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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

Passo di Lei Traverse

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

For some time now we wanted to do a multi-day hike in Valchiavenna; the endless, sparsely populated mountain ridges and valleys magically attract us. And so we are planning a tour in 5 stages that will take us from Piuro to Madesimo. On the way there are mostly bivouacs or mountain huts to stay overnight, we only take a tent with us for the first night. Of course, that makes a lot of weight when it comes to luggage, but we just don't dare to climb 2,300 meters in one day.

In the nights before there were still thunderstorms and we are carefully watching the weather forecast. It seems stable for the next few days. Let's go! We start at the waterfalls of Acquafraggia, which are probably among the most beautiful in Italy (even George Clooney supposedly has already been there for a swim; unfortunately I wasn't there the same time :-().

cascate acquafraggia piuro valchiavenna
Cascate Acquafraggia

We already know the first stretch to the Rifugio Savogno from a small day tour. From there we continue further up. We have chosen Alpe Ponciagna as our overnight stop, where we will pitch our tent. A very nice spot! And we have even running water there.

The next day we have another 600 meters altitude ahead of us. Our destination is the bivouac Chiara e Walter on Passo di Lei. We first reach the lago di Acquafraggia, where the waterfalls of the same name arise.

Then we climb up the pass. From 2,300 m the snow cover is still closed. We are glad to have snowshoes with us. Still, the climb is really tough. The path becomes steeper and steeper and the snow more slippery the more the sun shines on it. Finally we reach the bivouac and a nice Italian who is already there offers us a cup of tea. What a warm welcome! The view is absolutely breathtaking. Really one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Bivacco Chiara e Walter passo di lei valchiavenna
Bivacco Chiara e Walter

The next day we climb down the other side of the pass. Fortunately, the path is not quite as steep as on the other side. And so we make our way - initially with snowshoes - down to the Alpe Pian del Nido. Now we really deserve a break. The last part of this stage is along the Lago di Lei reservoir; however, it is about 10 km. That's just too long. Finally we reach the Rifugio Baita del Capriolo. After a short shower aperitif and dinner is already served. That feels so good!

The fourth stage takes us across Switzerland and Passo Niemet to the Rifugio Bertacchi. According to the hut manager, the direct route over the Passo di Sterla would not be feasible at that time of year - at least not with our equipment. So we first hike to Innerferrera (CH) and then, after a little refreshment, tackle the pass. We reach the top around late afternoon and cross the border back to Italy. Rifugio Bertacchi is already in sight and only 30 minutes later we are warmly welcomed by the hut manager Luigi and his dog Taurus. The next day we only have around 2 hours to go. Thank God, because the weather is turning bad again and rain is coming. We walk to Madesimo and then take the bus to Chiavenna.

passo niemet lago emet rifugio bertacchi
Passo Niemet - the last ascent is done :-)

We are really exhausted, our feet hurt and I have bruises on my shoulders from the heavy luggage. But we are already sure that it will not be our last multi-day tour. And Valchiavenna offers endless possibilities :-)

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