Vier Personen laufen mit Tourenski einen beschneiten Berg hinauf.

Winter sports

Two-day ski touring trip to Piz Dolf

  • #Ski tours
Portrait von Christian Aschwanden
Sales Consultant, Transa store Markthalle Bern
© Fotos

Some people have a full catalogue of tour ideas in their heads, others are glad of any tips. We show you the moderately difficult ski tour to Piz Dolf right next to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tectonic Arena Sardona.

We meet in Flims at 8 am. We’re going on a two-day ski tour with two friends from Transa, plus mountain guide Flo. There’s not a cloud in the sky; the night was cold, but the first rays of sunshine send temperatures shooting up – not the best scenario when it comes to avalanche risks. Would our schedule work out?

We opt to take the cable car for the first part of the climb. It whisks us up quickly via Naraus to the Grauberg mountain station, just above the Segnesboden – our starting point. This saves us valuable time and allows us to navigate the exposed slopes quickly. After a short descent from the station to Segnesboden, we put on our skins and crampons and ditch our first layers. The sun is already setting the tone up here at over 2,200 metres above sea level, and a tough climb lies ahead of us.

A sweat-inducing ascent

Before the start, we do the obligatory avalanche transceiver check. At a leisurely pace, we set off across the beautiful plateau towards the Tschingelhörner. We have seven kilometres and 600 metres of altitude ahead. It’s a fairly undemanding tour on paper, but we’re all heavily loaded up. Food supplies, enough water, a bottle of wine (we’re connoisseurs after all), crampons, cooker, down jackets – we’re prepared for anything. The hut where we want to spend the night isn’t open in winter: you can always expect the unexpected.

  • Verschneite Berglandschaft mit blauem Himmel, mitten drin fünf Personen am Skitouren.

    It starts on the flat...

    Photo © Jonas Jäggy
  • Fünf Personen mit Tourenski laufen in beschneiter Umgebung mit blauem Himmel den Berg hoch.

    ...and gets steeper...

    Photo © Jonas Jäggy
  • Eine Frau beim Skitouren, sie hat die Ski am Rucksack befestigt.

    ...and steeper.

    Photo © Jonas Jäggy
  • Dinner at the Segnes Pass hut.

    Photo © Jonas Jäggy

Slowly but surely, the flat terrain turns into a gentle, slightly undulating ascent. Thanks to a smart choice of route and careful assessment of the terrain, we find a line that barely exceeds 30 degrees. Special ski touring maps marked with the slope gradient are essential for planning. We move trance-like, metre by metre away from the Segnesboden below us towards the Segnes Pass. The snow has already softened somewhat, but should still be compact enough for the last, steep section before the hut. The avalanche situation is currently still stable, but will we make enough progress?

The final 100 metres are extremely steep. Due to the slippery firn surface and the slope’s gradient, we decide to don our skis – which makes our backpacks a lot heavier again. However, with the right carrying system, these extra kilos are easily transported on your back. Thank goodness for the right choice of backpack!

Breathtaking panorama at the pass summit

We’re just a few metres away from the Segnes Pass, the transition from Graubünden to Glarus. As we reach the top of the pass, the panoramic view is stunning. Way down in the valley we discover Elm – the vista of the surrounding peaks and valleys is phenomenal. Things are very quiet for a moment – everyone enjoys the moment for themselves and we really soak up the view.

I’m in the mountains a lot, and always have these kind of wow moments. Or is it the other way round? Am I always in the mountains for precisely these wow moments?

After a brief rest, we come across the Segnes Pass hut around the corner to the right. It clings to the rock just below the highest point of the pass like an eagle’s nest. This means it’s well protected – but it’s also covered in snow. So, not easy to get to – looks like we’re going to have to earn our camp for the night first.

Of course, we each have an avalanche shovel with us, which is also ideal for digging quickly even when there is no emergency. The ice axe is used as a supplement, as the footholds under the layer of snow have an insidious coating of ice.

Shovelling for supper after the ski tour

And then we discover our first surprise: a green, deep-frozen Toi Toi, 2,620 metres above sea level, defying wind and weather. We can hardly believe our eyes. After another bout of wild shovelling, the guardian of the hut, a massive iron door, gradually appears. Through it we get inside the hut. Unfortunately, the panoramic window was smashed some time ago, so this window has to remain locked. The Segnes Pass hut is privately owned and is not open during winter. However, it is possible to stay overnight in combination with a guided tour. It’s a shame that not everyone seems to respect this.

Next up is melting the snow, which is essential for an overnight stay in winter, both for food and drink. The time it takes is not to be underestimated. With every lump of melted snow, the anticipation of our evening meal and a cup of hot tea increases.

Delicious porcini mushroom risotto as an ultra-light menu

But we don’t lose our appetite that quickly. Thanks to the gas cooker, the team of chefs prepare a warm and hearty soup for us shortly afterwards. For the main course, we savour a wonderful porcini mushroom risotto with red wine. It’s not just the flavour that goes perfectly with this cold but cosy evening in the hut. Thanks to the small amount of rice and the light, dried porcini mushrooms, it turns out to be a real ultralight menu.

It’s steaming and smells incredibly good. Bundled up in all the layers of clothing we have, we enjoy the delicious meal. Over dessert, we briefly discuss the route for tomorrow. The plan is to go ski touring at Piz Dolf. Smart route selection and getting up early are the watchwords for the next day. A while later, full and a bit tired, we’re already wrapped up in the woollen blankets in our silk sleeping bags. Most of us opt to keep a down jacket on, too.

After a short, cold night, the alarm clock sounds at 6 am. We want to set off an hour later. Before that, we enjoy a cup of hot tea, some Trek n’ Eat muesli to get rid of some of the weight and the delicious fruit bread that Franziska digs out of from deep in her backpack.

Shortly afterwards, we’re off: another cloudless day is in store for us. Unlike yesterday, though, it’s freezing cold up here. The snow is frozen hard, and the softening of the firn snow we had hoped for has yet to happen.

Steep ascent

Our tour begins by descending the steep part of yesterday’s ascent and then keeping well to the left to head towards the upper Segnesboden. Then it’s on with the skins and crampons again. The climb is pretty tough, slippery and steep. We have to really focus: one wrong step and you’re sliding down the whole slope again. Luckily, we had waxed our skins again last night. This is doubly useful on ski tours in spring, as it prevents the skins from getting knobbly and provides better grip on frozen firn.

  • Vier Personen laufen im Schnee mit Tourenski steil den Berg hoch.

    After a short night, we made our way to the summit.

    Photo © Jonas Jäggy
  • Skitourenfahrer im Tiefschnee, geniesst die Abfahrt durch den Schnee.
    Photo © Jonas Jäggy

After crossing the upper Segnesboden, we catch a glimpse of today’s peak: Piz Dolf. From here we can also study the descent route. A fantastic slope with an incline of just over 40 degrees promises a thrilling descent. In high winter, the slope would be too dangerous owing to its steepness and the loose new or drift snow. In spring, though, with the slope still frozen and only the top layer softened, it’s sheer pleasure. Still, you can’t ski down without a climb first – so we set off on the final push. Step by step, we climb the steep firn flank and reach Piz Dolf via the north-west ridge. Proud of what we have achieved, we again marvel at the incredible views. It’s a pure summit high! Our mountain guide also surprises us with a small bottle of local Gentian schnapps – refreshment we were only too happy to accept.

And then, finally: the descent we’ve been anticipating for hours is at last upon us. After our stop at the top, the firn surface is nicely softened and the slope below is hard but grippy. Perfect conditions for a speedy descent. Franziska gets it spot on with her comment: ‘It’s like skiing on the icing on a cake.’

We enjoy the descent to the full, turn after turn, basking in the sunshine. What a fantastic ski tour!

Click here for the tour description.

Piz Dolf Round Trip

Start/Finish: Length: 16.2 km | Elevation: 1,050 m | Difficulty: medium

Arrival/departure: By train to Chur and from there by postal bus to Flims. From there, take the cable car to Grauberg station. We get our skins on there. You can find all information at:

Trip profile: Beautiful ski tour with a rewarding extra leg to the Segnes Pass hut at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Tectonic Arena Sardona.

Overnight stay: We spend the night in the basic, newly built Segnes Pass hut. The hut is privately owned and not staffed in winter. A combined offer including a mountain guide and overnight stay in the hut can be booked at

  • #Ski tours

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