The time has come for Nanuk’s first holiday excursion. Nanuk is my no-longer-so-little German Shepherd. And by excursion, I mean a night at Pontresina Youth Hostel. There’s a special reason why I chose this place! The youth hostel in Pontresina isn’t your usual run-of-the-mill youth hostel – it’s also a cross-country skiing centre. The trail is right next to the hotel, and the equipment hire shop is even in the same building. It’s really practical. After all, I’d like to try cross-country skiing with Nanuk
A perfect hobby for winter sports fans with dogs
Although I’m still a bit shaky on my skis, I set out confidently on an adventure on this beautiful winter day. After a warm-up lap in front of the hostel, Nanuk and I leave Pontresina and head towards Madulain. It’s home to one of several dog trails in the Engadin. There, I hook Nanuk onto my repurposed climbing harness with his flexi leash and off we go.
Or at least that was the plan. Nanuk doesn’t like the cross-country skiers at all. He barks at them like crazy, and even tries to bite them. The other cross-country skiers watch me and smile. Oh man, this isn’t what I had imagined at all. After a few assertive shouts of “No, don’t bite the skiers, Nanuk!” and lots of patience, we manage our first few metres forwards. Slowly but steadily. Just don’t brake. Nanuk likes the braking sound caused by the skis least of all.
However, about ten minutes later, everything “clicks” and Nanuk is happily doing laps with me on the trail! Ok, I may have to retrieve him whenever a cross-country skier crosses our path and shorten his radius to keep him at my side. But he seems to really enjoy the dog trail. After a good hour, we’re finished – I don’t want to overtax the little guy on his first time out. And so we return to Pontresina Youth Hostel, feeling happy and tired.
Stay at the youth hostel with your dog
Nanuk is greeted at Pontresina Youth Hostel in the best possible way. Snacks, dog waste bags, a terry cloth towel and a greeting card “Hello Christina and woof Nanuk”. Dogs are definitely welcome here! Tip: Bring your own dog bed if necessary. Youth hostel visitors also need to know that their dog should be registered and is only allowed in private rooms. So, you don’t have to leave him or her alone. Dogs are welcome at almost all Swiss Youth Hostels – with the exception of Baden Youth Hostel.
More tips for an awesome winter excursion to Pontresina – with and without your dog
Explore the Val Roseg
A beautiful valley surrounded by the highest of the Engadin’s peaks. The hike to “Roseg” takes two hours. There, you will find a mountain restaurant & hotel. Coaches will also take you back and forth if need be. It’s perfect for everyone whose legs get tired and who find a four-hour hike to be simply too much of a good thing. By the way: There’s also a cross-country skiing trail to Val Roseg.
Val Morteratsch – try pizzoccheri
The trail to Val Morteratsch is a bit shorter than the one to Val Roseg. You can reach the glacier by foot within an hour. Unfortunately, it’s receding further and further, which is being documented with info boards along the trail for some excitement. Just before the glacier, the forest thins out and you can see Piz Palü, Piz Bernina (the eastern most 4,000-metre peak) and Piz Morteratsch. And the Boval Hut is also “within grasp” but closed in winter. So, now it’s back to the Morteratsch mountain restaurant, where I treat myself to a Valtellina speciality common in the Engadin every visit: pizzoccheri.
Lej da Staz
Lej da Staz, mentioned once in the St. Moritz blog post, is also just a short hike away. It’s worth a trip, no matter the season.
Coffee and cake break at Gianottis
Back in Pontresina, it was time to do something good for the soul. Right next door to the Zuckerbäckerei bakery, you can make yourself comfortable at the café and enjoy a delicious piece of cake complete with a view of the mountains. The chocolate cake was excellent and the passion fruit cheesecake was also very popular. Tip for Pontresina in spring: The ibexes generally like to visit in late spring (a bit above the valley station). It’s an unforgettable experience to be able to marvel at the animals at close range.
Skiing in Diavolezza, Corvatsch or Corviglia
You can buy the ski ticket from Pontresina Youth Hostel for a good price. For only 45 francs per person/day, you get the ski pass for the three skiing areas in the Engadin. This makes fun on the slopes in one of the three skiing areas worth it twice over.
Some more impressions of Christina in Engadin
About the author
On her blog wildmountainheart.ch she takes her readers with her on her adventures. For example, in the summer of 2020, she packed her tent and hiked 2000 kilometres across the Alps alone for almost five months on the Via Alpina.
Her book «VON WEGEN» will also be published in April 2022.
Christina also supports her brother and freeski pro Andri Ragettli in all communication matters, wrote his book “ATTACK YOUR DREAMS” (to be published in spring 2022) and is a volunteer writer for the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) Terri section.
Follow Christina’s hostel stories also on Instagram:
Christina in St. Moritz
Christina has already been to Engadin once, and we also have a youth hostel in St. Moritz. In her experience report on St. Moritz, you can find out what else you can experience in Engadin around our two youth hostels.
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