I decided to end my stay in Switzerland on top. I found a hostel/hotel that was situated at 2978m, just by the 3905m peak of Piz Palü. To get there I hopped of the Bernina Express at the Bernina Diavolezza stop, which is really just a tiny stop almost in the middle of snowy nowhere at the height of 2km. The only thing in a vicinity is a cable car station, where I hop on the gondola lift for the final part of the journey: a one kilometer rise to the top. On top there’s nothing but a start of a skiing slope and the restaurant/hotel/hostel where I’m staying. As the last cable car goes downhill at 17:00, it’s just us 20 or so persons who either are staying in the hotel or who work there overnight on the top of the mountain. Don’t think I’ve ever slept in such a remote location.
I had pictured myself enjoying the sunset, the blue hour, stars in the crisp night sky and then sunrise again in the morning there high up with the, supposedly, spectacular scenery. But, Diavolezza (she-devil in Italian) was being a big tease: the whole top was in a dense cloud when I got there - visibility was 10m at best. It was pretty chilling to see some skiers still hit the slopes in those conditions, but I guess they knew the bends by heart already. So all there was to see was gray whiteness all around, not even a slight hint of the mountain tops nearby. For all I knew I could have been on flatlands of Idaho. (Well, the air was so breathtakingly thin you could tell you were at high altitude).
Needless to say I was really disappointed with the weather conditions, but there was nothing to be done. So I just spent couple of hours sifting through the photos again while sipping a beer, before starting the 4-course dinner which was included in the room price (not that there really would have been any other options for dining at the top). That was actually the first real dinner I had in Switzerland, so it was a nice change to the routine of kebabs and sandwiches…
When I got to my room after dinner and opened the window, I noticed the weather had cleared up a a bit - there were a few periods where the clouds were less dense and in those moments I could notice the looming shapes of the nearby peaks and an occasional glimpse of the moonlight from above.
And in the morning, the moody mistress Diavolezza finally decided to reveal herself: for a while after the sunrise it was crisp & clear and I was finally able to see where I had stayed the night. And what a great location it was, and especially beautiful in the morning light! That clarity didn’t last for long, before I had finished breakfast it was already almost fully cloudy again.