Michi Bösiger, Tatonka employee from Switzerland and passionate ski-tour enthusiast presents one of his favorite tours: The ascent to the Bärenhorn summit takes about four hours, and then you have a wonderful two-hour descent.
Clear views and wonderful light
The Bärenhorn rises up in the original and unspoiled picturesque Safien Valley in the Canton of Grisons. The ski-tour on this 2929 m high summit is popular and is extremely impressive as the Safien Valley is known for its especially panoramic views and wonderful light.
There are many kinds of ski tours and ice-climbing possibilities here. Excursions to the nearby Nature Park Beverin or to the Ruinaulta, the “Grand Canyon” of Switzerland are also definitely worthwhile!
The ascent begins at the mountain inn Turrahus in Thalkirch at 1694m above sea level. You keep to the left of the Rabiusa stream and then under the ice falls along the Chracha, also a popular destination for ice climbers. Further you continue below the Safierberg to Point 2811 (above sea level). Here you go past on the right then ascend the ridge to the summit. In icy conditions on this last stage of ascent, skis or snowboards must be attached to the rucksack and the further climb is undertaken with the aid of an ice pick.
For the descent you can choose the same way or descend the very steep corridor via the Bärenlücke, then through the Grossalp and Piänetsch and continue to follow the Rabiusa stream back to the Turrahus.
This second descent however, is suitable only for extremely good and experienced ski tourers and then only when snow and avalanche conditions are deemed safe!
For this tour, full ski tour equipment including crampons is necessary. An ice pick for the summit is recommended. Ideal is a 25 to 35 liter rucksack, for example, the Tatonka model Cima di Basso 35.
Safety equipment that you should of course have: avalanche transceiver, probe, shovel and maps.
At this height it can be extremely cold and you should therefore have warm clothing in your rucksack for the summit and descent. For this tour it is ideal to dress with layers of clothing (several thinner layers in combination).
Sunglasses are essential.
A 0.75 or 1 liter thermos flask with hot tea (e.g. Tatonka Hot&Cold Stuff) is highly recommended. You can also get tea in the Gasthaus Turrahus. The provisions you take with you should be those that don’t freeze: Muesli bars, chocolate, bread, cheese, dried fruits, nuts. Not suitable for example are oranges, as these could freeze.
Arrival by car
Take the highway to Chur. Then branch off at Bonaduz in the direction of Versam and you will arrive in the spectacular Rhine canyon. You see Ruinaulta and follow the narrow bending road upwards until the road forks. The right road goes to the village of Versam and to Valendas, the left fork takes you into the valley, to Tenna and Safien. Continue to Thalkirch, at 1700 meters above sea level.
Arrival by public transport
With the “Rhätische Bahn” from Chur, get out at Versam Station and take the Postauto to Safien, as far as Thalkirch/Turrahus.
There are then of course numerous possibilities to get to Safiental, on foot, by bike or on skis. Whether in summer or winter there are many routes and passes to this valley.
Summit: Bärenhorn, 2929 above sea level
Region: Switzerland – Grisons/Graubünden
737465 | 159810 (Switzerland)
46:34:32: N | 9:13:55: E
257 S (Scale 1:50 000)
Ski-tour / Snowboard-tour
Proficiency level: rather difficult, only for experienced ski-tourers
Time: approx. 4 hours to the summit, 2 hours for the descent
Altitude difference to the summit: 1235 m
Start and end station: Mountain Gasthaus Turrahus near Thalkirch in Safiental:
Overnight accommodation possible if booked in advance under telephone 0041 81 647 12 03
Further information for planning your tour
(c) Text and Photos by Michi Bösiger