Steep walk along the Corn Suvretta

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Sports & Travel, Story

No wind, blue sky, sunshine and at least more snow than at home (we leave the quality out). Sounds good, doesn’t it? We think so too and get out of the warm car despite the indicated -12°C at Alp Güglia, just below the Julierpass.

The parking lot has recently been beautifully cleared, but this means that the nice little snow steps that led over the crash barrier yesterday have now been removed. So our ski tour starts for me (with my short 164 cm) with a small unjointed climbing inlay on the snow cover of about one meter height. 😄 Fortunately the camera was not yet ready.

Warming sunrays over the Piz Polaschin

Between the flanks of the Piz Valletta and the Botta dal Tiroler (Tiroler? Yes, Tiroler) we follow the track up to the Valletta dal Güglia. The path follows the course of the stream and is easy to find thanks to the many tracks. Falko devotes himself during the further ascent to the camera and the GoPro, while I test my rental skis extensively today. The skis are not really light, but in contrast to my own adhesive skins, the sticky skins I got for the rental skis hold better in the cold temperatures (I will miss the advantages of quickly stowed adhesive skins on windy summits in the future). But more important than the skins is the binding. I have not been satisfied with my previous Fritschi Vipec since day one and so I am now testing an ATK pin binding (in the shop I will choose the ultra proven standard binding from Dynafit 😉).

Movement against the cold

Back to the tour. We leave the Piz Julier on the right as we approach the Corn Suvretta. In the rocky creek we slip between Muottin and Il Nes before we turn right towards Fuorcla Chamoutsch. But as we do not want to get into the saddle, we keep left at 2900 m.a.s.l. and cross to the rocky ledge that now separates us as the last ‘bastion’ from the last summit slope of the Corn Suvretta.

Kick turns!

Until here the tour was comfortable and easy. Pleasant ascent, easy to walk, no technical difficulties – one foot in front of the other. But next on the agenda is a slope of about 100m length and 30-35° steep. So, what you need are kick turns in steep terrain, in a channel lined with jagged rocks. I guess you could say that’s my thing.

How the hell am I supposed to make a kick turn here???

I’m having second thoughts about doing this. But Falko is strangely sure that I can do it, so he stomps off. With a relief distance I follow doubtfully afterwards in the direction of the first kick turn – step, step, step, tramp down space, put the poles down, mountain ski around, shift my weight, valley ski around and on – lo and behold, the first two kick turns work out quite well. I am getting a little more confident. But then! Suddenly it is steeper, the mountain ski doesn’t want to go the way I do, I stand unsteadily, my legs cramp and the rest too. Shift my weight? No chance. I can’t make a kick turn now. Panic! What do I do now? I can’t get around here. “I can’t help you from up here either, don’t be a baby!” it comes at me from above. That doesn’t help me either, unfortunately. I can’t go back and forth. Shit. Okay, take back the mountain ski. Take a rest and breathe. Then next try, by now I’m totally desperate and scared. Then it’s finally working. Five steps of relief, then comes the next terrible kick turn and another and another and another… And how am I supposed to ski that down later? I’ll put that thought aside for a moment.

"All crap!"

After feeling endless meters of altitude it finally becomes flatter and the kick turns are easier again. Then we are in almost flat terrain and shortly before the summit of Corn Suvretta. 30 meters before our destination we make a small ski depot and stomp over to the summit – done! Finally a 3000m high mountain again! More than the altitude difference, however, fear robbed my strength during the ascent. Panic on the mountain is simply exhausting.

There’s always a way down

We only enjoy our summit happiness for a short time. We both want to get the gully behind us on the descent and then finally have a relaxed break. So back to the ski depot, pack up the skins and get on our skis. Until the entrance of the gully it is easy. But the first turn in the steep terrain costs me an endless amount of effort. But it works (apart from the missing elegance 😉). Falko skis down first and I ask myself continuously how I should do this now. When he reaches a save place he gives me a sign – so off I go. I ski down with my hop strategy: announce every turn with a loud “Hopp” as a request. “Hopp” – to the right, “Hopp” – to the left and so on. Sounds stupid – here and also during the tour itself, but it works. More or less continuously I ski down and after a minute I’m already standing next to Falko again – finally relaxation, finally a break.

The rest of the descent is then more of a mixture of bumpy hard frozen snow and track sliding, as the terrain is really flat in some parts. Nevertheless we enjoy the ride out of the Valletta dal Güglia and down to the Julierpass road. Great tour, beautiful summit and a little encouragement for my mountaineering self-confidence.

Back to the shadows

And the reward? Naturally sweet and creamy – coffee and cake at Café Grond in Pontresina. Definitely worth a visit.

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