Four true characters
Millions will recognise these views: The panoramas afforded by the Corvatsch, the Diavolezza, the Muottas Muragl and the Piz Nair have served as a backdrop for souvenir pictures for myriad guests from around the world. But professional photographers, and TV and film crews, too, are not immune to these Engadin vistas. They are some of the most spectacular of the Alps.
But no mountain is like the other, as will notice anyone who visits the four most popular lookout points of the Engadin. All four are true characters, rough on the outside, and revealing their idiosyncrasies on closer inspection. But they have one thing in common once get to know them, you’ll get to love them.
CORVATSCH (3’303 METRES)
BREAKFAST WITH JAMES BOND
At 3,303 metres, the Corvatsch offers the highest mountain cableway station in the region and a spectacular view. At breakfast time, the Bernina mountain range to the south seems to be within grasp. Looking west, on a clear day, you will see the Matterhorn and the Mont Blanc on the horizon. To the north, St. Moritz and the Corviglia literally lie at your feet.
Action scenes for Bond movies were filmed here, piano concerts have been held under a full moon sky, and, every spring, the world’s best freestylers make out the winner of the World Cup on the Corvatsch. To most, though, it is just the most diverse of all mountains. Whether you’re a skier or a snowboarder, a beginner or an accomplished off-piste skier, you will find just the right terrain to suit you.
Cable way departing from Silvaplana Surlej. Bus routes no. 1, 6 and 8 leave every 10 minutes from St. Moritz Signal. Pistes of all difficulties, big fun park, range of terrain for off-piste skiing (please take note of the avalanche bulletins and wildlife protection areas).
Our Tip: breakfast at the restaurant at the top, drinks at Fuorcla Surlej, lunch at Alpetta, and blueberry pie at Hahnensee.
DIAVOLEZZA (2,978 METRES)
THE MOUNTAIN OF CONTRASTS
On Diavolezza, the contrast couldn’t be any starker. It is the place where alpinists set off on their tours into the rock massif of the Bernina; it is also the place where touring guests from Asia and the Americas warily step onto the grid floor of the panoramic terrace, or where World Cup skiers train in search of the fastest line along the slalom poles. The ski season lasts from mid-October to the end of May, giving way seamlessly to the mountain summer.
The restaurant’s panoramic windows offer a splendid view of the Piz Palü, which many consider to be the most beautiful mountain in the Alps. Its three peaks tower above the Pers glacier, it is a sheer drop of some 900 metres. Hanging glaciers cover its broad shoulders. To an alpinist, no list of mountains climbed will be complete without the Piz Palü.
At night, when the cableway stops running, tranquillity descends on the Diavolezza. The touring guests have left, the sun is shining its last rays onto the Palü. Two or three groups of mountaineers partake of a wholesome meal, check their gear once again, and turn in early. Those not leaving for a tour the following day, linger on and enjoy another glass of wine. Later, the quiet of the night sets in on the mountain of contrasts. At four a.m., the alpinists will set off and conquer the Piz Palü.
Situated at the Bernina Pass, 10 km past Pontresina, on bus route no. 2 and Bernina railway. Slopes of medium difficulty and good terrain for off-piste skiing. Diavolezza mountain lodge with restaurant and accommodation.
Our Tip: Excursion with a guide to the Pers glacier or Piz Palü.
MUOTTAS MURAGL (2’453 M)
THE ROMANTIC ONE
Never mind Ipanema, Key West or Santorini: the most stunning sunsets take place on Muottas Muragl. The lakes of the Upper Engadine Valley stretch towards the horizon in a seemingly endless succession – sparkling mirrors in summer and a stretch of immaculate white in winter. Muottas, as the locals call it, is the mountain of pleasure – Muottas is the romantic one.
The funicular, Grisons’ first ever mountain railway, is reminiscent of the pioneering era. Built in 1907, even nowadays, it makes guests’ hearts beat faster. It is popular with walkers and with families who are headed for the 2.5-mile-long sledge run through the woods.
The evening will see gourmets arrive for a treat in one of the restaurants. Some will stay overnight in one of the romantic hotel’s 16 cosy pinewood rooms, each of which offers a unique mountain vista.
Here is where the painter Giovanni Segantini created his works of art for the 1990 Paris World Exhibition. The light and view on Muottas Muragl still fascinate thousands of visitors every year. Segantini’s heirs no longer paint – Instagram has become their canvass, and the world wide web their world exhibition.
Funicular from Punt Muragl; bus lines 1 and 2, trains from Samedan and Pontresina. Year-round, groomed walking and hiking trails. Sledge run to the valley (4,2 km). 16 rooms at the mountain hotel, no-frills grilled meats at the restaurant «Scatla» and gourmet mountain dining in the panoramic restaurant with outside terrace.
Our Tip: a private party with friends in the romantic «Villa Lyss» (up to 23 persons)
PIZ NAIR (3,057 METRES)
THE BLACK DIAMOND
Perched above St. Moritz and the Corviglia slopes like an oversized precious stone, the Piz Nair (‘black peak’), affords a view from 3,057 metres that caters to all tastes: the string of lakes along the Upper Engadine to the south, the Piz Julier and its glacier to the west, the endless sea of peaks to the north, and, eastwards, an unhindered view as far as the Dolomites.
Those afraid of heights will hesitate to step onto the observation platform’s grid floor, but the view – reason enough for many to come up – is as grandiose from the restaurant inside. Hollywood stars, tycoons and royalty are no strangers to the place. A trip to St. Moritz isn’t complete without a ride to the Piz Nair.
On its way up, the cable car passes the “free fall”. The world’s steepest start to a ski race catapults the riders from nought to onehundredand-forty in just four seconds. Even the most seasoned of pros will draw a deep breath before hurling himself down the free fall.
On the other side, the ski slope is gentler. It rarely gets hectic, the chairlift at Lej da la Pesch (‘lake of peace’) fully living up to its name. The super steep slope to the bottom of the Grischa chairlift or the endless Val Schlattain ending at the Glüna chairlift will take you back to the Corviglia side, the Alps’ premier ski area.
Spectacular cableway departing from Corviglia (St. Moritz, 2,486 m). Panoramic restaurant and terrace. Red and blue slopes. Off-piste skiing is only recommended for those who know the area well and with a guide.
Our Tip: descent into the Val Suvretta through powder snow (only with a guide).