stage 1 Fuorcla Surlej has accommodation from mid-July to end August. NB Reservation essential!

Stage 7A descent should be 1300m

Tour of the Bernina
Stage 2- Val Fex to Isola variant
The upper part of the descent path from Marmore towards Curtins has been closed because of a rockfall.
As a result instead of 'Keep R at the junction' take the official diverted path L of the junction which goes slightly higher above and parallel to the original route and then descends to rejoin it further along. Path is shown on the Kompass map.

Alta Via Della Valmalenco
Stage 1
Rifugio Cometti Grandi is closed for the time being

Stage 2
Rifugio Gerli-Porlo is CAI

Stage 3
Suggestion: Stay at Rifugio Tartaglione Crispo so that you can complete the high level loop via Rifugio del Grande Camerini pack-free.

Stage 4
The popular Rifugio Lagu Palu may be pre-booked by large groups at weekends. Excellent alternative accommodation is available at Rifugio Motta on the opposite side of the lake. Allow one hour to walk to it. Tel 0342451406 or cell 3403368496

(Thanks to David Hasell and Gustav Dobrzynski)

September 2015

Bernina Tour, Stage 1: the rifugio at Fuorcla Surlej is reportedly no longer offering accommodation

(Thanks to John Atherton)

Appendix B

The Tour of the Bernina
Stage 2
Hotel Silserhof is in Sils Maria
Sporthotel and Chesa Alpina are in Maloja

Stage 3
Hotel Genziana and Hotel Chiareggio are in Chiareggio

Stage 5
Fior di Roccia and Edelweiss are in Franscia

The Alta Via Valmalenco
Stage 8
Hotels: Fior di Monte is at Caspoggio while Chalet Rezia and Miravalle are at Chiesa in Valmalenco.
nb please remove 'CAS, open etc' from last two hotel listings.


The Tour of the Bernina
The Alta Via Valmalenco
About glaciers
Plants and flowers
Getting there
Getting around
Tourist information
When to go
Food and drink
What to take
Waymarking and maps
Dos and don’ts
Using this guide
The Tour of the Bernina
Stage 1 Pontresina to Fuorcla Surlej
Stage 2 Fuorcla Surlej to Maloja
Stage 3 Maloja to Rifugio Longoni
Stage 3A Maloja to Chiareggio
Stage 3B Chiareggio to Rifugio Longoni
Stage 4 Rifugio Longoni to Lago Palù
Stage 5 Lago Palù to Rifugio Carate Brianza
Stage 6 Rifugio Carate Brianza to Rifugio Bignami
Stage 7 Rifugio Bignami to Cavaglia
Stage 7A Rifugio Bignami to Selva
Stage 7B Selva to Cavaglia
Stage 8 Cavaglia to Berghaus Diavolezza
Stage 8A Cavaglia to Ospizio Bernina
Stage 8B Ospizio Bernina to Berghaus Diavolezza
Stage 9 Berghaus Diavolezza to Pontresina
The Alta Via Valmalenco
Stage 1 Torre di Santa Maria to Rifugio Bosio Galli
Stage 2 Rifugio Bosio Galli to Rifugio Ventina/Rifugio Gerli-Porro
Stage 3 Rifugio Ventina/Rifugio Gerli-Porro to Chiareggio
Stage 4 Chiareggio to Lago Palù
Stage 5 Lago Palù to Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri
Stage 6 Rifugio Marinelli Bombardieri to Rifugio Bignami
Stage 7 Rifugio Bignami to Rifugio Cristina
Stage 8 Rifugio Cristina to Caspoggio
Appendix A Glossary
Appendix B Accommodation
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