Ski touring with Daniel Pitsch
The silence is broken only by the crunch of powder snow beneath the skis. Daniel Pitsch leads the group. The experienced ski tourer knows this region better than anyone else: he’s the operations manager of the nearby ski lifts, in summer his cows graze in the surrounding Alps and in autumn these are his favourite hunting grounds. Today’s destination is the 3,021-metre-high Piz Vallatscha.
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“When I’m ski touring, I can let my thoughts wander”
Pristine wilderness, soaring mountains, guaranteed snow cover: Val Müstair is an unbeatable region for ski touring. Where else can you make tracks through a UNESCO biosphere reserve? Local resident Daniel Pitsch knows all the best routes.
The down-to-earth inhabitants of this diverse natural environment are equally as vibrant. Val Müstair residents call themselves the Jauer – and Daniel Pitsch is a prime example of the Jauer community. The term is derived from the Romansh word jau, which means I. The language they speak is only found in Val Müstair. The Jauer dialect is Daniel’s native language and he speaks in this dialect with all three members of his ski touring group, who all help out in the Minschuns ski region: his daughter Braida, son Jachen Armon and colleague Ramun Tschenett. Today they’re headed to the summit of Piz Vallatscha.
Every summit can be reached on skis
They value the many ski touring opportunities on offer in Val Müstair: “You can do long ski tours starting right in the valley, or shorter tours from Buffalora on the Ofenpass, from the Minschuns ski region or from Weiler Lü,” explains Daniel. And the best part: the Postbus network connects the village to the starting points of all the tours. So you can leave your car at the hotel and go ski touring for a whole week.
The region is well known among touring enthusiasts, because the surrounding mountains are essentially tailor-made for ski touring. Most of the summits are over 3,000 metres high yet are rather flat, making it possible to climb just about every peak on skis. “But there are also some very steep descents,” notes Daniel. The northern descent from Piz Daint through a wide gorge is one of his favourite routes. “But the conditions need to be very safe!”
Always ready to lend a hand
For 22 years, Daniel has been the operations manager of the small but impressive Minschuns ski region, which is located just above the Ofenpass. The proactive 60-year-old helps out wherever an extra pair of hands are required. In the evenings he usually performs the final inspection on the long valley descent to Tschierv and can ski all the way to his farm. His farm is entirely organic, like nearly all the other farms in the valley. After all, organic methods are the obvious choice when you’re farming in one of Switzerland’s renowned nature parks.
Daniel then spends two hours tending to his animals. He keeps suckler cows and Angus cattle that feel right at home in Val Müstair, thanks to its high elevation. Daniel Pitsch’s days are incredibly long and busy, because on top of everything else, he’s also active in various associations, committees and boards. But whenever he finds the time, he grabs his climbing skins and sets off into the snow. For him, there’s nothing better than ski touring: “This is the best way for me to relax and unwind.”