As a ski instructor and hiking guide in the Engadine and at St. Moritz’s Badrutt’s Palace Hotel for the past 25 years, Mountain expert John Webster knows the area like the back of his hand.
Here, he gives us a little insider expertise and discusses some of his favourite hikes and what makes the Engadine region one of the most stunning in the world.
What first brought you to the Engadine and what has made you want to stay?
I first came to the Engadine to visit friends working in the Ski School St Moritz, and then to work in the ski school myself.
One year, after travelling in the Summer, I ended up back here much earlier than needed for the winter, with the result that I saw the Engadine Valley without snow - I found it much more beautiful than I could ever have imagined and not at all like other ski resorts I had seen in the summer.
I found it to be paradise on earth! Clean air, blue skies, rugged mountains and the famous lakescape all beckoning me to get out and enjoy the nature.
What is your favourite hike for first-time visitors to St. Moritz and the Engadine?
My favourite "first-timers" hike has to be the Muottas Muragl Hohenweg, a trail between Muottas Muragl andAlp Languard at an average altitude of about 2,400m above sea level and 600m above the valley floor.
It is a relatively flat hike, gently undulating as it traverses the side of the mountain, and so it does not require too much exertion, particularly important for guests not acclimatised to the altitude of the Engadine Valley.
The trail is very clearly marked and well maintained and it takes about 2.5 hours to walk non-stop, but there is a small mountain cafè about half way along the hike, and there are restaurants at either end (Muottas Muragl &Alp Languard).
The best thing about this hike is the magnificent scenery it affords visitors. From Muottas Muragl, one looks up the Engadine Valley with its villages and the famous lakescape. From Alp Languard there is a fantastic view of the Bernina Massiv and its glaciers. And these views change as the hike is walked.
„ I found [the Engadine] to be paradise on earth!
What makes the Engadine Valley unique?
I think the Engadine is unique for hikers because of its unbelievable natural beauty.
Wherever someone hikes they hope for memorable scenery, but the Engadine surpasses all expectations and never disappoints.
The ruggedness of the mountains, the power of the glaciers, the beauty of the valley and lakescape, the quaint Romanisch villages, the pure air and invigorating climate, all forming part of perhaps the most stunning picture of nature ever created. And all so easily accessible !
Do you have any advice for hikers heading out in the Engadine?
Standard preparations for hiking can never go astray.
Tell a friend where you are going and when you expect to be back. Make sure your mobile is charged, and you know the name of the area you are hiking.
Check the weather forecast before heading out, and if a change is forecast, adjust your plans accordingly; it is never fun getting caught out in a storm. Remember that the weather can change very quickly in the mountains, so always be prepared. Dress in layers, and always have at least one change of shirt with you.
Be aware, too, of the altitude when hiking in the Engadine—it is higher than most hiking areas—and always have extra water to maintain your hydration levels.
Also, it is wise not to wear new boots, particularly if going on a long hike. Blisters are extremely painful. I always spray some Blistop on my feet before I head out—just in case! Prevention is always better than a cure. As with any challenge, err on the side of caution! Never undertake a demanding hike alone.