Leaving the city of Zurich and the stress of the tourist resorts like Davos behind me, I drive over the Flüela Pass, through the Swiss National Park over the Fuorn Pass (Ofenpass) into Val Müstair.
The Flüela Pass connects Davos with the Lower Engadine. The pass is 2’383m high and is closed during the winter months. Alternatively, the Julier Pass from Tiefencastel to St. Moritz or the car transport by train through the Vereina can be used. In winter, the Flüela is a test track for BMW. The road is partly very steep, therefore the brakes often run hot in heavy vehicles (especially motorhomes). Please use your engine brake. Rule: always go down the same gear you used to go up. Which means: uphill mainly 2nd gear, downhill too. Then your brakes won’t run hot.
Ofenpass | Fuorn Pass
In earlier times iron ore was mined, which was melted in masonry furnaces directly on the mountain. Some of the remains of the walls can still be found near hiking trails. The name Ofenpass also comes from these times as Ofen (german) means furnace.
The Ofenpass connects Zernez and the Swiss National Park with the Val Müstair. This is the only Swiss access road. The pass is open all year round.
Watch video of the tour on Youtube here.
From South Tyrol
From Italy you can reach Val Müstair via the South Tyrol from Merano or from the north via the Reschen Pass.
Stilfser Joch and Umbrail Pass |Stelvio and Passo Umbrail
From June to October, the access road over the Stelvio and Umbrail Pass is a frequently used route. On the Stelvio you meet many motorcyclists and cyclists crossing the second highest asphalted pass (2’757m) of the Alps. The highest is the Col d’Iseran (2’770 m) and is located in France. On the pass summit of the Umbrailpass is the Swiss border to Italy. Until a few years ago the Umbrailpass was not asphalted. With its narrow serpentines it is a challenge for every driver. I recommend this road only pass experienced drivers. Both passes are only open in summer from the end of May to October.
I spend my weekend in Müstair. It is also home to the world-famous UNESCO cultural heritage site, the Clostra Son John (St. Johann Monastery), which was included in the list for its unique Carolingian art and culture. More information here.
Müstair lies on the border to South Tyrol with Taufers and Mals. The small village is characterized by sheep and livestock breeding, as well as agriculture. Here the well-known salami “Salzis” is still produced without animals from mass husbandry.
The Camping Muglin is located on the outskirts of the village, directly on the Rambach, a mountain stream.
My favourite campsite in Switzerland! The site is family-run. The sauna is open every evening. The sanitary facilities are in excellent condition and are cleaned several times a day. Adjacent to the campsite is a restaurant with bar and beautiful terrace. Mainly local dishes are served here. A barbecue evening can also be organised on request. The meat comes from Val Müstair. On the adjacent farm it is also possible to buy meat from the farm shop. There is also a large children’s playground. The camping consists of a large meadow and most of the spacious pitches have their own water and electricity connections. More information here.
Climate and weather
In summer the climate is Mediterranean. It can often be very dry for weeks. In the summer months, especially at the end of July/August, thunderstorms frequently occur in the evenings. But these usually disappear quickly again and at the latest the next morning the sky shines again in the deepest azure blue. For hikes in the high mountains I recommend a return to the valley by 6 pm at the latest due to the danger of thunderstorms.
Hike Piz Umbrail over the Lai da Rims to Sta. Maria
Ascent: approx. 500 m
Descent: approx. 1650 m
Duration: 4 to 6 hours
Requirements: Free from giddiness, surefootedness, hiking equipment
Watch video on Youtube here.
Umbrailpass | Passo Umbrail | 2505 m
I start on Saturday morning at 09.10h from the monastery St. Johann with the post bus to Stelvio. The bus journey must be reserved in advance. You can find information here. My bus ride ends at the Swiss-Italian border on the Umbrail (Passo Umbrail) at 2’505 m. Directly behind the restaurant the ascent to Piz Umbrail begins. The hiking trail leads me steeply uphill along the military-historical path over rocks, scree fields and partly also snow.
The trail is alos known as a military histroy path therefore there are signs with detailed descriptions from the First World War at the time of the Swiss border occupation.
Piz Umbrail | 3030 m
Difference in altitude (ascent): approx. 500 m
Duration: approx. 1.25 hours
Since I am not in a hurry and want to enjoy the view and nature, I take breaks again and again. Of course, it will take me longer until I reach the summit.
After about 1.5 hours I reach the Piz Umbrail. Since I am still out early in the year, there are not many hikers yet and I can enjoy the view and peace completely for myself. This the right place for a lunch break. Sometimes bearded vultures can also be observed, but today he does not want to show himself.
Of course, a detailed entry in the summit book should not be missing. So, don’t forget! I also find my entry from 2016. 🙂
View of the Ortler massif and the Stilfser Joch
I am lucky and the Ortler massif with a height of 3’905 m is not in the clouds and the glacier is clearly visible. In the foreground, the road to Stilfser Joch winds up in serpentines. The summer skiing area is already open. The 360° view is really impressive, a feeling as if you were standing on the roof of the world and looking down to the ground.
Descent to Lai da Rims
Difference in altitude: approx. 700 m
Duration: approx. 1.25 hours
But even at the beginning of July it is still quite fresh at about 3’000 m and we start our descent to the Lai da Rims after a half-hour break. The trail continues on rocky and stony ground, partly over snow fields. After about 45 minutes, the turquoise mountain lake Lai da Rims appears, a goose bumps moment. In the lake the clouds and the blue sky are reflected, at the edge the green mountain meadow and the mountain slopes are partly still covered with snow. After another half hour we arrive at the Lai da Rims.
Lai da Rims | 2,396 m
The lake belongs to Clostra Son Jon in Müstair. There are trout in the lake, but a permit is required to fish. The lake is very impressive because of its turquoise colours and the clear water. If no wind blows and the water does not curl, the clouds reflect in the lake and it looks as if there are two skies. Fascinating and very impressive. There is plenty of time to linger here.
Sta. Maria | 1’375 m | Descent below the Lai da Rims
Difference in altitude: approx. 1’000m
Duration: approx. 2.5 hours (on foot)
The path continues down into the valley below the Lai da Rims with a view on the waterfalls. Sometimes the path is very steep again. Slowly your knees become noticeable and it is good to arrive down in the valley at the Alp Sot. From here you comfortably follow a forest road to Sta. Maria. However, this drags itself and it needs nevertheless again approx. 1.5 hours. Alternatively you can rent a mountain bike at Alp Sot and drive down to Müstair. However, this must be reserved until 7 pm the day before and the key must be collected. Further information can be found here.
Since we have not rented a mountain bike, we start the descent ant take the post bus from Sta. Maria to Müstair. Happy and with one more adventure in our luggage we reach the campsite and enjoy a quiet relaxed evening with an ice-cold beer, of course. 😉
The next days – relaxation and enjoyment
The next day Romeo and I enjoy the peace and quiet on the camping site and take a short ride on the mountain bike. We don’t want to do more, because we first have to absorb the impressions of the wonderful hike of the previous day.
Our return journey takes us over the Ofen Pass and the Flüela Pass back home to the lowlands of Zurich.
But I am sure that I will come back to my favourite valley, because there are still some hikes and mountain bike tours that I want to do. For example from the Ofenpass over the Alp Buffalora through the Alp Mora. I will definitely report on it.
Small encyclopedia for Rumantsch
Allegra! – Greetings, be cheerful!
Bun di – Good Morning
Buna saira – Good evening
Grazia – Thank you
Sta bain – Good bye
Viva! – Cheers! Cheers literally: to life!
Piz – Mountain Peak
Passo – Pass
Lai – Lake