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Location: Pontresina, Upper Engadine, Canton Graubünden
Distance: 13km /8.1 miles one way
Duration: 5-7 hours
Blessed with the kind of varied scenery that is sure-fire fodder for postcards and Swiss calendars, Val Roseg is certainly one of the loveliest valleys in the Upper Engadine and on a par with any in the Swiss Alps. Woodland, mountain streams, meadows, towering peaks, and a convergence of glaciers make the valley a year-round attraction. For summer hikers the capstone is an ascent to one of the surrounding ridgelines for unmatched views of the region.
In this hike we've chosen an ascent to Fuorcla Surlej, not only because it offers great views, but because it also offers a quick decent by tram, allowing you to make an efficient one-way hike and still take in so much of what Val Roseg has to offer. But once you're in the Val Roseg you'll quickly sense what a great base it is for other hikes in all direction.
From the heart of Pontresina, walking in the direction of the railway station, follow the waymarked route in the direction of Val Roseg along a wide graded road (which you'll recognize as also being a superb cross country ski trail in the winter). The road and adjoining trails gently ascend the valley through lush woods and manage to stay on the valley floor as they parallel and cross the glacial drainage of Ova da Roseg.
Soon the trees give way to meadows and the views from the valley floor open up to reveal the mountains on all sides. The Roseg and Tschierva glaciers appear at the head of the valley and to your left. If you decided to continue in that direction you wouldn't be the least bit disappointed with a stay at the Coaz hut or the Tschierva hut, both of which offer dramatic and face-to-face encounters with these glaciers. But the route offered here is headed up the slope to the right.
Before you begin your serious elevation gain, stop for a rest-or better yet, lunch and dessert-at the beloved Hotel Roseggletscher. If you're short on time, or feel content with staying on the valley floor, you could make this the turnaround point for and out-and-back hike. But if you're still full of energy and infected with a bit of summit fever, then continue on past the hotel in the direction of Fuorcla Surlej.
The trail up the hillside winds through forests and soon breaks through timberline to reveal view of the valley and the glaciers to the southeast. Ascending some rocky slopes on good trails and with a couple stream crossings you'll reach the glacially-scraped rock of Fuorcla Surlej and the Fuorcla Surlej hut at 2755 meters/9038 feet.
For the descent, continue over the saddle to the wide trail which descends and loops a glacial basin in the direction of the Murtèl tram station (2700 meters/8858 feet), a midmountain stop between the Corvatsch summit station and the base in the town of Surlej. From the Surlej tram station there are frequent busconnections back to St. Moritz and Pontresina.