During the initial part of this moderately difficult tour we find ourselves gliding through the air as we take the chairlift up to Alp Languard (2326 m). The Languard valley is a great spot for observing frolicking marmots. By the time we get to Pia's at the Paradis Hut (at 2540 m above sea level) it is time to sample one of her «heavenly» cakes, a taste of Paradis(e) indeed! From the Alp we then set off into the Val Languard. At the point where the trails meet up, we take the path that leads us to the Paradis Hut. We continue on down the valley past Alp Languard, down the valley and to Pontresina. Our hike ends at the two cultural highlights, the little church of St Maria and the Spaniola tower.
Marmot colonies: No sooner have we set off than already we can hear a high-pitched whistling. Yes, you've guessed it, it's the marmots. The whistling is used for many purposes, not just as a warning, but also as a means of establishing contact and of intimidation. These cute creatures live in burrows as large family groups. There are plenty of opportunities along the entire route to spot the entrances to these burrows. A family normally comprises an adult male and a female as well as several young. At the end of September the marmots withdraw into their well-insulated winter burrow to hibernate. All their body functions are then greatly reduced. They spend approx. 90% of their life inside the burrow. Tip: The Pontresina Tourist Association organises marmot and ibex excursions every week from mid-June to September. Hiking guide Martin Schmutz will show you the marmots' favourite spots and with a little luck you'll also be able to observe a chamois or ibex.
Piz Albris and its ibex colony: We reach a fork in the trail. From here we continue in the direction of the Paradis Hut. There are wonderful views of Piz Albris (3166 m) in the opposite direction. Many mountain tours organised by the Swiss Mountaineering School in Pontresina in summer take you up to the summits. The first seven animals were released in the Val Spöl (national park) in 1920, and by 1921 two females left the area and settled on Piz Albris on the boundaries of the national park. The population in Albris prospered exceptionally well, producing the now famous Albris colony, which was to prove so important later on. Today this colony is one of the largest and probably one of the best studied ibex populations anywhere in the Alps.
Röntgen Path & Röntgen Square: By now we have left the wonderful - and aptly named - Paradis Hut. We have stood and admired the wonderful mountain panorama. The physicist Prof. Wilhelm C. Röntgen (1845-1923) was also very much taken by this delightful spot. Which is why, in 1934, a commemorative plaque was mounted in his favourite spot and the path named after him. For 43 consecutive summers he and his wife did not shy away from the long and difficult journey by mail coach from Chur to reach their beloved Pontresina. «Each time I spend four weeks in Pontresina I extend my life by a whole year.» In 1901 the inventor of the X-ray won the Nobel Prize for Physics. Via ferrata: Back to the present. This is where the new via ferrata is to be built.
Church of St Maria: The wonderful little church of St Maria with its 13th and 15th century frescoes is a must-see (please check the opening times). The original structure dates back to the 12th century. The cluster of houses around the little church was destroyed by a rock slide, with only the tower and the west wall of the church itself left standing. These elements were integrated when the church was rebuilt. The mountain cemetery laid out on six terraces is not only the final resting place for the inhabitants of Pontresina, but also for visitors and many mountaineers from the early days of high-alpine tourism who met an untimely death.
Spaniola tower and the Saracens: The former four-storey tower house belonging to the lords of Pontresina dates from 1210. It was built to a pentagonal floor plan as a protection against avalanches and rockfalls. Indeed, when it was erected, there was no protective forest on the slopes above. The tower was renovated by the municipality in 1994.
See also Engadin St. Moritz CH-7500 St. Moritz Phone: +41 (0)81 830 00 01 Fax: +41 (0)81 830 08 18 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: www.engadin.stmoritz.ch
Pontresina, Alp Languard valley station (1838 m)
Geogr. 46.490960 N 9.906420 E
UTM 32T 569562 5148998
Wildlife refuge God Languard: Do not enter the nature reserve from 15.12 until 15.04.
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