Bliss on the Badus.
A Ski Tour to the Val Maighels
By Martin Hoch
Mountain guide Paul Degonda looks over the peaks; he doesn’t use words but his eyes say it all. He also talks about it later on while enjoying a coffee in the hut: “Disentis and the surrounding mountains and valleys are my home - the area is simply fantastic” The Grisons, he grew up in Disentis, spends every winter outside on the snowy slopes, leads guests up to the summits to share the experience of a ride on virgin snow. During the summer, his territory increases because he can be found in the areas from Chamonix to the Dolomites.
Today he welcomes seven ski tourists. At the station of Tschamut, from where the Matterhorn-Gotthard-Railway transports the tourists to the Oberalp Pass, the journey starts. "The short train journey saves us a few meters during the ascent," says Degonda. The participants on this ski tour from the Val Maighels to Badus will thank him later.
After a short drive in the direction of the Alp Milez, you find a new home. The ascent begins at 1,900m above sea level at ideal conditions: The sun is shining and the sky is clear blue. A good 1,000m difference in altitude has to be mastered. The group sets in motion, soon falling into a calming rhythm and except the "clack, clack" of the tourists there is nothing but silence. A fulfilling satisfaction begins to spread in the midst of this snowy nature, full of rugged rocks and high mountains.
On the Eastern Slopes of Badus
After just over an hour, the Maighelshütte, where the group will get together later, is visible. But before coffee and cake – yes some dream of the particularly delicious cake of the Maighelshütte at the beginning of the tour - a steep climb up to Badus must be mastered. The name Badus comes from the Romansh meaning "steep" or "sloping". Degonda explains, saying that the mountain has another name besides Badus: Six Madun. "But we mostly call him Badus here."
The tour leads over the Eastern slopes of the mountain and is fantastic and challenging at the same time: The author of this article is not only accompanied by his dog, Arthos, who is laying under his table while he is writing but also by sore muscles. Yes, the sore muscles are definitely the only souvenir that he’d have liked to avoid. However, much more present to him are the views of the mountains - the higher, the more imposing: the individual giants are very impressive, but even more impressive is the vastness, the orchestra-like image of hilltops, steep slopes, flanks, peaks and intervening valleys and the mountain ranges that rise looking like powerful stage curtains.
High Fives on the Summit
At last the summit is within reach. The last few meters lead over a steep crete that is accompanied by biting wind. The actual seventeen degrees below zero feels a solid ten degrees colder. Those who want to go to the top pull off their skis and everyone hikes up together. The summiteers are blown away with pleasure and joy. Photos are taken, high fives are exchanged, while one or two small icicles are formed on the beards of the men.
What follows are the fruits of the labour put in: finally, everyone is going back to their skis, taking off the skins and heading back down. Paul Degonda leads the group, followed by seven blessed tourists and together they ride wonderfully symmetrical lines into the deep snow of the Eastern slopes.
Taking a Break and Breather
The ride ends at a magical place - at the Lai Urlaun where the water glistens blue during summer. The long-awaited cake awaits in the Maighelshütte. The hut belongs to the SAC section Piz Terri and has been hosted by Pia and Bruno Honegger for 27 years. Despite the cold weather, it is time for a cold beverage, says Degonda, so the tourists are having a toast while enjoying the sun in front of the hut. Afterwards they move on into the warm room, after all, there is something more: the cake! The taste is excellent, the coffee is warming everyone up and the combination of both generates a boost of energy for the last departure.
Even the Best Days End
To conclude, there are two options. One leads up to the Piz Cavradi after another 45-minute ascent down through the Summit Couloir and the steep Northern slopes to Tschamut. The second, and what the group chooses, leads directly from the Maighelshütte down to Tschamut as the sun already disappears behind the higher peaks.
The tourists made their way to the station of Tschamut this morning because they wanted to escape their daily routine - Paul Degonda has not only shown them a different world, he basically catapulted them right out of their routine. This area is far from crowded. On the contrary, it is, as Degonda aptly says: "A pearl for free riders and touring enthusiasts."
Martin Hoch has been traveling for over seven years. Whether by train, bus, sailing ship or a converted bus, the encounters with people are important to him and he is driven by the love of nature. Back in Switzerland, he dedicates himself to travel journalism, still travels far away on a regular basis and is just as fascinated by the Swiss mountains.