Hiking in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut in Graubünden

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut
We cross the green valley and walk along the river towards the station of Bernina Suot. The landscape is now less green and gradually becomes rockier.


Green valleys, rocky landscapes in the glacial plains, Black Lake and White Lake, the hike to the Sassal Mason Hut is very picturesque. Take your time and taste the specialties of the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. Travel with the Bernina Express to admire exceptional panoramas.


 

Departure for our hike in Graubünden, or Grisons, to the Sassal Mason Hut

Our long-time friends now living in Tasmania have decided to come back to Switzerland for their holidays. Like us, they love to hike. Given the number of hiking possibilities in Switzerland, making a choice is sometimes more difficult than it seems. We didn’t know very well the Grisons (or Graubünden in Swiss-German), and Olga suggested to see how a hike in this region would look like.

We leave Geneva in the morning for a long journey to the Grisons to discover the Sassal Mason hut, or more precisely, Sassal Mason mountain hotel. The proposed hiking trails for Sassal Mason start from Ospizio Bernina, Alp Grüm or Cavaglia, and they are rather short. We decide to start from Pontresina to make a longer hike.

Map of hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

 

Departure for the Sassal Mason Hut from Pontresina

Once we parked our car, we begin our hike from Pontresina, a mountain village located in the Upper Engadine, with a history dating back to medieval times.

We head towards Morteratsch. The path is flat and easy. We pass through the forest and follow the hiking trail to the station of Surovas.

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

On our way, we encounter a few herds of cows.

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

The path continues through the woods and meadows before reaching the Morteratsch railway station.

We don’t stop to see the Morteratsch Glacier as our hike is quite long. We’ll do it on our way back. Thanks to the good railway network, it’s very easy to make your hike longer or shorter.

The trail, which was flat so far, begins to climb. We pass by the beautiful Cascata da Bernina (Bernina Cascade). Now the trail, like the railway line along the road, becomes a succession of turns.

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

 
We pass by the stations of Bernina Suot and Diavolezza.

We cross the green valley and walk along the river towards the station of Bernina Suot. The landscape is now less green and gradually becomes rockier.

Our path passes by Diavolezza, the station, where one can take a cable car to go to 3’000m to admire the Diavolezza Glacier and the snow-capped peaks, and to breathe clean mountainous air. There are several hiking trails for those who would like to hike or you can simply stop at the high-altitude restaurant.

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

We continue hiking in the valley and at regular intervals, we see the famous red trains of the Bernina Express passing by. The rails are sometimes very close to our trail. Despite the proximity of the road and the railway, the valley is very peaceful and quiet. We have a splendid view of the mountains and the glaciers.

Bernina Express, hiking to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Bernina Express, hiking to the Sassal Mason Hut
Beware, when the path passes under the railway bridge, there are plenty of cyclists going down at full speed!

We continue our hike to the Sassal Mason hut along the small Lej Nair, or Black Lake.

Our trail passes through the Lej Nair (Black Lake in Romanche). The Black Lake received its name due to the colour of its water. The sun disappears for a while, and the impression of the black colour of the lake becomes even more pronounced.

Lej Nair, or Black Lake, on the way to the Sassal Mason Hut

Lej Nair, or Black Lake, on the way to the Sassal Mason Hut
The trail heads towards Lago Bianco, or White Lake.

We arrive at Lago Bianco (White Lake in Italian) located at 2,234m above sea level. With its milky blue water, this lake-reservoir is stunning. It’s motionless and silent. The lake-reservoir was formed by the two dams, Scala and Atlas, on the site of two natural lakes (Lago Bianco and Lago della Scala). Similar to the Black Lake, the colour of its water gave the name to the White Lake.

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Lago Bianco, or White Lake, on the way to the Sassal Mason Hut

Lago Bianco, or White Lake, on the way to the Sassal Mason Hut

In this high mountain landscape, it seems almost unreal to see very modern red trains passing by carrying passengers between Alp Grüm and Ospizio Bernina.

Bernina Express, hiking to the Sassal Mason Hut

We continue our hike along the shore of the Lago Bianco and arrive at a pretty Roman or medieval looking dam made of stones.

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

The trail begins to climb not far from the Sassal Mason hut.

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut
Some cows welcome us just before arriving.

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

 

Sassal Mason Hut

From the distance, we can see the Sassal Mason hut with its two small round structures made of stones, in the shape of an igloo, located next to each other.

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Built at 2,355m altitude, the Sassal Mason hut will be our place to stay for a night. This mountain hotel offers a beautiful view of Italy, with the town of Tirano at the end of the valley, the terminus of the Bernina Express on the Italian side.

Sassal Mason mountain hotel above Alp Grüm in Switzerland

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

We usually stay overnight in the mountain huts but this time the place is more like a cosy small hotel with a nice restaurant. There is a choice between double rooms and dormitories, and we settle into the dormitory. We feel lucky, there is no one but us.

Sassal Mason hut above Alp Grum in Switzerland

Sassal Mason hut above Alp Grüm in Switzerland

We take advantage of the restaurant to taste the local specialties of Val Poschiavo and Valtelina, polenta with mushrooms among others, as well as the “crotti” wines coming from typical cellars, built in stones, of the Val Poschiavo.

Sassal Mason mountain hotel above Alp Grüm in Switzerland
Descent to the Alp Grüm

We decide to go to Morteratsch Glacier by train in order to have another perspective on the Lago Bianco. This is a great opportunity to experience the mythical train ride.

The next morning after breakfast we descend from the Sassal Mason hotel to the Alp Grüm station.

Sassal Mason hut above Alp Grum in Switzerland

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

The railway station, a nice building made of stones, is located below the Sassal Mason, on the line of the Bernina Express from Pontresina to Poschiavo and Tirano.

Alp Grüm has a hotel-restaurant with a panoramic terrace, where one can taste local specialties, including Val Poschiavo, the Engadine and Valtelline wines.

Train ride to Morteratsch

We have a choice between the regional train, InterRegio, and the famous Bernina Express. As the seats of the Bernina Express must be booked in advance, we take the regional train, which follows the same route but without the panoramic wagons. The Bernina Express is an iconic train journey, with its grandiose landscapes and the itinerary classified as a UNESCO heritage.

Bernina Express, hiking to the Sassal Mason Hut

View from train on Lago Bianco on the way from the Sassal Mason Hut

The train runs along the mountain and passes by the Lago Bianco with its magnificent green-white milky colour, and glacial plains with a rocky, tree-free land. From a large window of the train, we have an exceptional panorama, which leaves unforgettable memories.

View from train on Lago Bianco on the way from the Sassal Mason Hut

Hike in Graubünden (Grisons) in Switzerland to the Sassal Mason Hut

 

Morteratsch Glacier

We get off the train at Morteratsch and follow the path to the tongue of the glacier. In less than one hour of very easy walking, we arrive to the glacial tongue. The vision of this frozen river is impressive. Unfortunately, the glacier is melting and retracting a little more each year. Along the way, there are stops to learn more about the retreat of the Morteratsch Glacier.

Morteratsch Glacier in the Bündner Alps in Switzerland
After this short tour of the glacier, we take a train from Morteratsch station in the direction of Pontresina, our point of departure.

We made a very good choice for our hike, and we are thinking of exploring a little bit more the Engadine region during our next walks.

 

Practical Information

Access: Sassal Mason Hut is located in the canton of Grisons, or Graubünden, in the Bernina mountain range. It’s accessible from Pontresina, Ospizio Bernina, Cavaglia and Alp Grüm.

Duration:

• Pontresina – Sassal Mason: 4h15
• Sassal Mason – Alp Grüm: 35 min
• Morteratsch – Pontresina: 1h15

There is also the possibility of hiking from Pontresina to Ospizio Bernina (3h30), from Ospizio Bernina to Alp Grüm and Cavaglia (3h), and from Cavaglia to Poschiavo (1h45).

For return, you can take the same route in the opposite direction (Sassal Mason – Pontresina: 3h40), go to the Alp Grüm and take a regional train or walk to Ospizio Bernina (1h40).

Difficulty: hike to the Sassal Mason Hut from Pontresina is easy: T1 (easy, hiking), mainly flat but long, 18km.

Accommodation:

Sassal Mason Hut website.
Sassal Mason Hut is open from the end of June to October.
Individual rooms and dormitories with mattresses, pillows and duvets at disposal.
For hygienic reasons, visitors, who are staying in the dormitories, must bring their own sleeping bag or linen to stay overnight.
Reservations required – half board (evening meal, overnight stay, breakfast).

Additional Information:

Pontresina’s website offers a good choice of hiking trails and other activities to do in the region.

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Written by
Errol & Olga

Written by ANYWAYINAWAY

Olga and Errol are the Swiss-Russian couple behind ANYWAYINAWAY. Passionate about unique culture and traditions, they decided to take career breaks and explore the world with the intention to expand awareness and provide new perspectives to the understanding of ethnic minority people, customs, traditions and culture. They also show the beauty of our planet and try to find something interesting in the ordinary.

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